What should I have said to the RUDE lady at the store? (long) - Mothering Forums
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Parenting > What should I have said to the RUDE lady at the store? (long)
fraya's Avatar fraya 09:30 PM 03-04-2004
I took my nearly 3 y.o. boy into a store yesterday. He is a kind, gentle, sensitive boy. He's still 3 y.o., though, and part of the deal of him running errands with me is that we play for him while we also shop for me.

Yesterday, we entered this store for the first time. The woman behind the counter was on the phone, making customers wait while she was quite cranky (I'd say rude) to whomever it was with whom she was speaking. I had been considering picking up the craft but bought a simple bottle of eucalan instead. Meanwhile, my son figured out that there was a motion sensor that triggered the doorbell, and he had a terrible lot of fun triggering it. He was laughing with intense delight, and I enoyed it terribly.

Once I'd gone through checkout, he requested that we stay at the store so that he could play some more. I said that was fine, for him just to let me know when he was ready. Then the woman behind the counter said something rude, I cannot quite remember what, but something along the lines of, "No, he cannot. I've had enough of that. The first ten times were bad enough, but this is ____." I cannot remember what she said exactly, but she was just as cranky and rude with my son (and me) as she'd been on the phone, to say the least. Unfortunately, I didn't feel calm and peaceful in return. So I stooped to her level and said, "How rude!" Then some other woman said angrily, "That's not rude! He was driving me nuts!" I said, "Well, you're rude, too." Then I turned to my distressed son and explained to him, who was urging that we stay, that we wouldn't stay because I didn't want to expose him to rude, mean people. I picked him up, walked out the door, and said, "Get a life." Ooh, a real low point.

I wish that I had said something else, done something else. I was really horrified by what these women had said and done. But I wish that I'd said something more in line with the integrity I carry with me. I wish I'd said something calm and stinging, at the very least, like, "I am leaving your establishment with my son. When I leave, I will take my business and the business of my friends and family with me. But more than that, I will take with me this little piece of misery you've shared with me. Still, I will leave a profoundly happy person, and you will stay here a profoundly miserable person."

But then I think, perhaps they're going through menopause and just really irritable and physically uncomfortable. Maybe I should've said something like, "I can see that you are feeling miserable. You have shared your misery with us, which I find unfortunate and inappropriate." Then, turning to my son, "I am sorry that this woman behaved inappropriately towards you and towards me. I do not wish to expose you to that, so we are going to leave the store." Then, perhaps to the lady, "I hope that you find some place of joy in your heart, so that you might delight in the laughter of a child regardless of circumstances."

So, what do you think I should've said and done? I need to empower myself for the next time it happens.

Journey's Avatar Journey 09:39 PM 03-04-2004
Ummm.... I'm sorry, but you were being rude. The point of raising children is that they can get by in society well. Yeah, we want to have fun along the way, but teaching your son that it's funny to set off the doorbell isn't cool, man. I used to work at a place that had one of those motion detecting doorbells, and I'd often get kids, teenagers, and even adults who thought it would be funny to play with those things. On occasion, they'd knock into it, and it would get "stuck" going off. Ugh. That always sucks, because when you're listening to the thing go off all day, it gets quite annoying when people set it off to be funny.

You have to teach your son respect for others, including those who work menial jobs. By allowing him to play with the doorbell, you weren't taking the woman behind the counter into consideration.

There's no good way to handle this situation, both by the woman behind the counter, or by yourself. Just let it go, and don't let your son do that again! It was rude on your part, and while the woman behind the counter didn't react as properly and respectful as she could have, I can TOTALLY understand her annoyance.
Lucky Charm's Avatar Lucky Charm 09:48 PM 03-04-2004
I'm sorry, but letting him set off the doorbell many times would drive me nuts (and i have three kids).

I can assure you, i am not in menopause either.

I agree with journey, you and your son were not taking the workers and others in line into consideration.

