Today, I accompanied my wife to the grocery store. I didn’t really have any business there, so I was just looking around for something fun to eat later.

During my travels throughout the aisles, I encountered a young black teenager with a cart full of items. I only noticed him because he had a huge knit cap on, most likely, I assumed, housing some exciting dreads, based on the size and shape.

About the third or fourth time he saw me, he came around the corner as I was inspecting some Snyder’s pretzels. Before I knew he was there, he yelled, “You’re undercover!” and then ran out the front door.

Now, why would he have thought that? And why did he run?

It’s the stories we tell ourselves.

Obviously, I’m not an undercover officer. I’m not a police officer. But he determined I was, and from his reaction, it seems like he thought I had my eye on him.

For him to draw these conclusions, he has to be tapping into his past experiences and the stories he’s been told. I don’t know what those are, but I think it’s a shame that was his reaction to me – both reactions: the thinking I was a cop and the feeling he needed to run.

And then, for a fleeting second, I wondered if I was in danger. Having been (incorrectly) identified as a cop, I was wondering if there may be some adverse or dangerous reaction to me.

I wish people could understand how far we’ve fallen and how important the stories are that we tell ourselves and each other.

I wish I could have spoken to this kid to tell him who I really am and what I was really doing there. He should boldly go through his life without fear of someone watching him or bringing him down. He should enjoy positivity and be looking ahead.

At first, it was a little funny. But very quickly, it became very discouraging.