conversation · slice of life

In the Lines

My eyes scanned the Wegmans parking lot for a spot for “parents with small children” spot. I spotted one near the center of the store, which is where Ari likes to park since it’s close to the store’s exterior clock. I pulled into the spot taking care not to come too close to the people who were loading their trunk beside me.
Once I turned off the car, I gathered my reusable bags and placed Ari’s snack bag inside of it. Then, I grabbed my purse and opened my door. I pressed the button to slide Ari’s minivan door open. Once I got everything on my shoulders, I noticed a woman staring me down. 
“May I move over so you can get into your car?” I asked.
“That would be nice,” she replied. 
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were waiting,” I replied honestly,
“I’ll bet you didn’t,” she said hostility. 
I looked at Ari who I was about to unbuckle. I knew I needed to “go high” as Michelle Obama would say. My son was watching. So I said nothing.
“And you parked close too!” the lady snapped.
I looked down at my feet. I wasn’t over the white line separating our spots. I wanted to say that much, but felt uneasy because of her tone.
“I didn’t realize I parked so close,” I said as the woman opened the passenger-side door to her car.
She sneered at me, “I’ll bet you didn’t!” Then she slammed her door.
I looked at Ari who wanted to get out of the minivan. I started to unbuckle him, but I heard the car the woman just got into start its engine. I held Ari back since the woman’s husband reversed out of their spot with intensity. Once they turned into the main part of the parking lot I helped Ari out of his seat slowly. I wasn’t shaking, but I felt frazzled. I looked down at the space between my car and the white line. My size eight foot didn’t fill the entirety of the space. 
I held Ari’s had as we walked into the supermarket. All I could think about was how out of the ordinary this encounter was. Nearly everyone in Central Pennsylvania is outwardly pleasant. I come across rude people so infrequently that it took me well over an hour to shake off the sting of that woman’s behavior towards me.

I parked perfectly fine.
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16 thoughts on “In the Lines

  1. Words matter. I try to say to myself that everyone is carrying a burden we don’t know. You were calm. I would have been afraid and perhaps I would have cried. So sorry.

    1. I kept telling myself that whatever was making her angry really had nothing to do with me. I’ll be honest, I felt like I had to stay calm since this woman wasn’t. If I had responded by yelling, I think it would’ve gone way worse.

  2. I have never understood why people act like that. What good did that encounter do for her? My slice tomorrow is something very similar – rude people!

  3. You’re lucky that most people are outwardly pleasant! I’m sorry this woman thought it was ok to treat you this way. After seeing Marc Brackett this weekend, I think she could use a few lessons in regulating her emotions.

  4. The impact that stranger’s anger and hostility has on us is pretty profoumd, isn’t it? You don’t want to let it have an impact on the rest of your day, but it’s hard to shake the feeling when someone makes you feel inconsiderate. And, I know that she may have been experiencing something rough, but we always have a choice…just like you made a choice to respond apologetically. I feel like too many people feel entitled to get angry whenever they want..hostility may start as a small ripple, but it can cause a big wave.

  5. I hate those encounters – and luckily have them very rarely. Somehow they leave me shaken even when I know I have done nothing wrong. Good for you for keeping your calm, especially with Ari around. I hope you encountered some kindness later in the day.

  6. I was cursed out on car line duty last week and have yet to shake it off. I have found myself in terrible judgement of the person as well, which bothers me. I think we need to realize that people who treat others with such unpleasant behavior are probably terribly unhappy. It’s always best to stay calm.

  7. You did a great job here – you can only control the way you respond and what a great role model for your children. We never know what might be happening in the other’s persons life right now and by not responding negatively to her you probably helped her in many ways.

  8. Incidents like these shake me too. You were wise to keep calm in the face of hostility. You can’t know what the woman and her husband were dealing with, but there is no excuse for rudeness. At least you didn’t respond in kind, and maybe, just maybe, your calmness soothed their anger a bit. Still, I’m sorry that you had to experience this.

  9. Oh man! I wonder what kind of day, or week, or year she is having. Clearly she’d got a lot going on that has nothing to do with you. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but glad you were the bigger person!

  10. Can I speak about the tight spaces we’re given for parking our cars anymore? I’m always trying to leave myself enough room to get out and then I need to maneuver Jack out from the other side. It’s a challenge. I’m sorry for this rude incident, but you did take the high road. Kudos to you!

  11. At least you got to brighten your day by shopping at Wegmans.:) I go there at least ten times a week, and I almost always come out smiling. Nicely done on biting your tongue – I am certain that I would not have been able to do that. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I think I might have called her out by saying something like, “I’m so sorry that something bigger is causing you angst. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

  13. I know I dislike grocery shopping, but not a reason to take it out on someone in the parking lot! Thank you for being a role model to your son. One of my favorite priests, Father Pat, always said that parents hope kids will demonstrate what they have been taught by their parents. But parents should really focus on what their kids have caught them doing- in the positive or negative.

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