ETA: Maybe the lady was "rude" because she was exasperated by the doorbell?
Nikki Christina's Avatar Nikki Christina 10:16 PM 03-04-2004
I agree with everyone above..it was inappropriate for you to let him do this

trying to make errends fun is one thing.. Not teaching them to be respectfull of others while at it is another issue
GoodWillHunter's Avatar GoodWillHunter 10:37 PM 03-04-2004
I can see both sides of the story, but, I do totally agree with the above posters. I understand your boy found the doorbell fascinating, but, as someone who has worked retail, it is never fun to hear something over and over and over and over. A few times, sure, but not over and over. I'm sorry you had such a rotten experience.
MomInCalifornia's Avatar MomInCalifornia 11:08 PM 03-04-2004
Yikes, I must admit that would have driven me crazy. I understand wanting to make shopping enjoyable for little ones, but I can't see how allowing them to play in noise making doorways is respectful of others. I think that even though she cam eacross as rude, the employess had a valid point.

It could deter bussiness form her store. I know when I am annoyed by other customers, I often leave, and a ringing door bell would have anoyed me alot!
oceanbaby's Avatar oceanbaby 11:15 PM 03-04-2004
Even if it had been annoying, the mature response is to ask you or him nicely if he wouldn't mind stopping because the ringing was bothering them or hurting their ears or whatever.

If someone puts an obnoxious toy in ds's face, I would rather he turn away and say "no" rather than "I hate you, get out of my face, you're mean and I want you to go away."

There are polite ways to respond to a situation, and impolite ways. So yes, while the doorbell may have been annoying, they could have found a more mature (being the adults) way to express their feelings.
mamangazelle's Avatar mamangazelle 11:19 PM 03-04-2004

I can understand that they were annoyed, but I don't think they should have been rude.
This happens to me sometimes at home with dh: kids are making noise that I find totaly acceptable, and he's going nuts, but waits untill he explodes to tell them to stop :
I hate rude people, if they were so annoyed, they should have told you from the start in a nice way like: " sorry, the bell ringing over and over is getting on my nerves, could you please make your son stop?"
I don't understand why people are rude, why they don't try first to adress the situation nicely.
I hate confrontation
Irishmommy's Avatar Irishmommy 11:30 PM 03-04-2004
Moving this to Parenting Issues...
anothermama's Avatar anothermama 11:57 PM 03-04-2004
Chiming in (no pun intended) to say I agree with the above posters. Having worked in retail, I know that you have to deal with LOTS of parents who feel that your store is their childs playland....and it's not.

While it would have been *nice* if she was nice, she wasn't and there isn't a lot to do about that. I don't even think what she said was that rude...it was honest and I think sometimes that retail workers need to be cut a little slack....they have to deal with a lot for little in return.

I'm all for my kid having fun, but not at the expence of others. Triggering the doorbell chime over and over is annoying. Even if it would have been *my* kid, I would have gotten annoyed.

I don't mean to be harsh........I understand how offensive it would have been to have someone be so mean and direct to a 3 year old and it would have irked me too.....but she did have a point.
jannan's Avatar jannan 01:21 AM 03-05-2004
if i wouldv'e been there i would've said to dd,5, "Isn't that annoying ? what a pain!"
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 01:28 AM 03-05-2004
If it had been our store we would have turned the doorbell off and unapoligetically, but politely askedyou to please watch your son. That is incredibly annoying, if he was playing in the sensor he was no doubt right in the door way, and it was rude for you to let your son do that. Our store is not a play ground and it is really frustrating when kids come in and wreck things because thier parents let them play on them. Even if they don't destroy something stuff gets dirty, other customers get annoyed etc. . . (we own a bike store and people always let thier children ride the bikes, seems fine but really, that is $100 worth of merchandise that no one is going to want to buy because it is dirty and shows wear, it is dangerous and just not respectful. We have had to hang them from the cieling so people wouldn't ride them without intent to buy. Which is an added expense to us sense employee have to monitor that area so heavily. We shouldn't have to protect our property in our own store like that.) Sorry to to prattle on so, but as a business owner I feel very strongly about these things. when you enter someone business you should act as though you are in someones house. You would probably never have let your son ring someones front doorbell 50 times.

