Disclaimer: I am aware that even the best of folks have bad days. Maybe some of the idiots here were just having bad days. But I totally doubt it.
Disclaimer to the Disclaimer: Mr. Aryan Nation has no excuse whatsoever.
United States Postal Service Worker
February 11, 2011
This post is already cliche. I had you at USPS, didn’t I?
Under normal circumstances, I will wait to take trips to the post office when I can go alone or with only one child. But Friday was not that day. I had to go to the post office. I had to bring both children. And I did so, with ominous dread in my heart, obviously. Who wouldn’t?
So, I arrived and mailed my letters. But there was one package that I needed to actually take to the counter. The line was blessedly short. I had decided against putting Henry in the stroller, because while it does contain him, he makes a serious stink about being constrained in any way whatsoever. I didn’t know how long we’d have to wait in line, so I thought it would be better to have him relatively quiet while in line and then hope for the best when I had to step up to the counter.
So, as we waited in line, I let the kids wander around. They weren’t being wild or loud, but they were definitely roaming with zest.
It got to be my turn, and as I stepped up to the counter, Henry started pulling some greeting cards off of a circular rack. I knew that I was going to have to hold him during my short transaction, so I said to the woman helping me “Look. I’m going to go pick up my kid now. He is going to scream. He is going to scream the whole time. Nothing we do will calm him down. The kid does not like to be constrained in any way. Just do the transaction as quick as you can and my sincere apologies for the fright fest that is coming your way.”
She laughed and said, “No problem.”
So, I go and pick up Henry. Henry begins screaming. And I just hold on, calmly waiting for the woman to be done. The woman does not move quickly, and I’m just desperate for her to finish my transaction so we can get out of there, but am remaining calm all the while whispering instructions into my child’s ear.
And then I hear her. Ms. United States Postal Worker, from three counters down. She says “You need to get those kids out of here. This ain’t no day care.”
Now, this is an embarrassing situation, at best, internet. I have often heard people (those with children and those without) complain about the noises that other children are making in public places, how they would NEVER let their children (real or imagined) do that, how those parents don’t deserve to co-exist with you and can you believe how rude they are to allow their children to disturb so many people, I mean, come on, grab your kid and get the fuck out of here because your family is disturbing my peaceful post office experience.
But can I say, that when your child breaks down so loudly in a public place, for about 98% of parents, this is a deeply stressful, upsetting, and embarrassing situation and they are WAY more upset about it than you are. If I enjoyed anyone in my family bursting into screaming fits of rage in public places, I’d probably cut out the middle man and just do it myself.
When my kids behave in this way, I start to sweat (literally, I sweat), I get hives on my chest, and my heart starts racing. But do I let anyone see that? NO, I DO NOT.
I cannot reveal this to my children, because do you know what that would do, internet? It would alert my children to the fact that they were winning and it would make them throw tantrums every time they wanted something which is all the time.
In the face of a tantrum, I wholeheartedly feel that if I am ANY sort of parent, I will not react. I will calmly reassure my child that his behavior is not ok, that I want him to stop and tell me how he is feeling in another less violent way and even feeding him the exact wording of how he could express this to me, and that if he cannot stop reacting to the problem in this alarming way, there will be an undesirable consequence.
But what I don’t do, internet, is jerk my child by the arm and shout “BE QUIET OR YOU’RE GONNA GET IT.” Because 1) Paying attention to him — good or bad — is exactly what he is trying to get me to do and will only teach him to throw tantrums more, 2) you don’t teach a child to react calmly to stressful situations by freaking out like an insane person 3) it’s bitchy.
I suppose I could have just told the woman at the counter that I’d have to just come back another time. But I was like 2 minutes, if that, from being complete. I had made a special trip specifically to the post office to mail this one package. I had put on 3 pairs of boots, three winter coats, three hats, trudged down the icy snowy street with two children, carried them over glaciers to buckle them into their car seats, and drove through traffic and navigated an overcrowded parking to mail this one package. And I was two minutes away from success.
And, on top of that, about 80% of my time is spent trying to get Henry to express himself in socially acceptable ways. He’s stubborn, explosive, quick to anger, independent and 18 months old. It is hard work. I am relentless about it and, frankly, exhausted by it. I don’t get no respect, man.
I JUST WANTED TO MAIL MY MOTHERFUCKING PACKAGE.
So, when this woman threw her bitchy comment my way, I was unable to resist the bait. “Did you actually just say that to me? That was extraordinarily rude.”
She looked shocked that I called her out on her under her breath comment.
“Well, this ain’t no daycare.”
“Do you really think that I think your post office is my day care? Do you actually think that I am enjoying this?”
“You better get that screaming baby out of here.”
“I would just like to state for the record, that you disgust me and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
And then we left. And I got in the car, gave my children lollipops to quiet them down (YES, I did!) and then I burst into tears.
People without empathy, I find them horrific.
My mother and several friends have suggested I call the branch manager, but I can’t. 2 of my 3 Hall of Shamers have had really thankless terrible jobs, and I just don’t think that’s a coincidence. I don’t think it’s an excuse either, but for some reason, it gives me pause. She’d probably be a first class bitch even if she had a really kickass job, but something in me just can’t do it. Perhaps it’s empathy.
