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  • If Mother Teresa Had Shopped At Walmart, She’d Just Be Teresa

    September 30, 2011

    I love the Mother Teresa quote which says, “I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

    I would like to be like Mother Teresa, to be able to say that my life is a love letter to the world, but some days, I’m afraid my life looks less like a love letter and more like graffiti.

    The other day I went to Walmart to pick up just a few things, and is always the case, when I walked into the store there was no one in the checkout lanes.  The lanes were so empty you coulda gone bowling.  The cashiers were standing in the main aisle chatting and looking around hopefully for someone to checkout.  Ten minutes later, when I had gathered my few things and headed towards the lanes, they were backed up, three deep.

    But that did not matter, for I was in a love-letter-writing-to-the-world mood.  I stood in line behind a lady who was apparently stocking up for the apocalypse.  But what did I care? I was all love, peace, patience, kindness, yada yada —  I was busy browsing the September issue of Good Housekeeping (the one with Meredith Vieira on the front; I’m featured somewhere around page 150, in case you care).

    Now let me pause here and say that someday I am going to write an entire series on grocery store etiquette, but for now, I will just tell you that at the top of the list of grocery store do’s and don’t is this:  Don’t crowd the person checking out.  They own that space until they have been cleared for takeoff and pushed away from the checkout tarmac, so BACK OFF.  I hate it when I am not even done loading my stuff on the conveyor and the person behind me starts putting their stuff on.  It makes life complicated.  As well, don’t stand right beside me when I am paying.  You are not welcome in my space at that time, so please, step off.

    So since the lady in front of me was the current owner of the conveyor, I politely left a reasonable 12-18 inches between the end of the conveyor and me.

    As I was standing there, flipping through the pages of Good Housekeeping, I sensed a cart was very close to my backside.  Apparently my backside has some sort of extra sensory perception, my backside has ESP.  So I turned and looked and sure enough, there was a cart there, with only a whisper of airspace between my Hanes yoga pants and this cart.  But again, I was feeling the Mother Teresa vibe, so I didn’t turn and shout, “BACK OFF BUSTER!”  I just kept reading.

    And then I heard this very large middle-aged man behind me grumbling loudly. “You are a complete idiot!”  I turned again, anxious to find out to whom he was directing his ire and boy was I surprised when I found out it was ME.  And my first thought was this:  I am glad my kid is not here.  My second thought was this:  Wha?

    He continued his tirade against me, describing me in inventive and colorful terms.  That was a day brightener.

    I finally figured out that what I had done to upset him so was that I had not moved forward 18-inches and sidled up next to Apocalypse Lady to watch her write her check.  He was upset because he had to stand at the end of the aisle and not next to the gum rack.

    I was stunned.  In my years of shopping at Walmart, I’ve encountered the occasional less than pleasant electric cart lady, but never has anyone behaved so aggressively towards me.   So in an effort to smooth his ruffled feathers, I said to him, “I’m really not trying to upset you, I just want to give the lady ahead of me her space.”  But he didn’t care to hear my thoughts and provided an exhaustive description of the content of my character.

    And frankly, I didn’t know what to do.  I felt like opening up a can of Antique Mommy whoop bottom on him. I felt angry. I felt intimidated. I felt scared. I felt like crying. But at no time did I feel like writing a love letter with God’s little pencil.

    So I just turned away and ignored him as best I could and tried to convince myself I wasn’t terrified.

    When it was my turn to checkout, I put my few things on the conveyor, anxious to get checked out and get gone.  I had picked up a water bottle for Sean that did not have a price on it, and for a split second, I was tempted to insist on a price check, just to gig him. But I didn’t.  The urge to flee trumped the urge to gig.  So I told the cashier I didn’t really need it and I would get it another time.  That was as love-lettery as I could muster.

    As I left the store, anger began to overtake fear, so I stopped by the manager’s station and told her what had happened and pointed him out.   And then I high tailed it out of there, anxious to get home and get some sympathy from Antique Daddy.