That said . .

Those ladies were rude. For the sake of customer service they should have found a nicer way to ask you to make him stop. perhaps a nice "Could you please not do that" would have been appropriate. or "could you please watch your child, it isn't safe for him to be doing that?"

When it comes right down to it we would rather loose one annoying customer than 10 annoyed customers.
hvl25's Avatar hvl25 01:34 AM 03-05-2004
I agree with the above posters also. But like others have said, she could have asked a little nicer maybe. But sometimes I get annoyed with certain sounds, etc and I probably wouldn't have been nice either:
MelMel's Avatar MelMel 01:53 AM 03-05-2004
yeah, why didnt she just turn it off? everywhere i worked, we could do that?

as someone who hated retail (so find another job, right? I did ) and someone who avoids confrontation...I can see this lady, stewing and stewing the whole time and then finally, thinking she could wait it out till you left...but then, your about to leave and NO!!!! you actually tell your kiddo he can do that OVER and OVER for as long as he wants, and 'just tell me when you are done' AHHHHH!!!!!!

I agree with journey, that everyone needs to understand where they fit into a society/community/family...we are big on the continuum concept around here, which touches on that a bit more than maybe some AP child-centered ideals. while me and my husband tend to be non-conformist types...it seems everyone is happier when we work as a family unit, not everyone bending over backwords and walking on pins to make sure so and so is appeased.

it is so important to find enjoyment in everyday tasks, and i do love the happiness of a child....but not everyone shares your outlook, or is as infactuated with YOUR child as you are.....and i try very hard to be considerate of that (in fact, just tonight we went out to dinner, the resturaunt was nicer than i thought, so after the meal when my toddler dd started getting 'done' dh took her outside for a walk while i finalized stuff. she was screeching and wanted to be walked around the place, and i felt it was hindering on others enjoyment of their meals, that they paid alot for, and while i still finished what we were doing, didnt prolong it in a way that she would of personally enjoyed-which was walking around inside and exploring)

interesting thread, gave me alot to think about.
famousmockngbrd's Avatar famousmockngbrd 02:30 AM 03-05-2004
The OP may not have been as considerate as she should have, but at least she wasn't being deliberately rude. I'm sure she didn't realize her DS's behavior was annoying to the clerk, and she should have been given a chance to respond to a polite request, rather than be subjected to an angry outburst. That wasn't fair.
Journey's Avatar Journey 02:46 AM 03-05-2004
Oh, I understand she wasn't being deliberately rude. It always sucks discovering you made a faux pas, especially when somebody responds rudely and unexpectedly, as the woman behind the counter did. I can see how the whole thing snowballed. I feel really bad for how the OP and her son were treated, but I do hope she understands now that she should make sure she teaches her son to be considerate while he's having fun.
traci5489's Avatar traci5489 03:21 AM 03-05-2004
I do hope she understands now that she should make sure she teaches her son to be considerate while he's having fun.
that pretty much sums it up for me...but I am one of those mean mommies who won't let their children handle merchandise in a store (unless they are purchasing it) and would never have thought my kids triggering a constant bell to be funny at any rate...oh and no menopause here either
fraya's Avatar fraya 03:53 AM 03-05-2004
Well, I'm back again. I made the mistake of checking this before bed, and now I will have these responses weighing heavily on my mind and heart as I attempt to sleep next to my precious babe.

In reading the responses, I was shocked: I feel unsupported when I'd sought and anticipated the opposite. I was looking to broaden my circle of support, not to be reduced to tears by being bashed. Besides, I didn't anticipate a trial over the facts of the case. What I was seeking was support and suggestions regarding how to respond to store clerks in the future. I anticipated positive, constructive responses (like, "Next time, don't even say anything to the store clerk -- just quietly tell your son what the deal is, and then leave.").

