Friday, December 20, 2013

I Feel Sorry For Mean People

I drive a very large van. It's a necessity, and although sometimes it means parking can be an adventure, I'm getting pretty good at it.

Yesterday, I put my two little ones into the massive beast (we call her "Bison") for some errands. Shopping at Target usually is fun for me, but the boys were not having their best day. I had to stop a couple of tantrums, but we slowly made it through our list and out to the van. After they calmed down and we reassessed the situation, I decided to cross one store off our list, but I really needed to get to Trader Joe's. The boys fell asleep on the way down, which wasn't a problem, as traffic was incredibly slow. The parking lot for Trader Joe's was jam packed --tons of people doing last minute shopping there and at all the stores surrounding it. I searched for a reasonable parking spot that could fit Bison, and luckily I found one! I cleared it really well and parked, but I knew I wasn't at the best angle. I got out of the van and before getting my kids out, I checked to make sure the car next to me could get in and out. It was fine --sure, I was parked at a slight angle, but the car would be able to get out without any trouble.

I took the kids inside. They were out of the things I had come to get, but we found some yummy treats and waited patiently in the long line. A very nice gentleman talked to me and #5 (#6 was asleep on my back in the Beco) about Christmas and his grown daughters while we waited in line, and everything was pleasant.

We wished the man a Merry Christmas as we parted, walked out to the van, I parked the cart behind it, opened the sliding door, and noticed that the car next to me was new --the other one had left and this one had parked here without any problem. I felt relief.

As I walked back to get #5 out of the grocery cart, a woman --about 50? --was walking by us (I noticed she had parked a few cars down the row). She leaned into my #5 and said:

"Maybe next year you can teach your mom how to drive." Then she turned to me and said, "Ya, Idiot!" She kept walking.

I was stunned.

But I was quick and called after her, "Merry Christmas to you, too!"

#5 said, "What did that lady say, mom?" and I said, "She was just being very rude."

I got in the car and put the kids in, and I was mortified. Mortified that a perfect stranger would speak like that to me --and do it through my child. I was embarrassed because I was already very aware about the size of my car, and I had been worried about my parking job. I was hurt because it's a stressful time (for everyone!) and did she realize how awful those words were?

I cried the whole way home.

On the drive, #5 asked me, "Mom, what's whong?"
I said, "I'm just sad because of the mean things that lady said to me, buddy. Do you see how mean words can hurt people?"

He thought about it for a minute. This was a good thing, dear reader, because #5 has been struggling with calling people names for a while, now. I could see his brain turning and it was starting to dawn on him how words can hurt.

I said, "We need to pray for that woman, #5. She must have a really awful life to say such horrible things to strangers in parking lots. I feel bad for her."

and then this: "Also, #5, do you remember that nice man in the store? We need to pray for him, too, and thank Heavenly Father for him. He was so nice, and his kindness made up for the mean lady in the parking lot."

This is what I learned from this experience:
1. I needed a good cry. In a way, I'm grateful I got it, because I think it's been building (the stress of moving, loneliness, stress of Christmas, etc.).
2. Mean People who speak to complete strangers in parking lots in a passive aggressive (and then aggressive) way are not very common. At least it hasn't been common in my life! This makes me feel better that she's in the minority.
3. My son learned how words hurt.
4. I'm grateful that I know I would never speak to people in this way --but do I? Do I speak to those I love in this way?
5. All of us need to have some more patience and love towards people, especially at this time of year! That parking lot was full of people who were rushing to get Christmas things finished. Are we really going to be impatient and rude simply because we can? We should be giving people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, think about it --what if I had been dying of cancer and she said this? What if I had just lost a spouse or sister or father? What if I had been purchasing goods for a funeral? Or for the hospital? She knew NOTHING about me, and yet chose to be petty and rude and vindictive. The sad part was that it wasn't affecting her at all, you know? Why call me out over something that has nothing to do with her?

So, yeah. I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for mean people. Their lives must be miserable.

Dear reader, be more patient with people. Assume the best and spread some Christmas Cheer this week. Love, and then love some more. Everybody deserves some kindness. Be like the gentleman in Trader Joe's --not the woman in the parking lot.


Rebekah said...

Oh my goodness. You handled that SO well. I'm still sorry the rudeness happened. But I'm amazed at how well you turned that situation into a positive one for yourself and your children. Thanks for sharing. Too often my temper flares or I melt into a puddle of sadness when something like this happens. Thanks for your example.

Diane said...

You are so nice. I ran into this all the time in NY and Toronto. I learned to just laugh, loud and hard. Maybe that was a totally rude response too, but it always chilled what could be a tense situation.

Rebecca said...

Cheryl, you are awesome.

Emily said...

Wow. I'm glad you didn't just flip her off. ;-) I was the cranky one yesterday at the orthopod. We'd had a terrible snow storm - snow on ice and my husband insisted we go to the appointment so he could get permission to work a 40 hour week. I was so not wanting to drive and just wanted to reschedule. We did drive and were okay, but I was so annoyed at having to fill out new paperwork, including insurance info when they had a copy of the card (at least I thought), being sick, bringing a sick kid, a sick, self and a sick husband in, having to find a babysitter for the baby at the last minute... blah blah blah. It was just me, really, and I wasn't the nicest, but the receptionist was gracious and I was grateful for that. I didn't say anything totally jerky like your "friend" but my demeanor was ornery. I'll work on it.

sariqd said...

I just look at them with a big smile on my face and say in an innocent voice, "I'm sorry, I'm hard-of-hearing, what did you wish to say to me?" It always disconcerts them. Lol... Sorry you had to deal with that but I'm glad you're able to see the good.

Misty Lynne said...

You know, I'm not going to defend her, but I would like to say "thank you" for forgiving her. As a person that tends to be rather blunt, I've found myself on a number of occasions saying things wrong. I'm just making a comment or observation, then realize, minutes later, that I was not tactful at all, sometimes quite rude. I know I've offended people because of it, and I do try and rectify it when I can. But that's not always possible. So thank you. Sometimes us rude people don't mean to be rude and feel bad really about what we've said.