Monday, June 28, 2010

Stunned

The most shocking and unusual thing happened to me today. Really, I've never experienced anything to equal it. I'm still stunned and I'm not quite sure how to process what happened.

I had the kids out today to take care of some grocery shopping in the city. I thought to swing by a local tea shop to replenish my stash of tea, but the store didn't open for another half hour. To kill some time, I took the kids around the corner to a used bookstore. I wanted to find a specific book on U.S. History and I thought that they might have it. We browsed quickly through the Nature section and then headed back to the History section.

There was one man looking through the general U.S. History already, so I stopped the stroller and stood behind him a bit, trying to scan the titles quickly. After a minute, I tried to see if the books were arranged by author so I could see if the book was there or not--the kids were getting a little rowdy as they tried to entertain Henry into sitting still. I wasn't able to get anywhere, so I asked the man if he knew if the books were arranged by author or not.

He turned around and practically shouted, "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME? I think you are so RUDE to come back here with your KIDS. . ." and then proceeded to scold me in the harshest manner for DARING to bring my kids anywhere near him. I was absolutely shocked. My skin in still tingling all over from the encounter and my hands are still shaking. I told Thomas and Anna to go to the front of the store, mainly because I didn't know what this person was going to say next and I had no idea what would come out of my own mouth in the face of such confrontational behavior. They went a little bit away, though not quite far enough for my taste.

I wanted to explain that we were only going to be there for a minute and that I was trying to find a specific book and that then we would leave, but I only stammered a bit before he lit into me with a "No! NO! I'm not interested in anything you have to say, so JUST LEAVE." And of course, he was on a roll, so he didn't stop with that. Somewhere in my head I thought, "There is no reasoning with someone so divorced from common courtesy and feeling for others. Just walk away.", but I kept thinking that there must be something to say to help this man understand that I really wasn't trying to piss him off and that, really, I was only going to impose my kids on him for a minute. He was welcome to the History section for the rest of the day, for all I cared. But I quickly realized that there was nothing to say to anyone like this. He was past reason.

He got what he wanted, in the end. We left and I wondered in a numb manner what the life of someone like that must look like. As we walked back to the car, I told the kids, "Remember the people in the stories who don't like children? That man is one of them. You were a little noisy, perhaps, but it doesn't matter because that is someone who can never be pleased."

I'm still reeling from the encounter. I rarely bring all three kids out on my own because it's simply easier to get our few errands run in the evenings by myself. And I thought it would be ok to go to a big used bookstore with less than mouse-like kids. One spends so much time and energy avoiding being a public nuisance that it comes as something of a shock when it happens anyway.

7 comments:

woolandchocolate said...

I take five kids with me everywhere I go. Sometimes I can't believe how rude and intolerant people can be. While I have never had that extreme of an experience, I know what you are feeling. I had a man tell me, right in front of all of them, that he knew I was in a personal hell and he felt sorry for me! I smiled at him and said, "Actually, I am having the time of my life" and I herded the kids away.
I pity that man you spoke of. He obviously is missing out on some real joy!

Shaun Tabatt said...

Sarah,

I'm so sorry you had such a terrible experience. How could anybody be so furious with you and those cute little ones? ;) Unfortunately, I think this is a pretty common experience for Moms who are out in public with their kids in tow. Lynette tends to get way more comments than I do. I wonder if people (especially men) are more apt to make comments to the Moms out in public, but not the Dads. Just a thought.

Angoraknitter said...

Yikes! What a horrible encounter, I'm certain I too would be shell shocked from his brutish meanness. I doubt I would respond with much wit, so I have no gems of advice or wisdom to offer. Hang in there and be sure to try the book store again soon, don't let him scare you away from taking the kids out... we can't keep them inside forever.

scmom (Barbara) said...

What a sad, sorry soul. I guess it's a good thing that children's stories are known for curmudgeonly characters, so the children can relate. I'm sorry for you -- you should never have to defend normal childlike behavior. I'm sure you've thought of a hundred things you could have said, but it's probably best you didn't think of them right off. There's no arguing with those kind.

I truly believe that he will have to account for his behavior, and the consequences he caused.

Danielle said...

That's just awful!

In the face of those types of situations I try to remind myself that I have no idea what happened to that person, that day. Perhaps they are in the midst of the worst possible day of their life. It still doesn't excuse the behavior, but it keeps lendrum getting so angry.

Jeanne said...

Oh my goodness me. What an experience.

I remember once as a small child going to lunch with friends of my parents. The husband was just like the man you described. I will never forget the agony of that day, nor having to choke down Apple Pie - which I hated. (Not now, though!)

Thanks for dropping by my blog, Sarah. I am delighted to meet another used book loving knitter!!

Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said...

How totally rude!! Rudeness should just be banned!

Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day. Another Stephen King? That's funny; I got a lot of interesting comments from that post!