I treat my son with the utmost respect, and I expect him to treat others similarly. In our house, we use positive conflict resolution; everybody's needs are important. If the clerk had told me that she was having a bad day, had a headache, whatever, and she just couldn't handle listening to the doorbell again, I would have explained her feelings to my son, and, although disappointed, we would have moved on from there. I think that it was particularly harsh for a poster to call ME rude simply for letting my child play. I wholeheartedly disagree: My intention was only to create joy, and rudeness can not come from such intention. I don't think it was inappropriate, and I don't think it was inconsiderate, either: Had she expressed to me her desire for quiet and I had continued to let my son play, it would have been inappropriate and inconsiderate. But it is not my responsibility to read anybody else's mind: As adults, it is our responsibility to share with others what our needs are and to do so kindly and constructively. In the absence of that, I can only judge what I would consider to be bothersome and what I expect others would consider to be bothersome based on my experience, and listening to the sound of a doorbell, sound sensitive though I am, does not fit that category for me.

As for the feelings of those of you who worked in retail and/or otherwise suggested that I shouldn't let my son play in a store at all, I am of a completely different mindset. First of all, I ALWAYS watch my son. I never ever let him out of my sight, and he definitely respects when something is fragile, delicate, or just not something the store people wish for him to play with. In this situation, I gave him permission to play as he did, and I was right there with him. I think it is totally wrong to make a young child go along quietly on errands that are for the sake of a parent. I would not have let him play with the yarn, dismantling it. But I do think it's reasonable for him to play with those things that he cannot damage so that he can entertain himself while I'm going through checkout or shopping. Is that more bothersome than a screaming child? Do you think that if I had held my son while he squirmed and screamed that it would have been appropriate for her to tell me similarly that the first few minutes of him screaming were enough but she couldn't take it any more? Do you think that she would have done so? No way, at least not in our society. I think it's part of the bargain: If you cater in any way to mothers or parents, you should anticipate having children in your store and should accommodate them. Those of you who indicated otherwise obviously will not agree with that, and we simply differ.

In fact, I often get, and always have gotten (since he was a baby), compliments from store clerks on how well-behaved and quiet my son is. I explain to them that we meet each other's needs: He gets to play for a little while, and I get to shop for a little while. With his needs met, I can meet my needs (and vice versa). I almost always allow plenty of time for that, too. The clerks marvel and certainly agree with the philosophy.

I wish that I had never posted this thread, that I could erase this from my memory and unburden my heart of it. Although most of you surely simply posted without any expectation of how it would make me feel lousy, the fact is that I feel disheartened, unsupported, disappointed, and kicked-when-I-was-down by the majority of responses that I got here. Only a few people were able to support me nonjudgmentally, as a person who felt that in an awful situation I didn't respond as well as I would've liked to but definitely did the best that I could. In fact, only a few people noted that the store clerks were unduly rude to me and to my son, regardless of the facts of the situation.

To those people who contemplated my heart for a moment, and ventured to support it, I offer my deepest thanks. It is this of which I need more in my life. I beseech you to share your peace with more people.
Britishmum's Avatar Britishmum 04:23 AM 03-05-2004

I'm sorry that the responses here made you feel lousy.

When I read your OP, I thought of a miserable woman who works at Michaels, my dd's favourite store. She manages to make our trips there truly ugh. We have a great time going around the store selecting stuff for art projects, then she is utterly miserable and rude when we check out. On one occasion it was because dd#2, who was about 15 months old then, pulled over a tub of American flags as we went through the line - they were right on the edge of the counter - and the woman stood and tutted at me as I tried to clear it up while watchign two small children. I did write to the manager to complain and he was very apologetic, but she was equally as rude and miserable next time we went in.

In the end, I found another branch that is a longer drive, but the staff are OK - not exactly friendly, but they don't make me feel that my children's natural enthusiasm for life should be squashed flat.

