Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Because Some Things Just Must Be Documented…

People have always fascinated me.  I remember when I was a little girl and my grandparents would take me and my brothers to the mall.  My grandmother would take us around to shop for clothes or shoes, and my granddaddy would park himself on a bench and watch everyone walk by.  For HOURS.  I used to wonder how he could stand to sit there that long, but now I think I could probably do the same thing and never get bored.

Because, folks, people are entertaining.

Yesterday I was at Albertson’s grabbing a few groceries.  The lines were pretty long when I was ready to check out, and I parked my cart behind what I thought would be the shortest wait time.  After waiting a few minutes, I realized that the woman in front of me had a huge notebook overflowing with coupons, and she was going through her basket and matching up her items with coupons in preparation for checking out.  This particular Albertson’s doesn’t have the best track record in my experience on accuracy (in price scanning/coupons), and I knew this woman was going to be watching that cashier like a hawk.  I thought about moving to another line, but I decided to hang tight because I have been that woman, and I was interested to see how much this customer’s groceries were going to cost.  (Sad, I know.  But at least I’m admitting to being nosy).  And I’m so glad I didn’t move, because I would have missed out on what happened next.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw the corner of a blue racecar shopping cart being forced into the 12 inches of space between the front end of my cart and the coupon lady.  I looked over to see an attractive woman talking on a cell phone while trying to keep a 3-yr-old boy corralled inside the racecar.  I thought at first that she had come over to grab something from the candy or cold drink fridge that’s in the checkout area.  Then I realized that she was CUTTING IN LINE.  Blatantly.  Not even trying to disguise it.  Without any eye contact.  Still talking on the cell phone.

The coupon lady noticed what was happening when the blue racecar started pushing the back of her legs and she was forced to move forward.  The coupon lady’s eyes were priceless.  She looked at me as if to say, “Can you believe this woman?  Are you going to let her cut?”  I just shrugged and smiled a little as the mom continued to maneuver her racecar in between us. 

I had a choice to make.  I could make a scene and insist that she go to the back of the line, or I could lay back and do nothing.  Or I could say something full of sarcasm in a really sweet voice, which suits my passive-aggressive personality to a tee.  Guess which one I decided to do?  I planned to wait until she got off the phone, get her attention, and say, “It looks like you are in a big hurry.  It’s okay if you go in front of me.  I have time to wait.”

But, alas, I didn’t get the opportunity.  She abruptly cut off her cell phone conversation when her son managed to escape the confines of his blue racecar and pull about fifty gift cards off a display and throw them all over the floor.  When she started yelling at him for making a mess, he took off running through the store, weaving in and out of customers, hiding behind shopping carts, laughing gleefully as his mom frantically tried to catch him.

Since she had abandoned her cart, I thought about pushing it away and reclaiming my spot in line.  But the entertainment value was just too great.  I was fascinated to see if she would ever acknowledge the fact that she had cut in front of me.  She eventually caught her son’s shirt and started dragging him back to the blue racecar, threatening to “beat his butt” if he didn’t stay in the cart.  She pushed him into the driver’s seat, grabbed a celebrity magazine off the shelf, and started reading.  Still no eye contact with me.

Her son escaped again and started pulling candy off the shelves.  She glanced up, told him he “better get back in that cart RIGHT NOW”, then went back to reading her magazine as he ignored her and continued to dig around in the candy.  To which Grace loudly observed while pointing, “He’s not obeying his mommy!”  Still no eye contact with me.

Time went by very slowly because, as I had predicted, the coupon lady had to correct several errors in scanning and sale prices.  The boy started getting bored with the candy display, so he decided to take off running again and play hide-and-seek with his mom.  This time he ran all the way to the bank that is located in the grocery store, ignoring his mom’s orders to come back in line.  She lost sight of him and started counting loudly, “ONE!…TWO!…You better get where I can see you!…TWO AND A HALF!…Where are you?..I’m almost to three!...There you are!…Get back over here!…I’m fixing to say three!…If I say three you’re gonna get it!…That’s right, you come back now…Oh, good boy…Thank you for coming back…That’s a sweet boy…”  Seriously?  I couldn’t believe she was praising him. 

Grace was absolutely enthralled.  The boy went back to disorganizing the candy and mom went back to the celebrity magazine.  Still no eye contact.  At this point, there was a good-sized collection of scattered gift cards and candy on the floor.  Grace made another loud observation, “He’s making a mess!  That’s not very nice.”  I leaned over to tell her to be quiet and stop talking about the boy.  She responded by trying to look around me and said, “Mama!  Please move over.  I can’t SEE him!”  (Which the lady in line behind me thought was hilarious).

The lady with the coupons was still trying to correct the cashier, so we got several more minutes of entertainment while mom read the magazine, stopping occasionally to order her son to get back in the cart and behave (which he ignored).  Suddenly, the mom whipped around and looked me directly in the eye.  She said, “I really want to read this magazine.  But I don’t want to pay for it.  I would like to ALLOW you to go in front of me so I’ll have more time to read.”  I was so stunned that all I could do was grin and mumble a quick thank you.  The sweet irony of it all.  The mom made a big production of moving her racecar backwards and motioning for me to move in front of her. 

I used my feet to clear a pathway from all the gift cards and candy on the floor so I could push my cart back to my rightful spot in line.  (I still managed to run over a York Peppermint Patty.)  The cashier finally got the coupon lady’s total correct, so it was my turn to check out.  Miraculously, my items scanned correctly and my coupons all worked.  When it was time to pay, I saw the little boy playing with the credit card machine.  His mom had given him her credit card and he was swiping it, pretending to pay.  Mom was still reading the magazine, so I got her attention and said, “It’s okay with me if he pays for my groceries, but you might not like it as much!”  She looked up and told him to stop and come back over to where she was.  He ignored her and kept on pressing buttons on the machine.  Finally, I looked at the boy and said, “Excuse me!  I need to pay now.”  I gently pushed him aside as he continued to reach up and press the buttons.  I again told him, “No!  It’s my turn now.” as his mom obliviously read her magazine.  I used my body to block his access and swiped my card. 

As I was leaving, I felt overwhelming pity for that mom.  Can you imagine the stress level she is going to feel as her son grows older?  And becomes a teenager?  And goes to high school?  It will be a never-ending battle.  I felt a little guilty as I climbed into our car.  I really want to help moms who are struggling because I’ve been where they are and I am so thankful for people who have pointed me to examine the Scriptures and read good biblical parenting books.  But there’s a fine line between trying to help and being perceived as self-righteous.  I’m still trying to figure out how I could reach out to a struggling mom after witnessing something like that, if I respond at all.  Any advice or opinions would be welcomed!


Mimi said...

Thanks for such an entertaining blog! Proverbs says "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" and now I've had my dose for the day. Tell Gracie Beth I LOVE her short commentaries!

Mrs. Sprinkles said...

Okay--that was hilarious, but my favorite part was when Grace wanted you to move so she could see the boy!! Awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just, wow. It would have been bad enough if she hadn't "allowed" you to go in front of her. I'm afraid my passive-aggressive self would not have been able to refrain from a snide remark, despite knowing better. Good for you for not saying anything!

And I, too, laughed at Grace needing a better view of the misbehavior. Now you have a good reference for her ("remember that boy in the store with bad manners?").

the lewisi female said...

oh my goodness! I wish you had all that on camera or something! I seriously can't believe her audacity!! I do feel sorry for her though and especially for that little boy who obviously needs some attention and discipline. Good for you for not judging her... it's a good example for the rest of us who might have given in to a few quick remarks or encouraged Grace to make her remarks a little louder... I mean, she was only speaking the truth right? haha