Growing old not so gracefully

I’m not that old! I’m in my 30’s so even I am surprised by how sensitive I have become recently to people not having good manners. A few things have happened this week that has left me to wonder if I am loosing my marbles or if I am just having a bad week.

It started at Home Hardware. I went looking for a new fuse for my brand new fairy lights. They worked the first time I switched them on, then stopped. A new fuse can sometimes fix the problem so off I went. Every time I have been in the store the staff there have been friendly…except this time. An older gentleman walked up to me and said, “can I help you?” I explained my problem and asked if he had fuses for fairy light plugs. The guy stared at me with a ‘what the hell are you on about?’ look and he didn’t say anything for so long I started to wonder if he had heard me at all. He then asked me to repeat what I had just said, which I did. He continued to look at me like I was an idiot. He then asked what the voltage was to which I replied I didn’t know and that’s when he scoffed at me, raised his eyes to the roof in a ‘bloody women shouldn’t be doing a mans work’ sort of way and then reprimanded me on how that piece of info was the most important part before huffing off to a rack. Suitably offended I didn’t follow him, I walked out the store. F**k you, thought I, the lights aren’t that important anyway! I know the voltage part is important but I genuinely didn’t know that piece of info.

My next venture was with the gas man. I have an automatic sprinkler in my garden to deter raccoons and squirrels from digging up my garden. I have it pointed towards the garden and you have to be within range to set it off so walking around it to get to the meter is easy if you are smart. Not this guy. I wasn’t aware of the altercation until I heard my garden gate forcefully slam shut. Knowing I had locked the gate the night before I was surprised to hear it so went out to investigate, my 3 year old son behind me. My gate was swinging in the wind…strange…then an angry voice from behind me exclaimed, “I just got wet checking your meter!” Turning around I saw the gas man, hands in the air, yelling at me.

“Well, if you had let me know you were there I could have switched it off,” I replied, stunned at the outburst. My son looked up a me and asked, “why is that man shouting at you?” Hands still in the air the guy stormed off. You would have thought he had been hit with slime. I checked my gate to make sure it was still intact, which it was only a little looser than it had been before. Seriously?! All because you got wet? You wanna break my property? A call was put into the complaints department that afternoon.

Lastly, this morning, the city of Toronto pissed me off. Not the actual city, just the lovely individuals who work for it. We have a public footpath next to our house which need maintenance, grass cutting, tree trimming etc. Our house is also at the top of the dead end road. A white city truck pulled up and rather than parking opposite our house, where there are no driveways, they park right across my driveway, blocking both myself and my neighbors cars.  What though process goes through people’s head where they think, ‘hey we’ll just park here and block these people in.’ It happens all the time. Had I been able to find the individuals i would have politely asked them to move so I could get out but they were nowhere to be seen.

Am I getting old and crotchety already or am I right to feel the way I feel? It kinda upsets me sometimes that the general public can’t be nice all the time! If this carries on I am going to be a very grumpy old woman by the time I’m 40…

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There is a line, but can I cross it?

If someone told me how I should mother my children, I would tell them where the shortest cliff was so they could take a long walk off it. Recently, however, I have found myself itching to do just that: to tell parents to do or not do something involving the care of their child.

When I was a kid I grew up under the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ rule. I was taught it was rude to behave badly when out in public. I had to to be quiet when in a shop or cafe or museum and I was always informed of my manners (or lack thereof!). When at home I was free to do what I wanted (within reason) but if I went to a friends house or out with my parents, the Good Act had to be played as I’m sure it did with most kids. Keep in mind I lived in the UK where people are much more outspoken and you got in s**t for anything so I’m wondering if being in Canada things are a little different or if it is just a sign of the times? Remember that age old threat, “Wait till your father gets home!” Apparently that doesn’t work anymore.

What the heck happened?!

Today, as I was enjoying a coffee in my favourite cafe with my three year old son, I witnessed a whirling dervish of a child who was a ball of running, screaming, dangerous energy. He couldn’t have been far off my sons age and his mother was looking after something even smaller. I know what it is like to have two kids under the age of three – I did that – however I don’t think that can excuse you for knowingly letting your child run up and down a very small space, screaming loudly and disturbing other patrons. This child was a health and safety nightmare! The cafe is on a major road with lots of cars, trucks and large streetcars. The front door is usually always open during the summer to let in the cool air so it wouldn’t take much for him to run clean out and meet with an unhappy accident. There are also shelves with breakable items on them and, let me see, oh yes! People with scolding hot coffee walking around. If he ran into them, another accident. And yet his mother just sat there, watching, with a look of, ‘isn’t he precious!’ on her face.

Looking around I could see patrons were getting irritated by the noise. The staff within the cafe were also looking nervously at each other and I’m sure one of them was wondering if something should be said.  When I worked in a restaurant I did have a few occasions involving unruly children – any kids who ran around or were uncontrolled I had no issue telling their parents to deal with it. I told them it was too dangerous and we wouldn’t be responsible for any damages to their kid if he/she got burned, tripped or walked into. I have also seen other patrons taking matters into their own hands but it never worked out too well. I think parents get embarrassed and angry, even though they have no intention of fixing the problem in the first place.

In this situation there were a few things I wasn’t sure of, for example was the mother a previous employee and a friend to everyone there? Was she the owners sister? Perhaps she was well known in the community and this sort of thing was the normal routine! Regardless of all that would it be bad to say something about her child’s behavior? Would it be bad if I walked up to her and said ‘Shut your child up and control him before he has an accident!’ Should this be the line that can be crossed?

I’ve had a total stranger walk up to my infant daughter and physically pull her thumb out of her mouth because they said it was wrong of her to so that. The person was lucky to be able to walk off the subway train. That is a line wrongly crossed. However when it is something that is inherently annoying and rude and potentially disastrous, is it OK to assume something can be said or just wait for the inevitable to happen and then think, ‘I told you so,’ before feeling guilty for not preventing the disaster.

Before I had the chance to actively carry out this thought the delightful party left but it made me wonder: if I had stood up and said something, would it have caused a huge fuss? Would I have been glared at for crossing that line?

Your thoughts? Would you say or have you said something in a similar situation? Have you had a total stranger tell you how to be a parent and was it positive or negative?