As for your doorbell, I really don't know if I"d have let my dd play there or not - it would probably have depended on my mood LOL. But the check out lady had no right to be rude to you. A polite request would have sufficed, but really, even if she didnt like it, she should have put up with it until you left the store. No biggie. Honestly, you'd have thought she'd have let the fun of a child entertain her, not increase her bad mood.

I was letting dds run around the mall recently with a friend's child, in a deserted spot but near the Information desk. My friend suddenly realised that the woman on the desk was looking daggers at us because the children were being noisy. We moved away, but I did wonder what made her so flippin miserable. They really were doing no harm, just letting off steam after sitting down for lunch. Other shoppers were smiling at them, so it was only the miserable worker there who didnt like it.

Still, she might have had a bad day, or be having a bad life, like your check out clerk. I say, shop somewhere else in future. Even if the clerk really doesnt like what your child is doing, it's her job to be polite to customers.

As for smart answers to poeple like this, I'm not the right person to ask. I'm useless in situations like that too. Oh, how I'd love to be one of those quick witted people irl, not half an hour after the event. :LOL
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna 04:57 AM 03-05-2004
I'm totally confused how anyone could think that constantly ringing or setting off a door bell wouldn't be annoying.

spatulagirl's Avatar spatulagirl 05:04 AM 03-05-2004
It didn't seem to me like you were asking for support. You asked what we thought you should have said or done? You got very thoughtful replies. Everyone gave you their opinion and now you seem to think everyone is wrong when you were the one to ask for advice. : I don't get it.

No one accused you of not watching your son. And most agree that the salesclerk could have handled the situation nicer. But you also didn't really have the nicest response. And it was your child and your actions the started the situation. Your deal with your son says he can play and then Mommy can shop.

I would never ever let my child set off a chime or doorbell in a store on purpose and constantly. I think that is rude. It isn't good clean fun. If you have a deal like this with your child, then you shop and he gets to play outside in a playarea. Stores and malls in the States have these don't they? Or he can ride a mechanical toy or something as a treat. When I take my son shopping we make an effort to let him play on a play structure or ride the horses or stop at a park. I don't let him play with things in the store (unless we are buying it) nor do I let him annoy other customers or the poor sales clerks who are making minimum wage and probably already dealt with numerous annoying kids and parents setting off the doorbell. You were rude and you were teaching your son to be rude.
oceanbaby's Avatar oceanbaby 05:22 AM 03-05-2004
Well, as I read the responses, I could tell you were going to be upset. I would have been upset as well. Like I said in my previous post, the appropriate response from the clerk would have been to tell you that it was annoying her and to please stop.

I came back here because I realized I hadn't answered your question as to what to say to her. I guess I would simply have said "I'm sorry we upset you. I wish you had said something earlier rather than being rude to my child."

We all make judgement calls during the day with our kids. I personally get annoyed watching a little kid whine and be miserable while being stuck in the cart, listening to the mom constantly tell them to stop touching anything. What is annoying to one person is not annoying to another - we should know this from the posts about restaurant behavior with children. I don't mind hearing a shriek now and then, or spoon banged here or there, or my chair kicked once or twice while they get in and out. (Please tell me that I don't have to say again that I am not talking about extremely out of control behavior.) Other posters here have talked about how they consider that behavior rude and disrespectful, that it ruins their meals, and that if kids can't sit still and quiet at the table that they should be left at home.

Would I have found the doorbell annoying? Maybe, but that doesn't excuse me from being mean about it. I can choose to ask them to stop, or to tolerate it until they leave. My reaction is my responsibility, no one else's.

I will reiterate my position again here as I have in the other similar threads: Anybody can be annoying, adults or children. Annoying is a subjective term, and we can't expect one person to always protect another from all that they might find to be disruptive. All people have a right to be present in our society, all have a right to be accepted and tolerated for what their limitations are, and everyone should do their best to be respectful and kind and supportive.
juicylucy's Avatar juicylucy 05:25 AM 03-05-2004
ok, I'm sure the OP has picked up on the fact that ringing the doorbell was annoying by now. Please lay off her. I would be hurt by these replies as well. She wasn't trying to be intentionally rude- the shopkeeper was.

