Why am I telling you this? Because my darling daughter informed me that it turns out that many middle-aged women are routinely—if not rude, if not mean or icky—very entitled. Way more so, she insisted, than any younger customers that come into the store. Of course, I’d been smugly certain that it would be the other way around. And while I found this news both shocking and fascinating—enough, in fact, that I totally knew I was going to blog about it as soon as I could—I was way more shocked and fascinated by the fact that a mere few days later, I, moi, me, myself, your humble blogger, your friend (remember this part, please), exhibited a crafty bit of entitled shopping myself.
Now before I over-sell my rudeness, I will proviso this by saying that I consider myself pretty thoughtful for the most part. I do think about other people when I am out in the world, I am reasonably self-sacrificing (okay, not always), and I do care that other people aren’t getting shafted by my demands and needs. So, by these, my own high standards, I was a bit taken aback by my own “entitled” moment.
The other evening, I needed groceries for dinner and rushed to the store to stock up. I pulled into a parking spot and when I got out of my car realized that, thanks to a lack of painted lines, I’d taken up the equivalent of two spots. I knew this, and yet still headed off to run my errands. When I got into the store and, after madly scrambling to grab my armful of dinner ingredients, I found myself in a loooooooong line at the checkout. I was frustrated, but settled in for the wait. Then another cashier showed up and opened a new cash. One line-bound customer ran for the newly opened cash, but everyone else stayed in that first looooooong line. I hesitated as second after second after second ticked by and no one moved. I knew I could say something; I could, for instance, have kindly suggested that maybe some of the people in line ahead of me might consider grabbing that eagerly awaiting line-less cash. But what did I do? I lifted my armful of groceries, steadied my nerves, and nimbly picked my way through the patiently waiting customers until I—who had been far back in the line—was now at that sweetly empty second spot in line.
As I loaded up the conveyor belt with my goodies and glanced out the window at my two-spot-taking car, I couldn’t help thinking, “I am that woman. That middle-aged, entitled (also white and middle-class) woman who thinks the world revolves around her.” I’m telling you, I vacillated between a feeling of dumb self-horror and selfish excitement. I had consciously, purposefully—but not proudly—stepped outside my box.
Would I do it again? Probably not… Am I changing for the worse? I don’t think so. But I am certainly not the utterly gracious, selfless, and generous consumer I had blindly assumed myself to be.
I know I am, but what are you???
Deb: Wow, this is a tough one. I know you to be that honest gal who is always considerate of other people’s feelings. I say everybody deserves one of those “playing outside the lines” every once in a while whether they are middle-aged or not. I hesitate to answer this one for myself lest I be deemed a goody two-shoes, but the truth is, and I am not lying a lick, I have backed in and out three times to make sure I only took up the one space and I am always the person who defers and says to that person in front of me, “Did you see the next line just opened up?”
You hate me right now, don’t you, Barb? I am certainly not saying in any way that I am the better person. Nor do I think you are about to go out and rob a bank. It is just that I was brought up by Nan and Jim, rules followers, purveyors of fair play and all that rot. My brother is the exact same. So it is just not in me to do that. Hell, I have a wheelchair parking pass on my car all the time and I only use it when Dad is in the car. Yes, I am that girl. Sorry, darling friend, but here’s what I will say, “Halleluiah, Barbara is human!”