The Public and I have had a challenging time lately.

It all started with the Checkout Lady at Michael’s – remember her?

The only explanation that I can think of for what has happened since then is that she was so worried about my disdainful care of my infant that she called together an urgent meeting of all of her fellow members of the Awkwardly Intense Busybody Club and urged them to begin stalking me.

First, there was the AIBC Member at Chick-Fil-A.

The Kids and I were at the mall – the ultimate in crazy Chick-Fil-A experiences.  The counter guy said, “Next in line, please”, and made eye contact with me, generally indicating that he somehow magically knew that I was next in line even though the “line” looked more like cattle being prodded into a pasture fifty times too small.

(I was going to use a Tinkerbell / Sprinting Thistles analogy there, but, just in time, considered the fact that maybe all of you don’t watch as much Tinkerbell as I do.)

So.  Right as I was about to move forward, someone cut in front of me to get a drink refill.

I really didn’t mind – I’ve been there before, too, just desperately wanting a refill and not wanting to wait behind the herd of cattle / Sprinting Thistles to get it.  So I waited patiently, knowing that her refill interruption would take approximately 5 seconds off of my day.

However, the lady behind me valued those 5 seconds much more than I.  In a tone indicating a strong opinion about my inability to control my own destiny, she spoke into my ear, “She cut in front of you, huh?”

Without turning, I said, “Yup.”

Then, in the exact same ooey gooey syrupy sweet voice that Michael’s Lady used when she told Noah that he was going to choke and die because of my lack of care, Line Lady bent over in Noah’s general direction and cooed, “We just need to learn to be more assertive, don’t we?”

Obviously, somebody somewhere is teaching a class called “The Ultimate in Subtlety: Say It To Their Baby”.

Then there was the AIBC Member at Publix.

I don’t know where you stand on this issue, but there are two types of people in the world:

1. The type of person who wants someone to greet them, offer to help them, and be at their beck and call their entire shopping experience, and

2. The type of person who desires above all else to be left alone with their thoughts and their shopping, and abhors overly pushy or even just helpful clerks.

Okay, there are three types.

3. The type of person who wants the clerk to leave them alone until they absolutely need something, and then magically appear.

I’m a type two, at times pushing type three – but only if I’ve already searched thoroughly for what I need.  I mean, I wish they knew the magical time to appear, but usually instead they appear right when Ali is asking an embarrassing question or I’m wiping leaking poo off of Noah and their merchandise.

So anyway, because of my typical type-twoness, I have an aversion to accepting help from the Publix bag-boys when they offer to take my groceries out to my car.  It just seems too – luxurious, or something.

So last week, on a day when the heat index was well over 100 degrees, I headed to my car with both kids and a cart full of groceries.


As I was trying to wrangle Noah’s first Car-Buggy trip and get the groceries out without letting him roll down the hill or do this to the steering wheel,

the lady owning the minivan next to me arrived, no kids, with the bag-boy pushing her cart.

And apparently, despite her super-magic double-sided sliding doors and automatically opening rear gate, she wanted her groceries loaded in on the side I was using.

She impatiently waited for me to get my groceries and kids shoved into the car so that she could stand there and continue to tap her foot while the bag-boy loaded her van.

As I was putting the last of what felt like a dozen kids into the car, I said “Sorry”, quietly in her general direction.

At which she replied haughtily, “I NEVER bring my kids grocery shopping with me.”

Oh.  Well there you have it.  Obviously, I should have just left them at home.

66 thoughts on “The Awkwardly Intense Busybody Club.

  1. Arg! Why is it so easy for us to forget that we all don’t have the same lifestyle and opportunities available to us? Lately I’ve had to pull the “well, that’s not how our family does things” line out and use it on me, my kids and people around me. I love the way you take frustrating moments and turn them into a comical story. I wonder what that lady would have said if she had parked next to me trying to load a months worth of groceries and my four kids!

  2. have you seen all the hubbub going on about grocery stores and restaurants banning kids?! Sounds to me like rude grocery store lady needs to start shopping at those No Kids Allowed Grocery Stores and keep her foot taps and comments to herself. I don’t think I would have been able to contain my rude replies to her!!

  3. I would’ve had to ask the woman at Publix if that was an invitation for her to watch your kids the next time you needed to grocery shop. That’s how I roll. :)

  4. Oh I am SO much a number 2 it’s not even funny! I got so mad when our Walmart got rid of the self-checkout because now I actually have to TALK to someone and let them touch all of my items AND bag my groceries when I go. Can’t we go ahead and get to that whole automated grocery system where you don’t even have to check out???

