Women are Just Taller Girls, Right?

Christmas had me at a loss this year. Money is tight and shopping is hard with a toddler in tow and there was so much going on in the last few months that gifting wasn’t so high on my list of priorities. But I did get a pretty sweet discount offer on my Target Cartwheel app! For a Fitbit! And that’s a gadget, right, so maybe my husband would be into it.

But knowing nothing about Fitbits, I thought I best check it out first. So one day, kidless, I spent some time in the electronics department reading all the Fitbit signage and trying to figure out if this whoosie was even worth my 40% discount. Turns out, no, no it was not. But that’s not the point of this story.

I asked the salesman if he could help me and pointed to the locked Fitbits over yonder. Dude was tall and skinny, probably in his early 20s and definitely thought of himself as smarter than your average bear. He says, “Let me guess, you want the pink one?”

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I’m a small woman. I am often mistaken for being younger than I am. But I’m not seven, and I’m not wearing unicorn barrettes in my pigtails, so WHO do you think you’re talking to? I’m not usually one to engage with idiots, especially those who are strangers–I generally prefer to walk away and spend my energy more wisely–but it was so out of left field. Like, here’s an adult woman customer asking for assistance in electronics and the first thing out of your mouth is an antiquated assumption of preference based on color because women are incapable of judging products on any other factor?¬†Or was it a sexist assertion of dominance over the little lady? Or was it a passive aggressive dig at a stupid customer because retail is just such very hard work?

Either way, no. No, I am not having that. No, that is not appropriate customer service. Just no, sir. No.

So I scrunched up my little eyebrows, cocked my head and said, “Why would you say that? Why would you assume I want pink?” and let him stumble over his tongue for a while trying to apologize or back-peddle or do whatever he needed to do to complete the sale.

After that, we actually had a very productive conversation, comparing models and features until I ultimately decided that my husband would probably prefer to decide on his own features (and that he’d want more than I could pay for). I thanked him for his time and his helpful advice and he actually looked me in the eye and apologized sincerely for the pink remark.

Maybe that dude was a jackass. Maybe he was having a bad day. But I was happy that I didn’t let it go. And I was happy that I didn’t lose my temper and badmouth him. Instead, I forced him to see me as a person and recognize his own mistake. I think it was an important lesson for both of us.

Challenging assumptions is one of those thingies on my list of “things to get better at.”

Woman, I Am Not Your Ally

It was whiny kid day at Target and I had sent mine off with his father to look for a present for his cousin’s birthday while I perused the clearance rack for some new summer duds. Yes, I heard the boy in the red wagon crying a few aisles over and yes, it was annoying, mostly because it was that “I’m not getting my way” cry I’ve been hearing so much of myself since my son hit toddlerhood. But it wasn’t my kid and it wasn’t my problem, so I ignored it the best I could.

That’s when Nosy McKnowBetter joined me and mumbled discontentedly in my direction. “Better take care of that kid,” she said, turning her head toward me. I ignored her. “Ugh, tired of ignorant people,” she mumbled a little louder. I moved on to the next rack.

Now I’m a hardcore, people-avoiding introvert who only engages with strangers when I feel the outcome is almost definitely positive. I respond to people who say, “Good morning,” and “How are you today,” and “Beautiful day!” I absolutely do not engage people who begin conversations with negative statements, even if I agree with them.

In this case, I did not agree. The child was whining because he wasn’t getting his way. Nothing bad was happening. Every once in a while, the boy’s mother would say, “No, you cannot get out. You need to stay where I can see you in your wagon.”

Even so, Ms. McKnowBetter’s grumbling got louder as she addressed me directly. “I’m so sick of these people having kids if they’re not going to care for them.”

Whoa. First of all, “these people”? Do you mean people with skin tones darker than yours or people with accents different than yours because either way, I am not on the “us” side of your “them vs. us” bigotry. Secondly, the woman was very clearly communicating in a firm but not unloving way that her intention was to keep the boy safe. Other than annoying incessant child whining, what was the actual problem here?

The problem is busybodies. It’s overly concerned strangers reacting out of context. It’s neighbors calling the cops on parents who let their children play outside or walk to school. It’s the goddamn parenting police who want you to know that you are one phone call away from losing your children if you don’t keep them under control at all times. And bigots, of course. Because even if the child is behaving appropriately, America can’t be great again until all of “them” leave.

Again, I walked away because no. No, I am not your ally. No, I will not engage in berating the parenting skills of a competent mother. No.

Apparently, she didn’t need my approval. She approached the woman and her child anyway, made a big ole scene about how she was NEGLECTFUL and ABUSIVE and the AUTHORITIES WILL BE CALLED.

The woman, goddess bless her fiery soul, shouted right back at her, “How is this any of your business? My son is whining because he’s not getting what he wants. What, have you never been around kids before? You don’t even KNOW me, you don’t know my son, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And ain’t that a universal truth?

I would very much like to take a poll of the people who comment on the parenting skills of others, especially the ones complaining about normal child behavior. Question 1: Do you know what a child is? Question 2: Were you ever a child yourself? Question 3: What kind of idiot are you exactly?

I don’t know what happened next because I stayed the hellfire away from those shenanigans but I did hear the mother in question talking to her friend as they walked away. “Who does she think she is, coming up to a stranger and saying I abuse my kid because I won’t let him run around the store? You know she’d be complaining even more if I did. Stupid people. You just can’t win, no matter what you do.”

Amen, sister.

 

 

 

Buried in Kipple and Target’s to Blame

I have been totally under Target’s thrall since the moment I stepped foot in my first back in 2002 but once I got pregnant, maaaaan, there was no stopping me. And the crap I bought when I first started bringing my son, kicking his little legs in the cart, just became more plentiful when he decided to obsess about Star Wars.

TODAY, however, I bought nothing for my son. I gave him things to look at and play with and then put them back on the shelf and said goodbye as we rolled away. My mission was cat food and hand soap and I am proud to say that I completed that mission… and a couple of V-neck t-shirts on clearance (it’s my mom uniform of choice) and maaaybe a frozen pizza for lunch. But that’s it. I put back the Ninja Turtle bubble bath, the generic non-Nerf football rocket, the $7 Star Wars greeting card and the As Seen On TV veggie spinner that makes noodles out of zucchini. BACK ON THE SHELF WITH YE!

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I also rolled right past Starbucks. My Self-Control game is strong today.