This could be one of the most ridiculous stories you have ever read about manners. Yet, it is absolutely true, and it contains a good lesson, so yay.
So about a year ago I took my son, at that time age 2, to Aldi with me. Grocery shopping used to be so much easier before my baby. I was in between online grocery shopping dates and needed some things, so it needed to be done. I took a deep breath, grabbed my quarter for the cart and headed on in to stock up at the “stock-up store.”
For those of you not familiar with Aldi, the shopping carts are accessed outside via a quarter, and when you return the cart, you get the quarter back. It helps with cart control, plus they don’t have to pay a high school student or retiree to corral all the carts each day.
Anyway, my boy never liked to sit in the shopping cart. He wants to be held, and he screams if you try to put him in there. I don’t know what I did wrong when he was a baby…or 1…or 2 (or now 3), but as I’ve said in previous blogs, he is 100% a stage-5 clinging mama’s boy. I love that my son needs me and finds comfort in me, but I will say that carrying your 30-pound toddler around the store as you are trying to steer a loaded grocery cart is not that easy. As I coasted through aisles and turned corners, I prayed I was not going to plow into some frail elderly couple holding bananas.
A headache and a few toddler tantrums later (because I wouldn’t put Pringles, hot sauce or three big bags of M & M’s in the cart), we survived! I felt liberated, like I should be singing and running through the mountains while flipping my hair as though I was in some shampoo commercial.
We made it to the car, I unloaded my groceries, secured my son in his car seat and strolled happily back to the cart return station. It was then that I heard a screechy, hideous voice that stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Ladyyyyyy! I need yo cart! Gimme YO cart!” an Asian woman yelled from several feet away.
She was with two other women, and they were all staring at me, as I was back at them, like a deer in headlights.
They still had several steps to reach me from the parking lot, so in my head, I was trying to process exactly what was going on at that moment, and how I was going to respond.
I was raised to always be polite. I was taught “please” and “thank you” were so, so important. Manners and common courtesy were ingrained into my head very early on and have stuck with me my whole life.
She repeated herself. Her tone seemed venomous. “I need that caaaaart.”
Despite being confused because this lady just yelled at me from across a parking lot, that she didn’t say please, and she was far from friendly, I smiled, politely held out my hand and said, “Ok, that’s fine! It’s just a quarter.”
Her eyes got all squinty, and the women she was with looked at me with scorn and squinty eyes as well. I have nightmares about those eyes.
“I don’t have a quarter. You just give cart,” she sneered back at me.
Ok, right then I knew that doo doo just got real.
Bizzo, if you want my cart, you better say “please,” I thought.
I could have just given her my cart, avoided conflict and moved along with my day. But as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m a neurotic perfectionist, and manners are manners, so at that moment I decided I was absolutely NOT going to cave into her snarky demands.
It was not about the quarter. It was about the principle of the matter. Had she just said the magic word, a simple “please,” I would have happily given her my cart and felt like I did a very small good deed.
But she rubbed me the wrong way, and I just couldn’t do it. Call me a sissy, but I was the manners police and I was definitely sounding my sirens! I just wanted to get back to my boy.
“I’m sorry,” I said, and suggested she go inside to request a cart from the employee. I pointed out that I was sure they would give her one to use for free.
She looked shocked, her friends looked pissed and a nearby mom with her toddler looked relieved that it was not her in the precarious situation in which I was currently entangled.
And then what she said still haunts me to this day. I’m totally serious. Her voice sounded like the male Asian character (Leslie) in The Hangover.
“Ooooooohhhh. Quarter gonna make you a millionaire,” she hissed at me before escalating to a yell. “QUARTER GONNA MAKE YOU A MILLIONAIRE!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh, to run, to be upset or to say something back.
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Meijer doesn’t charge for carts, if you want to try going there.”
I dropped the mic, did not look back and walked back to my car, trying to cleanse myself of the maniacal misuse of manners that just occurred on a simple shopping trip.
The moral of the story is that “please” and “thank you” sure do go a long way. Oh, and that you should remember to bring a quarter to Aldi if you want a cart.
Do you have any shopping nightmare stories? Share them in the comments!