It’s not hard to be nice to people, especially when they are minding their own business. However, for some people, it doesn’t seem like an easy task. These shoppers recall the disrespect they encountered while standing in the checkout line. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“It was Christmas, I was all done Christmas shopping or so I thought. I had to get one or two more items. I also had my granddaughter ‘Ladybug’ and had to take her with me. The only place I knew would be open at that time was Walmart, my least favorite place to be, at any time of the day.
We got there, of course, it was packed with last-minute shoppers. I got what we went to get and headed to the checkout line. As soon as we got there, the line started to get longer and longer; right at that time, Ladybug announced she had to pee. There was a lady in front of us with a ton of things.
She was just about to start unloading when I asked her, ‘Can we ahead of you please? My granddaughter has to pee.’
Ladybug started to do the ‘I need to pee dance.’
The lady looked at Ladybug up and down and looked back at me and said as loud as she could, ‘So it’s now my fault your little brat can’t hold her pee?’
Ladybug started crying. I don’t know what got into me, maybe I was tired from all the cooking and cleaning for the holiday, but the next thing I knew I was throwing her stuff off her cart to the floor, and tilting the cart over. I didn’t even realize I was also breaking things. Ladybug stopped crying in shock. I just took her hand and dropped what I went there for and took my baby to the restroom.
When we got out of the restroom, one of the managers was waiting for us. She handed me my things and told me to go to the customer service center and they would check me out. I did and we left. I felt bad about my behaviors, bringing myself to her level. I felt bad that Ladybug had to hear someone calling her a brat or seeing her Nana having a meltdown.”
“I had been shopping in a local supermarket, in my wheelchair, accompanied by my assistance dog. Just as we were leaving the till, some idiot (who was more concerned with their mobile phone than their direction of travel) cut in front of me and stopped, leaving me no choice but to sharply cut my chair to the right to avoid hitting said moron.
Accordingly, my dog had to jump out of the way. She is trained to do this, and my command, ‘Move!’ helped her anticipate that my chair was coming her way. My chair made no contact with either the idiot or my dog; she was fine. I rewarded her with praise, and we started through the queue out of the shop. It’s not the first time we have had to avoid such clueless obstacles.
This is when ‘Mr. Kindness’ started to loudly berate me for ‘abusing’ my dog by ‘running over her,’ saying I hurt her, and that she was ‘clearly’ in distress.
I tried to just ignore him, but he was yelling loudly, ‘People like you shouldn’t have animals. You shouldn’t bring them into stores. You should realize that it’s cruelty to make them work!’
Then he was yelling to other people, ‘That woman is a dog-beater.’
My dog was there with her ears up, tail wagging, happily following right beside my chair and clearly oblivious to whatever great harm Mr. Kindness was protesting had befallen her.
Mr. Kindness pushed past people to get to me and shoved me and my dog, who was as placid as can be. But she put herself between me and him. She would not ever be aggressive, but she does (without being trained to do so) decide that she should be between someone she thinks will harm me.
He took a step back, giving me room to get past. I tried to just get out of the store and to the car, and he just kept yelling evil things. Thankfully security stopped him from following me out to the car. I felt frightened and humiliated.
I get that some people don’t understand what assistance dogs do, how well they are treated, how much they love their work, or especially in what exceptional regard they are held by their handlers. What I don’t understand is how someone can justify being so unkind and cruel to someone about whom they know nothing but assumptions. How somehow my dog needed to move out of the way (as she is trained to do, and did impeccably) because some idiot wasn’t paying attention was worse than screaming at and harassing another human being. Being disabled, I should be used to it I guess but that doesn’t make it easier.”
Customers Vs Karen
“My daughter who is on the spectrum and nonverbal at the time was about four and with me at a craft store in Florida. She’d been really sick and home from her early intervention school program for some time. Sick, cranky, and really bored, I decided to take her to the craft store to get some supplies to help cheer her up but I was on a limited budget.
So as everyone can imagine trying to get through a craft store with a 4-year-old where everything is sparkly and glittery is a challenge but doing it with a child on the spectrum will magnify that by about a hundred and buy a lot of patience and humor to go with it.
We finally make it to the checkout aisle but not before my daughter had seen a very expensive and large teddy bear hanging in one of the aisles. A $50 teddy bear. I told her I was sorry but no and she of course cried but then she started to really cry and hold her throat. I realized she was crying because her crying was making her throat hurt worse. Then it was making her cough worse. Ugh! So I was trying to soothe her and get her to calm down in the line waiting to pay and check out with my cart stuffed with craft goodies for her.
A woman from a few lanes over yelled at me, ‘Why don’t you just slap that brat and shut her up.’
