Use your manners, please

Today is my son’s third birthday. In honor of his birthday, we stopped by Publix to buy some popsicles to take to his class at school. Despite being unruly and newly three, he behaved quite nicely in the grocery store, walking (not running) through the aisles and waiting as patiently in the checkout line as you could really expect him to wait. He even used his “inside” voice. We’ve been working on good behavior, and I was really pleased with him for showing that he’s catching on.

Too bad he had to witness an example of bad behavior from the woman in front of us.

The woman–a very well-to-do woman, based on her clothing and purse–informed the cashier that she was annoyed that the store never had any of her favorite flavor of her favorite brand of ice cream. He politely told her that he was sorry and directed her to the customer service stand so she could fill out a request form. She shook her head briefly and, with what I saw as a rather haughty wave of her hand, said, “Oh, no, I’m far too busy for that. I want you to take care of it.”

Great. Way to be Exhibit A for What Entitlement Looks Like. For the record, this was not a harried businesswoman balancing a Blackberry and her lunch, or a woman in scrubs obviously on the way to the hospital, or even a Junior Leaguer on the way to a volunteer stint. She was an older woman in expensive leisure clothes, buying all organic food and two bunches of fresh flowers. That is, she was someone who clearly DID have the time for that. It wasn’t that she was out-and-out rude, exactly. But she was clearly feeling entitled. Which is often a sort of a passive-aggressive form of rudeness.

Luckily, this little exchange was too subtle for my son to pick up on. But it annoyed me. I wanted to make a little remark like “Let’s use our manners” the way I do with my son. But of course, I didn’t. (I didn’t want to be rude. Nor did I want to embarrass the cashier.) I also wanted to apologize to the cashier for her behavior. I think I was rather obnoxiously nice to him after the woman pushed her cart away (without any ice cream). Can you be obnoxiously nice? I don’t know. I just hope I never sound like that. And I’ll be working on making sure my son never does, either.

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About jenniferlarsonwrites

I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College. I'm a born-and-bred Southerner who spent a few years in Southern California, a rabid baseball fan and a would-be grower of tomatoes. You can also visit me at LinkedIn or on Twitter at @JenniferLarson.
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