  5. Scene: Walmart last year, Ally sitting on a pack of pullups in the shopping cart. Sitting AND holding on to the sides.

    Someone came up to me and told me that I needed to put her in the seat and buckle her in because she could die if she falls on her head on the concrete floor.

    O rly? Kthx.

  6. I think something about you attracts these kind of rude busybodies! I am always appalled when you repeat what rude people have said to you or commented on your blog. CRAZY! Obviously you know you’re a great mom who is most concerned with your kids’ well-being.

    And P.S. I am just like you, a 2 pushing a 3 sometimes. ;)

  7. 1. I miss Publix, and it makes me sad that you had a less than perfect experience (which is how I choose to remember them). 2. My first (sinful) reaction is to want to say something (untrue) back to make them feel really bad, (ex. well with my husband away at war, or I’m watching a friends kids who is really sick). 3. Anyway, I suppose we should consider ourselves ambassadors for the “children are great” club. And maybe they will join the “keep your opinions to yourself” club.

  8. Oh yeah… When my son was 4 months and in the midst of a meltdown while I was checking out, I had a lady say to me: “When MY children were young, I left them with a babysitter while I shopped”… Bully for you, lady.

    1. Seriously? I bet that doubled her grocery expenses. Geez…I can’t imagine getting a babysitter every time I needed to grocery shop!

  9. Wow, I don’t even have words for the lady at publix. That was just rude! Other commentors are right, not everyone has the luxury to leave their kids at home when they go grocercy shopping. I am definitley a type 2 sometimes 3 in cases of extreme emergency. I even will try to dodge the help before they can ask if I need help. I never let the bag person help me to my car, I am not an invalid. As far the the Chic-Fil-A person, I would have let the person wanting a refill cut too. That is a part of my if I do something nice like that, maybe the next time someone will let me cut for a refill theory.

  10. Geez Rachel… you really should have kicked that parking lot lady. Then you could call the Chic-fil-a person and tell them how good you were getting at being assertive. Then they could all get together over some crafts and chicken and have a meeting about you and cluck about your poor mistreated children. Ridiculous.

  11. I’m assuming this was the Mtn Brook Publix and her children were at home with the live in nanny. You should totally do that, too. Ugh!

    1. Yup, that was where it was. And yup, she must have had some sort of paid childcare because it was in the middle of the day…in the middle of the summer.

  12. Don’t you just have to feel really sorry for people who make stupid comments? I always wish I had the presence of mind to sweetly and sincerely respond with, “Thank you for your concern, and I hope the rest of your day is REALLY wonderful!” (Instead of what I am in my human-ness REALLY thinking!) Then I am reminded that it is better to keep quiet and let people think I am stupid than to open my mouth and remove all doubt. (I know someone wise said that a long time ago, but I can’t remember who it was just now. [Mark Twain, maybe paraphrasing the Bible?])

  13. Well, I guess the “If you think TV is better than sex, than you are doing it wrong” wouldn’t apply here. I am so waiting to have the opportunity and the gumption to actually say that to someone who smarts off to me about how I should get a TV in the bedroom.

    People can be so rude and even though I try to just chalk it up to them having a bad day or something, it can still be irritating.

    Next time, use the bag boy yourself. Let him be putting YOUR groceries in the car while you are loading up the children. If he is helping you he won’t be “available” to help her. And after all, she doesn’t bring her children to the store, ever, so she doesn’t need the help.

  14. I vote for a brainstorming session at tomorrow night’s small group on a few quick replies to have at the ready for just these types of encounters. I am going to begin thinking of ideas now. My m.i.l. told me that she was at Target with Chuck when he was about two and he kept darting under the clothes racks while she was waiting for something. After a while another customer rudely said, “I am so glad he is not mine!” My m.i.l. kindly and wisely looked at her and said, “Me too!”

  15. I do not understand why people have to be all up in your business or why the public has become so rude. The first group must not have a life of their own and the second group, well…..just need to learn patience. Do we always have to be in such a hurry we have to be rude. I hate when someone blows the horn at me thinking I should pull into traffic when I am not yet comforable pulling out. Rachel, maybe number one thinks you are so young you do not know what you are doing with two kids. You could be a teenager to some of these old folks.