Fraya, I hope you sleep well. Don't let this get to you too much- different things bother different people. If I were the shopkeeper I would probably have been annoyed by a ringing bell, but you can bet I would have found a much nicer way of expressing my annoyance than the way she did it.
juicylucy's Avatar juicylucy 05:27 AM 03-05-2004
oceanbaby, we cross-posted

seems like we are saying about the same thing though
charmarty's Avatar charmarty 05:29 AM 03-05-2004

pugmadmama's Avatar pugmadmama 05:29 AM 03-05-2004
Originally posted by fraya
... I wholeheartedly disagree: My intention was only to create joy, and rudeness can not come from such intention. ...
Intentions and what comes from those intentions are often, sadly, worlds apart. So, yes, rudeness can come from an intention to "create joy." In fact, your story neatly illustrates that very point.

Originally posted by fraya
... I don't think it was inappropriate, and I don't think it was inconsiderate, either: Had she expressed to me her desire for quiet and I had continued to let my son play, it would have been inappropriate and inconsiderate. But it is not my responsibility to read anybody else's mind: ....
Do people, sales or otherwise, really need to tell you that setting off a doorbell over and over and over is inappropriate and inconsiderate? Is that your position? Because I'm finding that nearly unbelievable.
charmarty's Avatar charmarty 05:38 AM 03-05-2004
Hey,listen You were not there.You have no ideahow big,small,or even LOUD the doorbell thingy was!
What everybody is Missing here is the fact that she was spoken to RUDELY!Now if it were you in her shoes how would you feel?Come on mamas even if she did make a bad judgement call I am sure she has NOW learnt from it. I think what has bothered her the most is her son witnessed it all and was upset by it. That is what we should focus on.How to resolve conflict like this when it happens when you least expect it from who you least expect it.

Lets try to be a bit more gentle here please.
Mamid's Avatar Mamid 06:15 AM 03-05-2004
I would have and had said: Your choice: happy chirpy child who is making a lot of noise because he found a new toy, or a kid in full screaming tantrum.

That's shut those b-rhymes-with-snitches down more than once.
Lucky Charm's Avatar Lucky Charm 11:48 AM 03-05-2004
I treat my son with the utmost respect, and I expect him to treat others similarly.
What about the employees at the store? do they and the other customers deserve the same respect?

Ringing the electronic doorbell endlessly is not being respectful. How could you think that? Do you really think that what your son was doing was not rude?

Now, I am not saying the sales clerk should have been rude. I am sure she could have handled it better. I think she was most likely exasperated. I am most sure your son was having the time of his life, standing there/jumping, triggering the doorbell. But why cant you see how that can be disrespectful and rude in and of itself?

So those of us that arent letting our kids do that, are we not allowing them "joy" and wonder? Because i keep my son in the shopping cart instead of ringing doorbells, somehow i am stifling his joy?
I'm sure the OP has picked up on the fact that ringing the doorbell was annoying by now
I doubt it. have you seen her response?

I am angry now, but when i first posted my response, i dont think i was "bashing" anyone.

In a hundred years, i would never allow any of my three kids to do this.
mimim's Avatar mimim 12:25 PM 03-05-2004
Wow! You really got jumped on here, fraya!
While I agree that it would've been better to have let your ds play with the bell a few times and then redirected his attention, I don't think that's the issue here. The clerk was very rude! She should've asked you nicely.
What I would've said (although it didn't happen to me - IRL I probably would've reacted like you did) is "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize it bothered you. I wish you had said something before." That's setting a good example for your ds and her too.
Sorry that you had to experience such anger. I always feel shakey and weak after an experience like that. I'm trying to learn not to react equally as bad as the person whom I'm confronting, but it doesn't always work out that way.
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