It’s safe to say, the elderly have a lot of life experience under their belt. Although during different times, they share a lot of similar general life experiences we go through and therefore can provide some good advice when it comes to getting through life. Can they help you set up your new iPhone? Probably not. But can they offer some helpful, simple advice when you’re experiencing relationship issues? Absolutely.
The problem is, somewhere along the line, someone told an elderly person they give good advice and they shared the compliment with every single other elderly person on the planet. Who then spread the compliment with every person the moment they hit retirement age. Now they won’t stop giving advice whether it’s asked for or not and most of the time, it is absolutely not asked for.
Our friend, “Courtney,” knows this all too well. Like all young mothers, Courtney had to deal with an upset baby in public. Unfortunately, as she quickly learned, an upset baby attracted advice from the elderly like nothing she had ever seen before. If there’s one thing the elderly absolutely should not be giving advice on, it’s raising a baby. They used to give babies small amounts of “adult beverages” to “help” them fall asleep at night, they are probably the least qualified to give child care advice.
If only someone had explained this to an employee at a grocery store Courtney frequented with her newborn son.
“You Need To Feed Your Son!”
Courtney’s son had terrible colic, meaning he would “scream and cry for hours on end.” As a result, she could only leave the house for short periods of time because he was essentially a ticking time bomb. Once he got going, it was nearly impossible to get any errands accomplished without disturbing the peace of every single person around her.
As if dealing with a screaming and crying newborn wasn’t bad enough, this attracted all kinds of unsolicited parenting advice from other shoppers, mostly elderly women. All of the comments got on Courtney’s nerves.
They were mostly just generic parenting advice such as, “He probably has a full diaper,” or, “Wow, someone needs a nap!”
Courtney would always think to herself, “Do you really believe I didn’t consider whether or not his diaper was full or he needed a nap,” then respond with a fake smile and kind words like, “You know how kids can be!”
One comment drove Courtney crazier than anything, “You need to feed your son!”
This got Courtney’s internal dialogue all fired up, “Really? Do you think it never occurred to me my kid might be hungry? No wonder he’s screaming and crying in the middle of the store! Wow, I never thought of that one,” followed by more fake smiles and verbal pleasantries.
Eventually, these comments on top of her son’s screaming and crying got to be too much for Courtney. She would rarely go out during the day when her husband wasn’t available to watch their son and developed some pretty intense cabin fever. One of the few outings she regularly got to experience was to a grocery store about five minutes from her house.
It was small enough to where she could get all of her shopping done quickly and not as busy so if her son was in a fussy mood, he wouldn’t be wreaking havoc on the eardrums of the other shoppers. It would have been completely perfect if it weren’t for the woman who worked the deli counter.
“Why Not Just Avoid The Deli Counter?”
Every single time, without fail, if Courtney’s son was upset when she walked into the store, the elderly woman at the deli counter, “Susie,” would shout, “You need to feed him!”
Not only was having a screaming and crying baby embarrassing but having an employee literally shouting at Courtney as if she was a bad parent made things even worse.
I know what you’re thinking, “Why not just avoid the deli counter?”
As it was a small grocery store, the deli counter was located right by the entrance and there was only one entrance to the store.
Every single time Courtney walked into the store with her upset son, without fail, she would hear Susie in a “sing-songy-judgy voice” say, “I think he’s hungry,” or “you need to feed him.”
Courtney knew for a fact he wasn’t hungry. She would literally feed him right before going to the store as it was one of the few things that delayed his colicky episodes. She even tried to explain the situation to Susie one time and clarify her son was not hungry, just experiencing colic.
Courtney might as well have said nothing.
Speaking to Susie as if she was a rational human being did nothing. It was never about whether or not her son was actually eating enough. It was about Susie having someone to look down on.
Susie just “assumed she didn’t know what she was talking about and continued the harassment.”
Consequently, Courtney quit getting out and going to the store as often. Her one safe haven to get out of the house had almost entirely been ruined by Susie.