  16. I so want to know which Michaels you went to. There is one lady that I always try to avoid. I wonder if it is the same one? (: I hate their new stupid lining up to check out system by the way. I have been passed waiting in line before because people just don’t get it. And with the CFA lady would it not be her that made the mistake of letting someone in front of you? Shouldn’t she have asked that person to wait? I have no words for the Publix lady. I mean really? I would have loved to have known where her kids were and why she couldn’t load her own groceries. I usually bypass the grocery help to. I definitely do if I’m alone. Geez! I would love to hear your list of comebacks from small group! (:

  17. Yep, I NEVER bring my children out in public with me either. And I ALWAYS make a scene in the fast food line. What’s your problem?! ;-)

  18. I was going to make a (snobby) wager on which Publix you were shopping at when I read down the comments and you confirmed my guess. Reminds me of a friend’s experience eating lunch with her (exceptionally well behaved) toddler at Surin Mt. Brooke. She said her daughter had been great through the whole meal, completely content playing with a few rice grains on the table, when my friend noticed a lady nearby staring her down and actually, literally, tsk tsking. Erin sweetly asked her if there was a problem and the lady replied, “Well, where I’m from we don’t let our children eat off the table!”

  19. And I’m a total #2 also, but I finally took the Publix bagger up on his offer to take my basket out for me because it was 100 degrees and I was exhausted from rolling that huge thing through the store with two kids, one of whom grabbed at everything she saw and kept trying to climb out. I held the baby, while he pushed the cart and unloaded. Heavenly! It was one of the better decisions I’ve made. Treat yourself next time and let them help :)

  20. People are so ridiculous. I can’t even handle it. I was cracking up at this post because what else can you do but laugh at these insane people? Wow!

    Also, I always take full advantage of the cart boy taking my groceries out because I feel guilty if I don’t. I think they enjoy the 5 minutes of fresh air & freedom. Even when it rains I feel like they just want an escape. Lol

  21. I too have ran into people who don’t take their children shopping either and I find it appalling. I have forced my children to go with me since they were born and now I have two helpers, 8 and 10. Who know how to behave and not act a fool when they see the candy aisle or the candy right before checkout. I refuse to leave them at home because someone doesn’t like it. Mind you, when my oldest was 2, he was known as “the screamer” at the Kroger. Its a good thing he got past that.

    1. I think that’s brilliant of you. If you don’t give them the opportunity to be trained, well, they’ll turn out like that lady!!

  22. My MIL makes those annoying comments to the baby, and it drives me NUTS.

    I’m at a loss of words for how rude some people can be. Miss Snobby McPublix probably has a private nanny watching her bratty kids at home!

  23. I LOVE the story Lydia told. I am all for some quick replies to stupid and rude comments. When people see my small gaggle of kids in a store and say, “oh don’t you know what causes that?” I steal a line that Natalie says, “Um, yes, sex (I think), and we like it very much.” I also love that the CFA line lady was all about “assertiveness” while talking to a baby and NOT to you directly. Geesh. Baby talkers drive me nuts. I have said to someone, “you do realize he doesnt understand what you are talking about, right?” Just to make it painfully obvious that they are being an idiot. Sorry.. this issue makes me nuts. People astound me with their ability to butt in on other people with their opinions. (beathe) okay.. I will go take a shower now to calm my BP. Sorry you keep having these people interrupt your day. And I hope you and Lydia were able to come up with some good zingers.

    1. So the baby-talking thing is common, then? We really do need to come up with some responses…like maybe talking “for” the baby in a baby voice back at them?

  24. Well, I’m glad THAT lady has a perfect life. Good grief!! I would have turned around and said something like: well, my husband died, thanks for reminding me I’m all alone. Or some other lie. Just to make her realize that you never know another’s situation. People need to learn that they don’t need to say every thing that pops in their head!!

    1. Oooh – I like that one! I think I could even work up some fake tears to throw in for good measure!

  25. At that point, you stop, briefly pause, act like you hear something then say, “Ma’am, I think you left one of your kids in the storage compartment, I just heard a scream.”

