I Feel Sorry For Mean People

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by Cheryl

Reposted from Cheryl’s personal blog and edited for clarity.

I drive a very large van. It’s a necessity (we have several children), and although sometimes it means parking can be an adventure, I’m getting pretty good at it.

Yesterday, I put my two little ones into the massive beast (we call her “Bison”) for some errands. Shopping at Target usually is fun for me, but the boys were not having their best day. I had to stop a couple of tantrums, but we slowly made it through our list and out to the van. After they calmed down and we reassessed the situation, I decided to cross one store off our list, but I really needed to get to Trader Joe’s. The boys fell asleep on the way down, which wasn’t a problem, as traffic was incredibly slow. The parking lot for Trader Joe’s was jam-packed –tons of people doing last-minute shopping there and at all the stores surrounding it. I searched for a reasonable parking spot that could fit Bison, and luckily I found one! I cleared it really well and parked, but I knew I wasn’t at the best angle. I got out of the van and before getting my kids out, I checked to make sure the car next to me could get in and out. It was fine –sure, I was parked at a slight angle, but the car would be able to get out without any trouble.Bison

I took the kids inside. They were out of the things I had come to get, but we found some yummy treats and waited patiently in the long line. A very nice gentleman talked to me and my four-year old (my toddler was asleep on my back in the Beco carrier) about Christmas and his grown daughters while we waited in line, and everything was pleasant.

We wished the man a Merry Christmas as we parted, walked out to the van, I parked the cart behind it, opened the sliding door, and noticed that the car next to me was new –the other one had left and this one had parked here without any problem. I felt relief.

As I walked back to get my son out of the grocery cart, a woman –about 50? –was walking by us (I noticed she had parked a few cars down the row). She leaned into my four-year old and said:

“Maybe next year you can teach your mom how to drive.” Then she turned to me and said, “Ya Idiot!” She kept walking.

I was stunned.

But I was quick and called after her, “Merry Christmas to you, too!”

My son said, “What did that lady say, mom?” and I said, “She was just being very rude.”

I got in the car and put the kids in, and I was mortified. Mortified that a perfect stranger would speak like that to me –and do it through my child. I was embarrassed because I was already very aware about the size of my car, and I had been worried about my parking job. I was hurt because it’s a stressful time (for everyone!) and did she realize how awful those words were?

I cried the whole way home.

As I cried, my four-year old asked me in his sweet little voice, “Mom, what’s whawng?”

I said, “I’m just sad because of the mean things that lady said to me, buddy. Do you see how mean words can hurt people?”

He thought about it for a minute. This was a good thing, dear reader, because he has been struggling with calling people names for a while, now. I could see his brain turning and it was starting to dawn on him how words can hurt.

I said, “We need to pray for that woman, buddy. She must have a really awful life to say such horrible things to strangers in parking lots. I feel bad for her.”

kindness (1)And then this: “Also, sweetie, do you remember that nice man in the store? We need to pray for him, too, and thank Heavenly Father for him. He was so nice, and his kindness made up for the mean lady in the parking lot.”

This is what I learned from this experience:

1. I needed a good cry. In a way, I’m grateful I got it, because I think it’s been building (the stress of our recent move across the country, loneliness, the stress of Christmas, etc.).

2. Mean People who speak to complete strangers in parking lots in a passive aggressive (and then aggressive) way are not very common. At least it hasn’t been common in my life! This makes me feel better that she’s in the minority.

3. My son learned how words hurt.

4. I’m grateful that I know I would never speak to people in this way –but do I? Do I speak to those I love in this way?

5. All of us need to have some more patience and love towards people, but especially at this time of year! That parking lot was full of people who were rushing to get Christmas things finished. Are we really going to be impatient and rude simply because we can? We should be giving people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, think about it –what if I had been dying of cancer and she said this? What if I had just lost a spouse or sister or father? What if I had been purchasing goods for a funeral? Or for the hospital? She knew nothing about me, and yet chose to be petty and rude and vindictive. The sad part was that it wasn’t affecting her at all! Why call me out over something that has nothing to do with her?

So, yes. I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for mean people. Their lives must be miserable.

KindnessDear reader, be more patient with people. Assume the best and spread some Christmas cheer this week. Love, and then love some more. Everybody deserves some kindness.

Be like the gentleman in Trader Joe’s –not the woman in the parking lot.

About Cheryl

Cheryl has been blogging for many years about --but not limited to --her children (there are six), her husband (there is one), her depression (not fun), her travels (very fun!), her religion (loves it), and anything else that strikes her fancy. Right now she's probably reading a book or changing a diaper, maybe at the same time...

5 Responses to I Feel Sorry For Mean People

  1. Ramona Gordy says:

    Awesome, you got it right. I have a beast too. My husband mentioned something in Sunday school last week, someone at his job had asked him about the “bullit proof underwear” that Mormons wear. Stay with me on this. After chuckling, he bore a sweet testimony of the Armor of God. We take upon ourselves the “whole armor”, which wholeness meaning the peace of the Savior, shalom and all that. And in taking on this spiritual armor, that can manifest into the physical; bullit proof undies, we have the promise of protection from the fiery darts, and smart remarks and other mean things. What is that protection, does it mean no one will be mean to us? Hardly, but it does mean, like in your circumstances we can turn the other cheek. Does turning the other cheek mean getting sucker punched? Nope, it means that like you we can respond by “turning on the LIGHT’, blow a little sunshine someone’s way, praying for those who spitefully treat us, and teaching our children the RIGHT WAY. Merry Christmas Sister

  2. Michelle says:

    I’m sorry for this! I had a bad experience today too with mean people. I went with my four children to a high end grocery store on the other side of town. I was looking for a very specific ingredient and was shopping on that side of town. I have never been to this store before but it was obvious that I wasn’t part of their regular clientele because of the number of children I have. I always get tuhe “hands full” phrase, but someone actually looked at me and said, “Wow, that’s a lot of children” and then rolled their eyes. Part of me thinks it was funny, the other part of me is hurt that someone would say something that directly judgemental to my face.

    When faced with moments like these I try to remember that I have covenanted to take upon me the name of Christ, and as a Christian, I need to be kind and gentle (within reason). Just because they were condescending and rude to me doesn’t mean I need to be that way in return. Perhaps I can change their attitude about children simply by seeing how much joy I find in mine. And even if not, I can at least not retaliate.

    But part of me wishes they would have walked into a door or slipped on something and fallen.

    Apparently, I have a ways to go in my Christlike behavior.

    • Cheryl says:

      Michelle, thank you for the chuckle. :) I have been the recipient of many comments about the number of children I have, and I, too, have had to learn to take it in stride. If anything, it’s a chance to bear my testimony about the greatness of families and the blessing of children!

  3. templegoer says:

    I think often people’s comments about the size of one’s family come from a place of envy- a kind of’ ‘ how comes you can manage that, I know I couldn’t’ which comes out as an attack. Some people don’t like to see someone doing thing they can’t, and family is a pretty raw subject for most of us one way or another. Doesn’t actually make it any easier on you though, other than to be able to say to yourself that this is a choice that you can rejoice in.
    I’m a little concerned about the ‘Happy Christmas’ thing though, I’m sure that was sincerely felt for you but may have been heard as passive aggression. Not living in a mormon community, when I spend time in mormon company I’m very aware how confusing that passive aggression can be.
    I’m hoping your christmas was a lot better than that poor woman’s christmas was shaping up to be.

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