I had another instance occur last week where a complete stranger who was at least 40 years older than me decided to reprimand me for something. I am sure it is not politically correct to say “old people,” so I apologize and if you are offended you are free to insert “the elderly” as you read my blog instead. I also could not resist running this photo although it really has nothing to do with an old person yelling, but it was appropriate for the time of year and made me chuckle and forget my anger toward “the elderly” for a brief moment.
Back to the story … I seem to be a magnet for old people. They are drawn to me. But not drawn to me because they consider me charming. Drawn to me because they want to yell at me for something.
I’ll share some of my most memorable old people encounters with you …
When my son was about three years old he decided to throw an all-out-toss-yourself-around-on-the-floor-and-scream tantrum while we were at the mall. I tried every parenting tactic I knew and nothing seemed to work. So instead of subjecting the entire mall to the tantrum, I quickly scooped up my son and carried him to the front doors. I was livid, as you can imagine. I put him down, grabbed his hand and started walking across the parking lot toward the car. Most people could probably see the anger on my face and the tears on my son’s face. It had obviously not been a fun trip to the mall. So as Granny passes us in the parking lot she says, “My my, you are sure are making that young man walk mighty fast, aren’t you?” Really? Really? I guess that was her passive aggressive way of making me feel badly for jerking my child across the parking lot, but instead of making me feel badly it just infuriated me even more. I blew her off, swallowed my pride and got into the car. But her sarcasm bothered me for the rest of the day.
Another instance was when I had both children at Target with me. They were sitting in the shopping cart and I was standing with them. I had to get a new watch battery and we had been waiting at the jewelry counter for a good five minutes with no employee in sight. I caught a glimpse of an employee scooting across the apparel section, so I quickly ran to her and asked if she could call someone to help me. She was literally maybe 15 feet from where we had been standing. I turned around and some old lady was holding the shopping cart with my kids in it. She glared at me and said, “Don’t you ever leave them alone!” Once again, I took the high road, kept my mouth shut, put my tail between my legs and took the handle of the shopping cart back from her.
On to my next encounter which happened at the gas station. Both kids were tiny and were strapped into their car seats as I got out to pump my gas. After numerous tries I realized that the credit card machine was not going to work, which meant I needed to go inside to pay. I debated on whether or not to unbuckle the kids and carry them in, but considering I had the front pump which was about ten steps from the front door of the gas station, I locked the car and went in to pay. Out of nowhere, some grouchy lady comes up behind me and asks, “Can I reprimand you?” Here we go again. She proceeded to tell me how irresponsible it was for me to leave my children in the car because my car could explode and they would die. This time I got up a little courage and simply said with a smile, “Isn’t it crazy how our parents used to leave us in the car to shop at the mall for hours and now I cannot even pay for my gas without bringing my children inside with me? My, how times have changed.”
This brings me to my example from last week. I must preface this story with the fact that I was having a no-good-very-bad-day on this day for multiple reasons. I decided to go to the YMCA and blow off some steam. I park the car and as I am walking inside an older man and woman approach me and the man says, “Hey, I wanted to let you know that your turn signal must be burned out.” I replied with, “Oh, thank you! Which one?” His reply, “Well I guess both of them because I didn’t see either one come on when you followed me in here.” As I started to reply with, “Oh I will have to get that checked out” – it quickly dawned on me that he was being a sarcastic jerk and was yelling at me for not using a turn signal. His wife stood next to him laughing. I turned and walked into the Y and was FUMING!!!! There were so many things wrong with this scenario that I didn’t know where to start. Why was he watching me if I was behind him? Why did it matter to him if I used my turn signal when he was in front of me and there was no one behind me? And most importantly, could he not see that I had already been in tears from my no-good-very-bad-day? I was boiling and was ready for an attack if I saw him when I exited the Y. As luck would have it, I did not run into the little couple again and am now glad I did not.
So are all these old people right? Probably. I should have channeled my inner Mother Teresa and gently walked my son out of the mall that day. At the gas station I should have taken the time to get the kids out of the car. At Target I should have taken the kids & the shopping cart with me when I went up to the clerk. And at the Y I probably should have used my turn signal, even though there was no one behind me and the guy in front of me should have been watching the road. (Grrrr … can you tell I am still a little angry about that one?)
But even though they may be right, is it really any of their business? If someone would have taken my kids at Target would that lady have run after them and helped me or just shook her head because I was irresponsible? And if my car did explode would the other “reprimander” have run to my kids’ rescue or sat idly by and watched? I think sometimes people forget how tough it is to be a parent and also that they may have no idea what has happened in a person’s life prior to their encounter with them.
Boy, I feel better now that I have spilled my guts! Can any of you empathize with me? Or do I need to take it easier on these old people?