Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, September 2, 2012

On Good Manners, and the Use of Language

I was in line at Kroger this afternoon, with 3 young women in front of me--all using the same basket, so most likely, roommates.  The one closest to me was holding a number of bottles of soft drink--I think 8 or so.  She dropped one of them.

The bottle exploded, sending a green sticky liquid spraying all over my grocery basket, purse, hair, face, clothing, feet.  The checker began throwing down paper towels.  I began wiping the liquid dripping from my face, neck, arms...searched in my bag for a clip to pin my dripping hair off my now-sticky neck...looked for a tissue to wipe the dripping liquid off my purse, arms, hands...wiped my wet feet on the back of my pants leg...

I was not upset at being sprayed with sticky soda pop...things like this happen, and I know that she did not intentionally drop the bottle or intentionally spray the contents all over me and my basket of groceries.  It was what happened afterward that was upsetting.

Although she had turned to look at me after dropping the bottle, she made no comment.  She apologized to the checker.  She said, "It just shot out of my arms..."  The checker said it was okay, things like this happened, she just did not want someone to slip and fall...and looked at me, leaning on my cane, wiping green sticky liquid off my face, hair, purse, etc...

No, "it" did not do anything.  Now, it is not unthinkable that someone thinks she can hold 8 bottles of soda in two hands...in fact, she did...up until the moment she did not.  "It" did not "shoot" out of her arms...she dropped it.  The actual language that is correct is "I dropped it."  And, from what I was taught, "I'm sorry" and then, clean up the mess.

I kept a smile on my face.  Finally, the young woman looked at me and said, not "I am so sorry" or "Can I get you a tissue?" but, "I hope that did not get on you."  I hope that did not get on you, while I have been wiping it off my face, hair, neck, arms, purse, feet...And then, what was the creme de la creme...the other young woman standing next to her said, "No, it didn't...it all came this way..."

I had my mouth open to form the words, "yes, it did, but it's okay...it was an accident...I'm fine" when the young woman next to her spoke--minimizing the event without any awareness of whether or not it had affected me, or apparently, caring if it had affected me.  That was enough for the other woman--the one who dropped the bottle.  She turned away with no further glance at me, nor concern.

Meanwhile, the checker had called for clean-up, even though she had been cleaning up herself...mopping up the spill with paper towels.  By the time the worker got there with mop and bucket, shoving past me, she said, "I'm done, I don't need help now."  He then shoved past me leaving...literally, as in I had to move over, move my basket.  I am standing on a cane for crying out loud, and able-bodied people act like I am in their way...oh, wait, I am.

The point?  My niece was born with cerebral palsy due to birth injury.  She has been in a wheelchair since she was about 3 and it was clear she would not walk.  I remember when my dad became incensed about not being able to wheel her into a building without going to the back of the building...when having access to parking space with enough space to get a wheelchair next to the car and open the door wide enough to allow her to get in and out of the car was rare...yet necessary.

As someone who climbed onto the roof to nail shingles, shinnied a ladder to paint the eaves of the house, hauled concrete and rocks ad infinitum, it often makes me angry that I have physical limitations. Most of the time, they are manageable and I just deal with them.  But every once in a while, I would appreciate some good manners when someone else's mistake affects my life.


Jennifer said...

Good manners are good manners, whether you're in a wheelchair, using a cane, or a fully able person. That is really shocking behavior on the part of both the girls and the store employees. Many people are so into themselves and their little world that they don't seem to think the rest of the world is all that real or important, and in this case, all three girls (whose mommas clearly didn't raise them right) should be ashamed of themselves. The problem is, if you try to point out that yes, they did get it all over you, their immaturity and narcissism blinds them to it and they usually just end up calling you names either to your face or behind your back later. "Pearls before swine."

Suzassippi said...

Yes, of course they are, and of course, people are more and more narcissistic these days--it permeates the classroom. I can't blame their mothers--they might have taught them, and the teaching didn't take after they reached adulthood. My son does a lot of things that are contrary to his teaching :).

I am finding I have less tolerance for thoughtlessness, and especially when it makes things harder than they already are these days.

The real issue was probably not that she was not sorry, but that she was embarrassed (clearly, it embarrassed her), and pretending it had no effect on me was a measure of saving face.

On the other hand, the young man wielding the mop bucket who was annoyed at having to clean up the mess, has no excuse. He gets paid to do that, and I would assume, with the expectation to be courteous to shoppers, especially those whose age or infirmity might tend to make them litiginous when you push them out of your way. LOL

Gigi said...

What a miserable experience in many ways. I am sorry that this was not handled better. How sad for them that they appear to have no empathy.

Lisa Moore said...

It breaks my heart that people see; but yet, don't see. I must say you were quite "dignified" in handling this situation. I can't help but to wonder "what was she thinking?" I know the answer "she was not thinking". She saw it as no big deal, and went on her merry way. We just need to believe that hopefully she will be more empathic, and less rude as her life goes on. When things like that happen, people are watching to see how we respond. Good looking out, Dr. Allen!!!!