    As luck would have it, when I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the lane that passes in front of the store, Mr. Asshat was coming out.  And he notices me in spite of my clever disguise of sunglasses.   He stops in the middle of the of lane with his cart and blocks my car.   He bares his teeth at me, like some kind of animal, and then punctuates his point with his middle finger.  Wow. What an awesome display of manhood. His mother must be so proud.

    So then I did what I’m sure Mother Teresa would have done.  I stuck my tongue out at him.  And then I sped home taking a circuitous route.

    Yes indeed, Mother Teresa’s life was an inspirational love letter to the world. Then again, Mother Teresa didn’t shop at Walmart.

    32 Comments »

    1. Kate says:

      Sounds very unpleasant indeed. I’m confused though. You left 12-18 inches between the END of the conveyor belt and yourself? Or 12-18 inches between the lady ahead of you and yourself? I certainly leave space, but I don’t wait until the transaction ahead of me is done before getting to the end of the belt. I leave that amount of space between me and the person ahead of me regardless of where it puts me. In other words, when the person ahead is paying, I am at least at the middle of the belt, if not a touch forward.

      What did management say when you spoke with them?

      Now tell us about GH! Why are you featured? How exciting! Glad to see you posting again!

      * * *
      I don’t like people standing within eye-shot of me when I’m completing a financial transaction, so as a courtesy, I don’t do that to others. I don’t see the point. It’s sort of like speeding up to wait at a red light.

      September 30th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    2. aggiema (Michelle) says:

      Oh My Word! First off, I am glad he only shot you the bird and did not shoot you for real. What a nutcase! You handled it better than I probably would have. Smudge spot on the asphalt comes to mind. Alas….this is why I do not shop at Wal-Mart! Okay, this is one of many reasons I do not shop at WM! After years of getting ticked off every single time I went into WM, I finally decided that my happiness was more important than any few pennies I might be saving. I am a Target girl now…they have a few quirks and weirdos of their own but generally I am still a happy person when I leave!

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:05 am

    3. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      And that is why I shop at Target. The end.

      In all honesty, I wonder what Mother Teresa would have done? Because I don’t think she was a doormat; just a lover of Jesus. I’m not saying you should have returned his middle finger salute. But that guy was being a first class jerk. What’s the loving response?

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:05 am

    4. Marie says:

      How dare he! Was he buying booze? It sounds like he’s not “quite right…” which does not give him an excuse to treat you that way, but maybe that’s the explanation.

      I find shopping at Walmart to be stressful more often than not. Too many of the not-quite-rights shop there… hate to say it, but it’s true.

      ps — now I’m excited to see Good Housekeeping!

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    5. Antique Mommy says:

      I usually find WM amusing. I’ve had very few bad experiences. There is a Target directly behind our WM and sometimes I shop there but I don’t find it to be remarkably better. Upper class white women on their cell phones are not nearly as amusing.

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    6. Jackie Hall says:

      Mother Teresa would have been out the window in a flash. You are a Saint in deed sticking out your tongue or not. 😉

      I’m ticked off just thinking about it! What did AD say about it?

      I’m glad your little man wasn’t there either.

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    7. Jackie Hall says:

      BTW Congratulations on the GH article. I will go look for it. 🙂

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    8. Elaine says:

      … and reason number 100 I don’t shop at Walmart!!! I am so sorry that happened but I can say you handled it with a lot more grace than I could have!

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:53 am

    9. Lucia says:

      Wow! I’m so sorry someone as sweet as you had to go through that. I applaud you for keeping your cool under extreme circumstances! I’ve heard of questionalble characters shopping at Walmart but this is uncalled for! Why is this?? However, it’s always good to be aware of our surroundings for disgruntled customers and potential terrorists alike and to keep our guards up. You never know how much of a positve ripple effect a small kindness or in your case not pouncing on him for his rudeness/crazed behavior may have averted him to an even bigger act of insanity.

