Defeated

I needed to pick up a couple of things for dinner at the store. Three items was all I was getting so it was to be a quick in-and-out trip. I asked my daughter if she’d like to come with me to grab some stuff. She said yes and went to get her shoes. She’s become a great big helper in the kitchen and has a radar-like instinct whenever I open the fridge, inquiring if there’s something she can do.

In the car, she asks what the speed limit is, if I’m going too slow or too fast. She asks if I will get a ticket. She sees a cop and asks what he’s doing. (It’s a speed trap.) She tells me to speed up so I don’t get a ‘slow ticket’, you know, because she’s four and knows how to drive. She says 5000 other things that i will not list. We arrive at the store – Walmart no less. (If you don’t know, I really can’t stand Walmart and try to avoid going there if I can help it.) It was just a few items so I didn’t feel like driving into our regular store.

Once inside, we grab some apples, and my daughter decides that now would be the perfect time to launch into a whiney campaign to beg for these pouch mashed-up fruit things:

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We have a rule in our house. Tantrums will get you no where. The answer to whatever you are asking becomes an automatic “No” when you throw a fit. We are consistent with this. I attempted to joke her out of it, “Have you lost all your teeth?! Are you an old lady who has only gums and can’t chew?! When did that happen?!” She giggles and snaps out of it. Or so I thought. Rounding the corner to the pasta sauce aisle, she started in again crying and stomping and wailing about the “fruit thingies”. She’s getting pretty worked up. I remind her that she’s asked (repeatedly), and I’ve answered.

Choosing the self-checkout is always a decision I make when I feel anti-social. I love self-checkout. I don’t have to hear remarks about what I’m purchasing, or make small talk. It’s not that I’m being mean or rude, there are just sometimes when talking to people takes more energy than I possess. Today was definitely one of those times. While I’m checking out the four items, trying to read the screen and move along quickly, another customer at the next self checkout lane starts in to talk to my daughter telling her what she thinks about her behavior.

“Ma’am. If you would please not talk to her right now, I’d appreciate it. It really doesn’t help.” I was even-toned. I never raised my voice. I probably sounded more exhausted and pleading than anything. I made sure to not be rude, but just kindly ask her not to address my daughter. Basically I was thinking, ‘Would you just please pretend you don’t hear her and go about your business and leave the me the heck alone?! I’m trying to get this done!’ Meanwhile, the screen is not cooperating, the attendant is looking uncomfortable and a line of people is starting to form. I can feel the heat of their eyes on the back of my neck. I’m being burned by the stares I’m receiving.

The lady turns her head over her shoulder and mutters just loudly enough so I hear it, “Well. The apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so angry at someone I don’t know. Hannah is completely out of sorts. I’m shaking and am about to lose it. I turn toward the attendant and inform him that the computer isn’t working, and I apologize, but I’m going to have to leave my items there. I need to leave.

Immediately.

Shocked by her audacity. What I can only describe as pure, unbridled frustration, I turn back toward the woman (who now will not acknowledge me) and say, “You know, your comments help no one. That was uncalled for.” Then I scooped up still-hollering Hannah and rush out. If I didn’t, I may have actually decked the lady. I sure wanted to.

Now both of us are in tears and I crumble in the car. We cry all the way home. I am the epitome of defeat.

Every parent has had meltdowns in the store. (If you haven’t, your kid isn’t old enough – just give it time. It will inevitably happen.)  But if you see it, assume the parent is doing the best they can. Don’t judge. Don’t be careless with your words and opinions.

Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear it. Or needs to hear it. They just may be having an awful day. Your words may be the ones that crush them.

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Things You Should Not Say To Me While Ringing Up My Purchases

There are so many instances where I’ve nearly left a pile of drool at the checkout line because my mouth was gaping open, shocked at the audacity of people and the things they say. So much so, that I felt compelled to share the list of what customer service people should never say to me (or anyone else) at the register.

1. Do not tell me how to parent my child. If I wanted your advice, I would ask for it. And if I’m asking for advice, I’m probably not going to solicit someone who I don’t know, doesn’t know my kids, or someone who may not even have kids of their own. Seriously – I’m sure you are just the “best auntie ever”, but if you don’t have kids of your own – you really shouldn’t be handing out parental advice. (The only exception to this would be if you are a teacher.)

1.b. Don’t parent my child for me. This has happened to me only twice. Both times a person attempted to tell my son what not to do. (He was eyeing the candy and the clerk told him no.) I laughed. (And no, I didn’t buy the candy.)

2. Unless you are 1000% sure – do not comment on what a “big boy” my baby is (when she is in fact a girl in head-to-toe pink!) Just say how beautiful my baby is and move on.

3. Do not comment on the price of an item. As in, “Whoa! You’re gonna pay how much for that?!” No lie. This actually happened to me, over a pair of $40 jeans. Umm. You work here. At the place that sells the jeans at the price you are balking at. Why the shock?

4. Do not make judgments out loud about anything I am buying. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion. I just don’t need to hear yours when you feel critical or morally superior.

5. Don’t ask weird questions. Questions like, “Wow. you have a lot of vegetables here. And all organic. You some kind of health nut?” How the heck am I supposed to answer that? “Why yes, I try to be a super-wacko!” Good grief!

6. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not tell me your life’s story. I am sure you are a very sweet person and working retail is VERY hard, I know. But these two minions in my cart have a limited attention span. If we don’t speed it up, I’m seriously going to have an aneurism.

7. Yes, 15-year-old customer service rep, they are feminine products. No I’m not really embarrassed, but I can clearly see that you are. I’m sorry. It’s part of life. You’ll get over it.

8.  Please don’t tell me to do your job for you. At the Navy Exchange there are a few customer service reps that sit while ringing up customers. I don’t have a problem with that. I used to be a bank teller, I know long days on your feet are rough. But there is one rep, (the one I avoid like the plague) who is rude and actually said, “I’m too tired to get up and reach your stuff. Put  your stuff closer to the scanner.” It was literally inches from her hand. I almost laughed. Then I realized she was dead serious.

9. Please don’t check your phone in the middle of our transaction. I think it is very rude for customers to talk on cell phones while simultaneously treating the person behind the counter as if they are a robot. It’s obnoxious and demeaning. I keep my phone off and I expect you to do the same.

1o. Do not act as if I don’t exist. I am a person, too. Please don’t have a conversation with a co-worker and ignore me entirely.

I won’t be rude to you, you don’t be rude to me, mmmkay?

What crazy things have you heard while being waited on at the checkout line?