DEAR ABBY: I encountered a frightening man in the hardware store the other day. I was standing at the counter paying for an item when a man behind me came at me, inches from my face, in an aggressive and threatening way. When I asked him if he could please step 6 feet away, he became even more hostile and accused me of asking in the wrong way.
In hindsight, I suppose I should have ignored him. But his words shook me. I didn't speak disrespectfully to him. Although I was alarmed, I was polite. When I said I was just asking for the required space, he said he was showing me how thoughtless I am because I wasn't wearing a mask or gloves. Neither was he, nor were the employees and some other shoppers. When I pointed that out, he countered even more loudly that I was the problem. I just shook my head and left. As I was leaving, he yelled after me that he hoped I got the virus and that he worked in a hospital.
The man was huge, at least double my size. He was clearly going out of his way to threaten me, if not to infect me. I know I should not have responded, but for my own safety, I needed to politely ask him to back away. If I'd had a smartphone, I might have called the police.
I go for a walk every day for exercise and to shop for necessary groceries. I have experienced people in aisles coming very close to me. I step aside to give space for others. Generally, most people are careful, respectful and even give a thank-you. This man was aggressive for no reason. What should I have done other than just walk quickly away? -- THREATENED IN OAKLAND, CALIF.
DEAR THREATENED: You did the right thing. I seriously doubt the person worked in or even near a hospital, because if he did, he would have taken the proper safety precautions. In these stressful times, people sometimes act out over perceived slights. With someone so angry, aggressive and clearly looking for trouble, the right thing to do was to get away as quickly and safely as possible. The man was lucky the store management didn't eject him.