I was in shock. Everyone around me froze. I looked at her sure I heard her wrong and said, ‘What did you just say?’
Nope, she had the stupidity to repeat herself again even louder and with more hate on her face.
I said, ‘She’s autistic and sick! What’s your excuse?’
I know had my daughter not been in front of me needing me I would have been in that woman’s face or worse but other women behind me and even the cashier started to tell the woman to mind her own business and that she could just leave the store. The cashier apologized to me, by that point I was shaking, I suppose on a good note my daughter was in shock and stopped crying.
After the woman got her things rung up, she walked passed me and told me, ‘I should have charges pressed against you for child abuse.’
Another woman told her she better run to her car before she got out of the store. People were saying she was insane.
I was just stumped, speechless, baffled. I kept trying to make sense of it the whole drive home. Trying to see if I could have done something differently to have avoided that whole situation. I mean it takes two people to create a scenario. No one person is ever 100 percent responsible for any situation. This one still leaves me scratching my head though.
I can see how she probably perceived it. A spoiled child crying, mom with a cart full of stuff for a spoiled child still buying stuff for the spoiled child and this was back around 2002 when autism was still relatively just becoming known amongst society. I had a lot more confrontations with people back then over my daughter’s behaviors in stores whereas nowadays blissfully no one bats an eye.”
“You Old People Always Complain About Young People Being Disrespectful. But What YOU Just Said Wasn’t Any Better!”
“My best friend and I bought some snacks in a shop, paid, and sat down on a bench right in front of that shop.
My best friend was very on the bigger side at the time and struggled with some bullying, though it never happened in front of me. She always told me that random strangers laughed about her and called her names wherever she goes and that this was the reason why she hated to leave her house. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her, but I thought she might take unmeaningful things too much to heart or interpret them wrongly since I’d never seen anybody even paying attention to her when I was with her. She insisted that it only happens when she was alone and she was sick of not having proof to show me.
But on that fateful day, I saw it live and in action.
So we sat on that bench, a bit apart from each other, I was looking at my phone and one could easily mistake us as two people just randomly sitting on the same bench without knowing each other.
Then, an old woman came out of the shop with her shopping cart, looked in our direction, stopped, and walked over. She approached my friend, completely ignoring me, probably thinking, ‘I’m just some dude.’
She tapped her on the shoulder and had the most superficial and fake-friendy smile I have ever seen on someone’s face other than on a fishy car salesman.
‘Excuse me, but how old are you?’ The old woman asked.
My friend looked confused and said, ‘I’m 20?’
‘And you still sit like that?’, she said. ‘This is not good manners.’
My friend and I both looked confused. We sat on that bench in the exact same way. We had one leg up on the bench, while the other leg stayed on the ground. Yet, she completely ignored me, speaking only to her.
My friend apologized and put her leg down. I did the same.
Then the old lady added, smiling sarcastically, ‘But I get it! I mean what else can you do? I bet it’s hard for you.’ She turned around, intending to walk back to her shopping cart.
I thought there was something wrong with my ears. I gasped and said, ‘Did you just REALLY say that?’
She turned around looking confused, not expecting me to get involved.
‘I understand you may dislike the way she sat, but what incredibly rude remark was THIS!?’ I said.
She shrugged, ‘Well, sitting like that is without manners.’
‘But I was sitting right next to her in the exact same way. Yet you didn’t speak to us, you only spoke to her! Makes me wonder if you only approached her to comment on her body!’ I exclaimed.
She looked trapped and overwhelmed with being confronted about it. She said, ‘Oh really? Ah, I didn’t see you were sitting in the same way.’ That phony smile again. That annoying I-try-to-hide-my-bad-intentions-by-looking-overly-friendly- smile.
I was furious, so I said, ‘That was an utterly rude and unnecessary comment!’
‘I know it wasn’t nice to say that. But sitting like that isn’t nice either!’ she said before she turned around, walking over to her shopping cart and acting like she was looking for something in her bag, visibly embarrassed by the situation.
I bit my lip, I had to really keep myself back from causing a serious scene. Then I got up and walked over.
I said very loudly and clearly, ‘I think it’s ABSOLUTELY disgusting what you just did! Bullying this woman in such a freakin’ shameless way! You old people always complain about young people being disrespectful. But what YOU just said wasn’t any better! I hope you feel UTTERLY embarrassed by YOUR manners!!’
I walked away, the woman completely ignoring me and acting like it was none of her business. Some people gave her a look. I apologized to my friend afterward because I had never fully believed her. She said it was okay. She was more grateful and astonished that I actually stood up for her.
And I would again. Always.”
“Just Another Waste Of My Tax Dollars.”