Putting her in my Hall of Shame will have to suffice. Next time I’m at the post office, I’m going to try and snag a picture so she can claim her fifteen minute of fame.
Mr. Aryan Nation at the Jewel
Met October 18, 2010
I was at the deli counter trying to get turkey. The boys were in one of those obnoxious gigantic car carts. They were being unusually cute, and I noticed an older man watching them fondly. I smiled at him, appreciating him appreciating my kids. He wrongly took my smile as a cue that I was a member of his racist club, and said the following to me: “Your boys are going to have a real problem in our schools. They’re going to be the only kids left around here with blonde hair, if you know what I mean. It’s going to be a real problem for them.” And then, he winked at me.
I felt like I’d been slimed. He stared at me expectantly for a long time waiting for me to… what? Laugh? Agree? Demand the woman getting my turkey show me her papers?
I didn’t have a comeback, I’m ashamed to say. I was so surprised, not only by his openly racist and snarky comment, but also that he assumed I was on the same page with him. So I stood there with my mouth hanging open, staring at him.
Then we passed each other about 10,000 more times in the store and each time we would pass one another, he’d look pointedly at any non-white person who also happened to be in the aisle with us, then look at me as if to say “what did I tell you?” and then nod knowingly to my boys.
Toll Booth Operator
Met December 24, 2009
So, we’re driving back to Chicago from Indiana where we just celebrated Christmas Eve with my family. Sam is in the back seat freaking out about Santa. In order to expedite the bedtime routine, we have reminded him that Santa is out and about and only comes to leave toys when the kids are in bed. We have informed him that if kids do things like refuse to brush teeth or demand more milk, Santa just passes them by. So, now he’s totally worried that we’re running behind and not going to make it in time. He is desperate to go to bed.
We come up to the Skyway toll booth which I am told is the most expensive toll in the universe for the shortest actual distance traveled. Don’t check my facts, just roll with it. We slow down to let the machine catch our IPass, and then, of course, the car dies. I mean, you saw that coming a mile away, right? Sam’s level of anxiety skyrockets and he starts asking questions a mile a minute about what Santa might do under these circumstances. Though I don’t recall for certain, I would bet a large sum of money that Henry was crying loudly by now. That’s pretty much been his M.O. during car rides from day one.
We are unsure what to do — call a tow truck, call my father, wait for a toll booth operator to help us? The obvious solution, we decide, is to attempt to start the car 40 bazillion times. At 40 bazillion and one, we are convinced that the car is officially dead.
By this point, we are relieved to see a toll booth operator approaching. My drama is kicking into high gear now and I’m totally channeling Mary at the inn. She will be playing the part of the innkeeper. We roll down our window ready to receive her warm Christmas Eve assistance.
“You can’t stay there. You gotta move to the side. You’re blocking a lane.”
Why thank you for stating the obvious, idiot.
“Yes, well, our car died. We can’t really go anywhere at the moment.
“You gotta push the car over to the shoulder. You’re blocking a lane.”
“We have a four year old and one year old in the car. It’s freezing cold. It’s the middle of the night. You want us to push our car through eight lanes of traffic to get to the shoulder? How exactly do you propose we do that and not get killed?” Craig’s lips are already pinched in that familiar way. I can tell we are going to be discussing her customer service skills at length. Craig’s really into customer service.
“You’re blocking a lane.”
“There are eight other lanes. You’re not backed up. Can we please stay here for a moment while we figure out what to do?”
“Sir! Ma’am! If you don’t move your car now, I’m going to be calling the police. You are disrupting traffic.”
There is a long hazy span now where we attempt to reason with her lunacy, where we refuse to listen to her, where we ask to speak to her manager. It’s all useless. There is no blocking a lane in her world. There is just no room at this particular inn.
Now, I understand that this woman was probably ticked to be working Christmas Eve. Hell, she was probably ticked to be working any eve, because who wants to be a toll booth operator? Nevertheless, I would hope that, in these circumstances, she could, at the very least, not threaten to call the cops on us.
I am so enraged at this point, I am feeling ready to punch this chick in her face. But of course I can’t do that, because my kids are watching. I get out of the car and calmly close the door and ask her in the nicest voice I can muster “Listen lady, it’s Christmas Eve. We have a dead car. We have two small children with us, one of whom is now hysterical because we can’t get home to go to sleep so Santa can come, the other is hysterical 99% of the time because we don’t even know why. We know you are just doing your job, but can you please try, at the bare minimum, to just be nice about it? Just be polite. That’s all we’re asking here.”
She looks truly shocked. “I think I am being nice,” she tells me in her most affronted voice.
And with that, I regret to inform you, she totally won. There was nothing more to say. We pushed our car to the shoulder. We sang carols and waited for the tow truck to arrive. My father and brother drove out and lent us a car to borrow for a few days. And we went home and had a lovely time putting out milk and cookies and carrots, waking up to a wonderful Christmas Day. But I still think of her often, about what a huge jerky mean unhelpful person she was. And I wonder if she ever thinks of it herself and is ashamed. I doubt it. Idiot.