      September 30th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    10. momma mindy says:

      This is why the great job you’re doing as a mother is SO important. Your son will grow up loved and supported and will not need to be aggressive towards random, unoffending women.

      Some people are so miserable in life they have to make happy people miserable to be miserably happy in their own way.

      I LOVED your reaction. Enough to let off a little steam, let someone know you’re not going to let them hound you and enough to help you be able to laugh when you recall the situation.

      September 30th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    11. Shirley says:

      I remember Mother Teresa not wanting anyone to die alone on the street. I’m sure she would have held his head and wondered how the tread marks ended up on his chest. Just kidding!

      * * *
      Hahaha! That was funny!

      September 30th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    12. vivian says:

      Thank God it is over but also pray that his family and co-workers are not being abused. He sounds mental and mean as a junk-yard dog. Glad you are okay, but he sure made a fool of himself! Let’s say a short prayer for others that he meets!

      September 30th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    13. Pam says:

      So sorry you had to endure this. Thanks for sharing it, I’m sure it will help anyone else who goes through something similar.

      And Shirley’s comment made me laugh out loud! Thanks.

      September 30th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    14. Allison B says:

      That is insane. I was in traffic this week and actually stopped at a light while it was turning yellow…the audacity! Anyway, the man behind me slammed on his brakes (totally not necessary, the speed limit is like 15 mph), swerved around me, and then did a crazy u turn at the next intersection. Funny thing is that I actually passed him at the next intersection – I just waved and smiled.

      September 30th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    15. heidig says:

      Look at you with a feature in Good Housekeeping! I’m out the door to get my copy – congrats!! Oh, and sorry about the Walmart thing. Some people need a refresher in Manners 101. I almost feel sorry for people like that.

      September 30th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    16. Claire says:

      i know exactly what you mean. i deal with such rude people in Los Angeles. i just keep my cool, especially about such small things. it shows love by having patience for little things and keeping my cool while they’re idiots. they always feel like an idiot at the end as they should and all ends well

      September 30th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    17. Paulla says:

      You know, this is more than troubling. I think it qualifies as harrassment. Next time call the cops right then and there. Totally unacceptable, and he acted in a threatening manner and scared you. The jerk. 🙁 I’m so sorry that happened.

      September 30th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    18. momof8 says:

      Oh man, I wish I could do two things: Give you a hug and go punch that guy in the stomach. 😀 Now I have to go check out Good Housekeeping. What have you been up to while you were gone!? Congrats!

      * * *

      What did I do on my summer vacation you ask? Well it was over 100 degrees every stinkin’ day this summer and many days it was up around 110 — so we didn’t do much. I’m sctratching my head just now trying to remember. Sean and I spent a week with my parents and my mommy bought us toys! Weee! Other than that, I did some free-lance digital art type work and hung out with my little boyfriend and we read books and made stuff out of things most people throw away. Sounds pretty boring on the whole, but this summer of seven left a sweet taste on my tongue and I want just one more bite. Maybe two. Thanks for asking!

      September 30th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    19. Jenny says:

      Loved! Shirley’s comment. And I hate WM cuz I always come out having spent too much on stuff we need, or kind of need. And I read my mom’s Good Housekeeping. I loved seeing your article and knowing who wrote it. 🙂

      September 30th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    20. JJ says:

      First you don’t recognize me. Then I try to tell you how GREAT you look but the words got all jumbled (pretty girls make me nervous) and then, in the parking lot, I was trying to show you that they FINALLY took the cast off my finger and you stuck your tongue out at me!?!

      As I tell my boys – sometimes you meet a jerk. Sorry that it happened to you.

      * * *
      JF, you are so funny! And I suppose “idiot” is your little term of endearment for me?