“While checking out, I was using WIC to pay for some of my groceries. This was when it was paper checks. The older lady behind me was huffing and puffing in annoyance. I was trying to remain calm as I had my two small children with me and was pregnant with my third. She was grumbling and mumbling under her breath and I was just trying to smile so my kids didn’t see how upset I was getting.
Finally, she looked at me and said, ‘I hate women like you who have kids and can’t afford them. Probably have three baby daddies too and none of them provide for your brats. Just another waste of my tax dollars.’
My heart was racing. I had tears in my eyes.
But I took a deep breath, looked at her, and said, ‘My children all have the same father. We are married. He’s active duty Navy.’
The cashier smiled, I broke down, and a mom across from me came to give me a hug. They all said I was doing great and thanked my husband for his service.
Then the cashier looked at the rude lady, smiled, turned off her light, and said, ‘Sorry this lane is now closed. I’m going on break.’
She then made the woman wait in the only open line that has five people in front of her.
BTW, to this day this cashier and I are friends. 9 years after this all happened. Now she is a manager at the store and when she sees my babies she always gives them free cookies. I choose to believe the good in this world outweighs the evil.”
“There was a very nice older lady I used to see in the grocery store every time I shopped. She always spoke to me. Occasionally she would ask for help reaching something up on a top-shelf. Finally, I stopped her one time and asked her name. She was Nancy, the same name as my grandmother. We chatted, and after that, I made a point of shopping when I knew she would be there. She was about 85, about 4′11″. My grandmother was 4′10″. She walked slowly. We talked and shopped. She brought me recipes and tips. It was a lot of fun. I missed my grandmother so it was just a good feeling.
One day, there was this young woman in her 20s. You know that ‘look’ some people have that just makes you dislike them instantly. That was her. She rushed up behind everyone, saying that rude-toned ‘Excuse Me!’
She came up behind Nancy and me, and we were kind of blocking the aisle.
She loudly said, ‘Do you mind getting your grandmother out of the way? I’m in a hurry.’
Without missing a beat, Nancy said, ‘I’m not his grandmother. I’m his girlfriend. So, you hold your panties and I’ll be out of your fast girl way.’
The girl just huffed. I grinned from ear to ear until she was gone and then died laughing. Nancy blushed a bright red, tried to apologize. We laughed about that for days.
It was only a few weeks later that her daughter called me, telling me Nancy had passed peacefully in her sleep. I went to the funeral and was very happy to hear that the whole family knew about our shopping trips. Her kids told me how much she enjoyed our shopping trips and the times we had talked on the phone. Both of her children were out of state but visited frequently. But, they were all grateful for her young boyfriend and I was grateful for spending time with my other grandmother.”
“I’M HALF PUERTO RICAN!”
“While in line at my local, I don’t want to say the name of the store, let’s just say it rhymes with ‘BALDI.’ So I was in the checkout line and I recognized the guy in front of me. We hadn’t seen each other in 15–20 years.
We were catching up and he asked, ‘Did you just come back from vacation?’
I said, ‘No. Why?’
He said, ‘You look pretty tan’
I said, ‘I’ve been doing a lot of landscaping and yard work. It must be my inner Puerto Rican coming out.’
Then from behind me, I heard, ‘That offensive.’
Me: ‘Excuse me?’
Lady: ‘What you said. That’s offensive.’
Me: ‘What did I say?’
Lady: ‘What you said makes it sound like you think the only job Puerto Ricans can do is landscaping or yard work. That’s offensive.’
Me: ‘No, what I said, and what the two people IN the conversation understood was, my tan is coming out because I’M HALF PUERTO RICAN! (and Filipino). You’re the one who made it offensive.’
The lady just stared at me.
Me: ‘You know what? You’d have a lot better day if you stopped walking around looking for things to get offended by!’
The lady then stepped out of line and moved to another line
It was dead quiet for about four or five seconds within about twenty feet of me.
I turned back to my friend and he said, ‘Man, you haven’t changed at all,’ and we laughed.
An older woman (mid to late ’70s) who was behind the lady, stepped up to me.
I said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to use that kind of language in front of you.’
She said, ‘It’s okay, a young man (I’m 50). You handled that very well.’
I said, ‘Thanks.’
It’s too bad I was so shocked at the moment. Because after it was over and done, that’s when I thought of the things I could’ve said. Like this: ‘You know what I find offensive? Having to see your dirty feet in those ugly Birkenstock sandals, while I’m grocery shopping. While picking out lettuce, no one wants to see feet that looked like they just stomped out a campfire in California and then walked to Connecticut!'”
