Friday, December 19, 2008

Rumble in Value Village

This past weekend I slipped out to Value Village for a quick trip by myself. While I was looking at dresses for myself there, I could hear a toddler crying a couple aisles over. On and off for about 10 minutes and then on for several more minutes. Frankly, this happens a lot in this Value Village.

Since Ruthie and I had just decided to stop nursing a couple days prior to this, I started leaking. And then getting teary. And finally, I just. could. not. take. it. anymore. So, I left my cart and walked over to the aisle. I saw the toddler, about 18 months or so, laying on the floor and crying. The mom was standing about 3 feet away looking through the racks. I tried to push my judgementalness deep inside me and tried to be kind. I walked up to the toddler, crouched down, and said "Are you okay, why are you crying?" The mom looked at me neutrally and I said, "Oh, are you her mom? Would you like me to pick her up for you?" I was being very nice, not bitchy, and not patronizing (even though my insides were screaming with anger). The mom said, "She's just crying because she wants me to hold her." We talked for a few minutes about the challenges of babies who like to be held a lot, yada, yada, and it was a nice conversation.

But I was still kind of in turmoil inside.

Now, this particular Value Village (the "old" Value Village) has very small aisles. In order to pass someone else in the same aisle, each of you kind of has to scoot your buggy into the clothes. To prevent this from disturbing me when I am in "the zone" I typically "park" my buggy very close to the clothes when I am looking through the racks. Evidently, not everyone has figured this out.
So, here I am, making my way through. I turn into an aisle, and I need to pass this buggy that is HORIZONTALLY blocking anyone's path down the aisle. (It's important to mention here that I KNEW that this woman spoke English. I had heard her talking to her daughter when I was an aisle over.)
I try my standard "Excuse me."
No movement.
"Pardon me please."
No movement.
"Excuse me, I need to get down to the other end of the aisle. These clothes are all too small for me here." I also gave my best wimpy woman apologetic giggle. (I know, it disgusts me too.)
She barely moves to the side and I squeeze through. When I'm about 15 feet away, I hear this:
"I didn't need all that information on how big she was."

Oh no you didn't.

I was trying to be polite, I was trying to be nice and make conversation. I DID THE WIMPY WOMAN GIGGLE TO SHOW I MEANT NO HARM AND YOU HAD THE NERVE TO TALK SMACK ABOUT ME?!?!?!

I had had it. I turned my head around real slow and said this:
"Well you were moving so slow I figured you must have needed some additional information!!!"

So then she said, "I'm a grown woman, I can move as slow as I want, I didn't need all that information about your size!"

My shoulders dropped in defeat, but with my head still held high I said calmly, "I was just trying to be friendly and make conversation." And I turned and walked away.

So now I am SEETHING!

I walk around a bit, see the mom and the toddler from earlier and the toddler is happily sitting in the cart playing with a toy. We exchange pleasantries.

But my stomach is still churning. I don't like it that I put some ugliness out into the universe. That's not good karma. I turn out of an aisle and just about bump into the woman. In a split second, I made a decision.
I said, "I'm sorry I spoke to you like that. I didn't need to go and do that."
"I'm sorry too, I was looking for you because I was telling my daughter that I don't know what's wrong with me today. I've got a bad attitude."

We laughed. And it was a real laugh - not the wimpy woman giggle.

Coming up on my next post: My famous person meeting at the "new" Value Village later that same week.

Confidential to Mike A.: The whole reason I spoke to the woman in the first place was because of my new "speak to everyone" campaign motivated by the documentary. I guess it backfires sometimes!


Anonymous said...

Wow. That's pretty awful!

Good for you for letting it roll off you....

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

A whole lotta chit goes down in those VV aisles. Especially that one! Way to go for speaking up. AND for apologizing. You made her realize she was being rude, and yet, you've got no bad karma hanging out there.

Now I am DYING to know WHO you saw at the other one.

Laurie said...

Ellen, I don't know where to begin. First, you finished nursing Ruthie? I'm so happy to hear that you two have had such a wonderful loving experience together and hope you're wrapping up in exactly the way you'd wanted. Second, what a bi-atch in the store. I'm glad you two got closure. Third, I hear you on swallowing the judgmental part when you see other parents with their kids. When Zoe was born I had a few dark days and I remember thinking then that I would try to never judge another parent because you just don't know what they're dealing with. Well played. Fourth, I hope you found some good bargains. I need a bunch of winter stuff for the
girls for our upcoming trips and have no idea where I'm going to get it.

Stimey said...

I was all ready to be, "Good for you for standing up for yourself!" and then after reading the rest of your post and how wonderful it is that both of you stepped up, I feel small and petty.

This is an amazing story. And really, good for you.

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