      October 1st, 2011 at 11:10 am

    21. Iota says:

      It’s like hurrying and jostling people to get on an airplane. Why? You have your seat number. The plane isn’t going to go until everyone is on it. Why not enjoy a few more precious moments in the spacious departure lounge before folding your legs up and breathing everyone else’s recycled air on the plane.

      Maybe Mother Theresa didn’t take planes either.

      October 1st, 2011 at 11:51 am

    22. Julie says:

      Precisely why I try really hard not to shop at WM. I don’t shop at Target for protest reasons, but I’ve run into the same kind of folk there too. And the Dollar Store. And the grocery store. They’re everywhere, I tell ya! It makes me feel sort of abnormal when I’m the only person making space for others (or expecting the same for myself.)

      PS. I love your term of endearment for him in the parking lot…LOL.

      PPS. Have missed you tremendously, but understand the little boyfriend thing, since I have one of my own.

      October 1st, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    23. Kay says:

      Sooo glad you’re back! I’ve missed your commentary.

      And our WM has its share of characters, but that might even be beyond the pale for here.

      October 1st, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    24. Debbie Owensby Moore says:

      I can’t wait to read your article in GH. I think you showed tremendous restraint. I wouldn’t have been able to hold my tongue. Maybe Mother Teresa would have offered for the man, who was in such a hurry, to go ahead of her. Or she would shop at Target next time.

      October 1st, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    25. Brigitte says:

      *shudder*

      I would not have been able to resist saying something about not wanting to spy out the woman’s checking account/credit card #, so leaving her room, but if he felt it was OK to share that info he could share HIS.

      Of course, I suspect he wasn’t quite right in the head and is probably on some kind of assistance.

      October 2nd, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    26. Quirky is a Compliment says:

      You are a better woman than I. I think I would have pointed out that there were plenty of other lanes that he could stand in if he didn’t like how I was standing in mine. And then I think I would have leisurely purchased all the gum on the rack by the checkout lane one. piece. at. a. time.

      That way I could be sure that I had minty fresh breath when I ran him over with my car.

      October 2nd, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    27. Sandra says:

      Appreciate how you feel about giving the customer in front of you their space. Noone gets finished with their check-out one minute by crowding the person ahead.

      But, Brigette, many things could be suggested about why the man behaved in that manner, but do we have to suggest he was “on some kind of assistance”. Maybe I am misunderstanding, but if that means “financial assistance”, I have to say “ouch”. May no one you love ever have to be.

      October 3rd, 2011 at 9:50 am

    28. Amy says:

      Sorry you had a run-in with one of the worst among us. I think you are a saint for merely sticking out your tongue. I would have had a hard time not giving him the right fist of fellowship and a good tongue lashing if you catch my drift.

      I can’t wait to read your article!

      October 3rd, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    29. Kacey says:

      Oh, My Goodness! That sort of behavior is unacceptable in WallyWorld or in any world! I think it would have been great if you had started yelling and asked the cashier to….”Help me, please! This man is abusing me! Do you have security here?” You, also, could have implored your fellow bystanders to keep him from hurting “little, bitty you”. I wish we (your fans) could have been there. What could he do against four or five hundred irate women and several husky daddies? Do inquire of the management what you should do if anything like that should ever happen again….just to be safe and to keep jerks away from our Theresa pencil.

      October 3rd, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    30. meghan @ spicy magnolia says:

      I would have burst into tears! That said, your blog has been the first piece of writing in the longest time that made me burst out loud laughing! Sticking the tongue out…classic! I will remember this for a long time with a smile on my face, not at your expense though. 🙂

      October 3rd, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    31. Antique Mommy Does It Again | Lessons Learned on the Farm says:

      […] saw this great quote on Antique Mommy’s entry, If Mother Teresa had Shopped at Walmart, She’d Just be Teresa. “I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. […]

      October 5th, 2011 at 1:02 am

    32. edj says:

      Grrrr. What a jerk. Why are people so upset at nothing?

      October 5th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

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