On the rare occasions Courtney would get out with her son and go to the store, her mindset was “Oh great, I get to be parent-shamed by Susie again,” rather than being able to embrace getting out of the house.
Instead of even trying to justify why her son was upset, Courtney would just scowl at Susie when she heard the fateful words, “You need to feed him,” sing out of her judgy mouth.
“She either really thinks she’s doing me a favor or she’s having so much fun judging me she doesn’t even care,” Courtney thought to herself as Susie didn’t falter in the slightest at the sight of her scowl. If anything, the scowling only made Susie feel better about her shaming.
Courtney genuinely found this impressive as she had a “RBF that will make grown men run in fear.”
She finished the rest of her grocery shopping as usual, feeling like she had a sign saying “Bad Parent” floating over her head as a result of Susie’s jeers from the deli counter. In reality, no one thought Courtney was a bad parent but herself. However, it doesn’t matter when someone made her feel as singled out as Susie did.
Courtney left the store thinking, “If my scowl isn’t going to shut her down nothing will.”
Little did she know, her next trip to the store was going to produce entirely different results.
A Long Time Coming
One day, Courtney had to run to the store and couldn’t wait for her husband to get home to do so. Which meant she was taking their son and she was inevitably going to get parent-shamed by Susie. She had successfully avoided going to the store with her son for a few weeks since she realized her scowling didn’t work. To her dismay, it wasn’t going to be possible today.
After she arrived at the store, Courtney sat out in the parking lot “psyching herself up for the usual gauntlet she had to run to get past the main entrance.”
Courtney thought to herself, “Why did it have to be today of all days?”
Her son had been up all night crying and she had barely slept.
As soon as Courtney walked in the store, she heard the fateful question, “Did you feed your son today,” from Susie at the deli counter.
However, this time was different from the others. Without skipping a beat, Courtney shouted back, “Will you please stop!”
She couldn’t even believe the words had come out of her mouth. If it hadn’t been for Susie’s dropped jaw, Courtney wouldn’t have believed the words actually came out of her mouth.
As Courtney turned away from the deli counter, she recognized one of the managers standing in the produce section. He was looking at both of them with a surprised expression on his face.
“Completely embarrassed,” Courtney “put her head down and scurried away, convinced she could never shop at the store again.”
As she was leaving the store, the same manager approached her. Courtney thought he was going to ban her for life but to her surprise, he handed her a gift card to the store. He said he appreciated her business, and told her he wanted her to always be comfortable in his store.
Despite the shame she felt for making a scene, Courtney thought she had felt a weight lifted off of her shoulders after she had snapped at Susie. She couldn’t help but feel validated by what the manager had done. Courtney finally stuck up for herself and it felt good.
The next time Courtney went into the store with her son, she still expected to be heckled by Susie. To her surprise, she only saw Susie glaring at her from behind the deli counter without speaking a word.
“Courtney became a very loyal customer to the store after that.”
Thoughts From The Author
As someone who would rather scowl than make a scene, I can completely identify with Courtney’s initial approach to Susie’s heckling. In a perfect world, Susie just wouldn’t harass Courtney and she could have shopped without having to feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this isn’t the world we live in. Some people feel like they have to interject themselves into the lives of others whether it’s wanted or not. In those moments, you have to stick up for yourself regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you.
With that being said, Courtney did everything she needed to. The person who deserves all of our shaming is Susie. I can picture the smug smile and tone of Susie right now. She absolutely did not mean well by her comments to Courtney. She just wanted to tell Courtney, “I know more about parenting than you do,” every single time she was in the store. People like Susie are the absolute worst. They use other people’s struggles to feel better about themselves and Susie just took it a step further by adding onto Courtney’s stress.
Speaking of the grocery store employees, what took the manager so long to shut down Susie? Do you actually mean to tell me Courtney was the only customer Susie harassed? There’s absolutely zero chance he saw his deli counter employee shouting to customers daily and thought, “This is fine, they definitely enjoy this shopping experience.” Either he’s completely out of touch or he was in full blown denial. Regardless, maybe step in before a customer has to yell at one of your employees for a completely justifiable reason.