“I was standing in a long line at the checkout at a crowded store one day—not enough people working, half the self-serve counters weren’t working, people were exasperated, tempers wearing thin—you know the drill.
Directly in front of me was a young mother with a toddler, a bored toddler and anyone who has ever been around toddlers knows what a recipe for disaster that can be. This toddler would pull his legs out of the leg holes in the cart and stand up in the seat, while all of us held our breath hoping he wouldn’t fall. The floor may have been only four feet away, but when you’re only two feet tall, that’s still a significant distance to a hard concrete end. But the mother was always immediately right there telling him to sit down. Without argument or tears, he would obey and sit right back down.
Then you could almost see the vibrations begin. He could not sit still for long and up he would pop again. The mother never lost her patience, she would tell him to sit, he would sit, boredom would ensue, and up he would pop yet again. This must have happened five or six times. Mom never started to cry or yell or demonstrate exasperation in any way. The little boy didn’t cry or yell and would sit back down every time she would tell him to.
They both had my complete and total sympathy. Having raised four kids myself, three of them active little boys who did not care for sitting still I knew that standing in a long line at the checkout was one of the miseries of life for everyone involved.
Behind me in the line was an elderly man. His patience was not the patience of the mother.
He spoke out, loudly enough for us all to hear, ‘When I was raising my children, they would have gotten a spanking for such disobedience. Parents nowadays let their kids get away with anything.’
I saw the mother’s face get red with embarrassment.
I’m normally a polite person. I avoid disagreements with strangers. I mostly avoid conversations of any kind with strangers. Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut, but this time, the feisty in me rose to the surface. I couldn’t help it, really. I turned around and spoke to the man.
‘He isn’t disobeying. Every time she tells him to sit, he sits. His mother is being extremely patient and kind and understanding of how difficult this is for him. The mother is handling him well, and the little boy is doing the best he can in the circumstances,’ I said.
The old man responded, ‘Well I raised four kids and spanked every one of them. My kids knew to obey me when I told them something.’
It was no doubt rude and downright mean of me, and I should probably be ashamed for saying it, but in return, I asked, ‘Do any of them still speak to you?’
He didn’t answer. He just glared at me.
Being a young parent is hard enough without know-it-alls making comments like that. The mother smiled at me. The old man never said another word.
We all quietly got through the checkout and went our separate ways.”
“My youngest was born with brain cancer. While she was undergoing chemo, one day I had to go to the local grocery store for some food. An older lady and her grandchild chided me for taking such an obviously sick infant shopping with me.
‘My grandchild could get very sick through exposure by standing in this checkout line from your baby! What kind of irresponsible mother are you? Didn’t you think about the rest of us when you decided to bring her? You should have kept her at home until she is not sick and not contagious!’ She yelled.
I quietly replied ‘You don’t have to worry about getting sick from my baby. I can’t wait until she is well because she has brain cancer, and we need food at home to eat. If I could have left her at home I would have. There is no one at home to watch her right now, so….here we are.’
We finished checking out and I cried the whole 20-minute drive home.”
“It wasn’t really what she SAID, just her terrible attitude in general. It was October or November 1995. My little brother was about two and a half months old. I, my older brother, my baby brother, and my mom had just gone to the mall to get pictures taken with Santa, and stopped at K-Mart on the way out to buy Christmas decorations. (As you can see, this was eons ago; that mall and K-Mart, which was inside the mall, no longer exist).
After we were done shopping, we were waiting in line, which surprisingly wasn’t too long, but my little brother started to get hungry and fussy. I tried to hold him and calm him down but he wasn’t having it so I handed him to my mom. He chilled out a little bit but was still kind of fussy.
It was around the time that I did the handoff with the baby to my mom that we both noticed that the older lady in front of us (she was probably in her late 70’s) was getting very irate; rolling her eyes, sighing heavily, and giving us dirty looks.
My mom told us later that she even muttered a comment or two under her breath about how we should ‘Get that baby to be quiet.’
I myself didn’t hear her say that. I was only 15 at the time but I can promise that had I heard that comment for myself, I would have surely made a scene. So thank goodness for small miracles.
It turned out my mom knew how to handle herself though so she didn’t need my help after all. She turned to the lady and said, clear as day and right to her face, ‘Listen, lady, why don’t you turn your hearing aid down if the crying bothers you so much!’
The look on that old bat’s face was enough to make even the most solemn person fall over in laughter. I almost died and have no idea how I kept a straight face but I did right up until the lady paid for her stuff and left.
My younger brother is 26 now and I’ve told him this story. He thinks it’s absolutely hilarious. When I found out he was expecting a child (due in September) I told him to never take anyone’s nonsense when his baby gets fussy in public!”