  26. Ohhhhh I would have totally went Back-woods Bama-Girl ape on the Publix lady. Ok, maybe not quite that bad, but I would have HAD to reply – my blood would have been boiling! I’m the same way, I don’t want the nice Publix guy looking into my who-knows-what’s-in-it car, and I like to think of myself of a capable, independent woman- even with baby-in-tow.
    I REALLY am not trying to share a similar story with every post, I promise, but I had a very similar instance that really bears repeating! We were visiting my sister’s future MIL at the time, when she was in her last days with breast cancer at the hospital, and I brought Landon up to see her in his stroller. A lady pounced on me as SOON as we stepped off the elevator and said “Oh, you don’t need to have that baby up here- I’ve had 3 nurses and 2 doctors tell my daughter that she doesn’t need to bring her baby around all these germs… blah blah blah..” (hello, this is the end-of-life floor, not the contagious disease floor!) and then when I tried to politely acknowledge her but shoo her off, she REPEATED herself to which I replied – “well thank you, but I am his mother and I think I know what is best.” She then walked to the end of the hallway, and I promptly started fuming to my mother with something like “Can you believe the NERVE of some people?!”… little did I know, she was standing in earshot, and heard me go off about her, and she CAME BACK and apologized, and then said “BUT… and repeated her original story AGAIN”! I finally told her that this was a very sensitive time right now, and the she needed to leave us alone. Oh, and the best part… the next night we went (Landon included) to the hospital to spend the night there and be moral support to my sis, and who do you think was sitting in the waiting room when we walked in?? You guessed it. Oh, and he was an absolute angel the entire time, and never once got sick… or even had a stuffy nose! Grrrr… :)

  27. Ya know what REALLY bugs me? When someone comes up to me and falls all over my baby girl, while my 4 and 6 year old boys (who hang onto every word you say) are with me, and says (while totally IGNORING my boys) “Ooooohhhh, you FINALLY got your girl!!!” Now, don’t get me wrong…I ADORE my baby girl and can’t imagine my life without her now…but I was just as complete with two boys…smelliness and all. Boys aren’t chopped liver. They’re fantastic and hilarious and sweet and amazing. The end. Stepping off of my soap box;).

    1. Yes, I can totally see how that would be awful!! Your poor boys. Makes me want to say something nice about them in front of them!!

  28. I know at the time this wasn’t funny, but it did make for an amusing blog, didn’t it? Some folks just don’t get it, ever. The lady in the parking lot…she would have made me mad. The lady in line whispering to your little one deserved a good, long, hard glare.
    You have very beautiful children…

  29. Rachel, I doubt I could have come up with a comment on the spot fir either lady. But after the fact I must admit I would have thought about smiling sweetly at the grocery store lady and saying “Really, I just dint think I could bring myself to be that lazy.” I am a mom of four and I take all four to the grocery store with me. My husband and I agree that the only way our children will ever learn to act I. Public is to take them with us. Yes, we sometimes have meltdowns or have to make a zillion trips to the bathroom. And yes, it takes more time to shop. But we feel like we are investing our time in teaching them. So you just take the kids wherever you go and be satisfied knowing you will be rewarded with two well behaved children who know how to act in public. If you think about it, the rude women who spoke to you that way were raised the same way….. Saying whatever they felt with complete disregard as to who it might offend. You are the bigger person for not snapping back at their rudeness.

    1. I like that approach, exactly, how will they ever learn how to act in public if you never let them go in public places! Kudos.

    2. I agree!! Childhood is a training ground – and if you hole them up in situations that they can’t learn how to mature and behave, then how will they learn?

  30. Wow, the NERVE of some PEOPLE!!!
    I never let the bagger help me either… I hate the awkward feeling of silence/trying to make conversation in the walk to the car! :) Of course, now we only go to Walmart so no baggers there… :)

  31. I kept this one marked unread in my google reader just so I could come back to it and see all the comments. Relocating to the Pacific NW, I have always said I miss the people from the South most — even more than sweet tea, warm weather, and good food — but now I realize how much people really do talk in the South! Sheesh! You’ve found every loud mouth without a censor/filter. I hope for your sake you didn’t meet them all in one day! But I definitely agree with you being patient and teaching your children how to behave in public. Thank you for encouraging the rest of us to do so as well! =)

  32. I know this is totally a late comment. I don’t know how I missed this post, but I had to share. I had that same exact thing happen to me that happened to you at CFA! The lady behind me made a comment similar to yours, so I turned to my kids and said “Not everyone’s mommy has taught them patience, have they?”

      1. I got a very huffy snort. I was too afraid of what might come out of my mouth to turn around and look her in the eye, but from the faces of the people around me I’m sure her reaction was amusing.

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