When I was a very young mother I used to encounter what Ayun Halliday has dubbed The Old Lady Brigade. They were rude, opinionated and more than a bit bullying. They wore polyester and had blue rinses. When they weren't telling me how under dressed or overdressed my kids were they were telling me that I was much too young or shouldn't have the kids outside or any number of other things that I never asked them about.
I really hated those women. Not because I couldn't fight back. I could and did. I've always been a bit verbal. But because even while I was telling them how full of it they were, they still managed to play on the insecurities young mothers always tend to have.
I have a girlfriend that is pretty young, in her early 20s, that gave birth last month to her second child. She needed to go to the grocery store and I volunteered to go with her and help since a newborn and a 2 year old can make grocery shopping less than pleasant without a little help.
So, first, we are in the dairy aisle and these people are having a coffee klatch right there in front of the cheese she wanted about one of the guy's carwrecks. Their carts were surrounding them in such a way that it was impossible to reach through them and get the cheese. After about a minute of watching my friend stand there waiting helplessly I finally said, "This is all fascinating but could I please get the cheese?"
One of the guys -- it was two older couples -- looks at me says in tones of what sounded like challenge "So what's your story?"
I raised my eyebrows at him and said "If I told you, you would never believe me." At which point I moved his cart and grabbed the cheese.
I hate people who do this. It is one of the most annoying behaviors that you can encounter in a store involving carts. I was already irritable because it was hot outside and I don't like heat. This made me think evil thoughts about those people all the way to the last aisle where the bread is located.
So, we get to the bread aisle and the wife of the man who asked me the question has her cart parked across the aisle like a damn barricade. I kid you not. It was sideways in the aisle. I didn't say anything, I just took the cart and shoved it out of my way.
My friend was following along behind me and she needed something at the top of the aisle and I was going to go grind some espresso at the bottom of the aisle. When she gets done and gets to me she says, "That woman just told me I needed to put a blanket on the baby!"
I sealed my espresso bag shut, slammed it into the cart and said "Don't you worry about her. I'll fix her little red wagon."
Now my friend knows me. She's known me since she was in the 8th grade. She started dragging her feet obviously not so sure she wanted to be anywhere around when I fixed any little red wagons. So I told her that she could walk up the next aisle over if she liked. She thought about it and decided to follow me and watch.
I also want to explain here that it was 115 degrees that day. The last thing the baby needed was a damn blanket.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: You know, it is the epitome of impolite to offer advice to strangers in public who didn't solicit it. (My vocabulary tends towards 5 dollar words when I am irritated at idiots)
Me: It is rude and uncalled for to tell some girl you don't know what she should be doing with her child. You need to mind your own business.
Her: (comprehension dawns along with cowardice in her eyes) Oh, ummm, I thought about it after I said it and maybe I shouldn't have.
Me: You should have thought about it before and no, you shouldn't have.
Her: But...but... you don't understand. Their little nervous systems...
Me: Lady, I've raised several kids. Have you looked at the temp outside? It is 115 degrees. That baby does not need a blanket. She is a little fussy because she needs to be fed. Do the world a favor and don't give advice to young mothers you don't know. You are bad at it.
Now at this point I was done. But she was stupider than even I had imagined and the bar was pretty low in my mind. "Well, I hope you get over your anger. God bless you."
Bad, bad idea.
She then got a very low voiced lecture on how I wouldn't be quite so irritated if she and her friends didn't apparently believe the rest of the world didn't exist or matter. That the grocery store was not a damn social club and that no, it did not matter that her friend had been in a car wreck. What mattered was that they were all guilty of being entitled bastards. That she was the last one to be giving anyone advice on child rearing since someone had done an obviously piss poor job of raising her.
It was quite satisfying. I saw her in the same store this past weekend and she practically burned rubber on her cart to avoid me. Heh.
At any rate, I hate people like that. They would be bullies except they are too cowardly to even deserve that name. They always pick on some young woman that looks like she will scurry away or be suitably chastened. Hopefully this particular one will think twice before she does that again. Or parks her cart in everyone's way, for that matter.
If I ever get to the point where I start behaving like that would someone please shoot me? I'd rather die an untimely death than become one of them.