Confrontation At My Local Disney Outlet

I had forgotten how many assholes live in my community.

For the last year or so, we have been really swamped. I mean really. Between my father having hip replacement, and us staying with him during rehabilitation; the decision to move closer to him for seven months while we got his home ready to sell; three vacations amounting to a total of nine weeks (Chicago, Chicago, Houston); moving back into our “home community” to a newer, bigger place; then in the culminating event of the past year, selling my dad’s home and condensing his house into a storage unit and one room in our new home…it’s been a little chaotic. I haven’t had a lot of time to get out. Relax. Mingle among the locals.

Now that we are moved in and our place is perfect, homeschooling is on autopilot, and we have no more unanticipated vacations coming down the pipeline for as far as I can see, I’ve been able to get back to normal life. I got back to my book club. And my knitting group. We started having people over for BBQs and dinner again.

And we’ve been out more in the community. Among all the assholes.

It’s been a long time since a bizarre situation appeared itself before me. Trips to the nail salon have not involved police in years. And I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a parent-on-parent confrontation, especially one in which I was involved.

So today, owing to my apparent amnesia as to the state of this community at large (the simple fact that: a lot of people in our town are pretentious, nosy assholes), I decided we were going to have a “girls day” and go shopping. This were just going too well. I had gotten so comfortable in this lack of drama and confrontation that I thought we’d have a good time.

And for the most part we did.

The outlet mall has outdoor corridors, and it was a beautiful day to walk from store to store. We went to the Toys R Us outlet and used up some old birthday gift cards. We went to Michael Kors and I drooled over the purses. I got a shirt at Levi’s for $9 and two pairs or stretchy pants at Charlotte Russe for $15. My wedding band inspection was due, and so we stopped in at the Kay’s Jewelers, which revealed a majorly loose diamond in need of repair. All in all it was fun, relaxing, and productive.

Then we had one, final stop. The Disney Outlet.  They had a sale on kid’s hoodies I wanted to check out, and allowance day was earlier in the week. It was going to be quick. It was going to be easy. How dramatic could a trip to the Disney Outlet be?

We found the hoodies, quick and easy. We started perusing the stuff in the allowance price range, and then a lady came in with two, young children. I mean I have young children, but I mean these two kids looked maybe four or five, and acted two. The little boy started immediately knocking things off the shelves. The little girl, every minute and a half – right on time, as if she had a stopwatch – screamed as loud as she could.

The mother kept coughing and coughing, the entire time. I tried to shuffle through the store quickly. Crashing things. Screaming. Cough cough cough.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

“Can I help you find anything?” a sales employee asked, and the woman said they were just looking, between coughing, coughing, whooping… whooping

“Can I get you a drink of water, you seem in distress,” he said and then she admitted she was getting over a case of whooping cough.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

Communicable diseases.

I continued to shuffle through and it just got worse and worse with these people. I heard two other employees standing near us, quietly talking about how they’d called the manager for approval to stay later in their shifts to clean up the mess this lady and her two kids had made.

It was that bad.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

Communicable diseases.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. They were really close to us at this point. Like looking at the same merchandise. I said “ok, we have to get going so pick what you want now please.”

And then I got protest. Can’t decide. Everything’s great. Blah blah blah. So I did what any other parent in this situation would do, well at least a desperate and at the same time civilized parent, and I leaned over to my ten year old and whispered – WHISPERED – ‘look I can’t take this kid screaming anymore and that lady has whooping cough, we need to go.’

She looked at the disaster of a family standing right next to us – coughing, screaming, and crashing things to the floor; she said she understood. Allowance purchases were selected and we were ready to go within less than a minute.

As we started to walk to the cash register, I heard amidst coughing, screaming, and more things crashing someone shout at me. “Did you just whisper about my family?”

We were the only people in the store, but I still ignored her and walked off. The employees had been talking about her. And anyway, I had whispered. What I say quietly to my kid is my own business. I did absolutely nothing wrong.

But ignoring her was apparently the wrong thing to do; because while checking out, this crazy, coughing lady followed us to the register and started screaming at me “I asked you a question you fucking cunt.”

Disney Outlet. Young children. Do You Want To Build A Snowman playing over the loudspeaker.

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom. You fucking cunt.

Now a lot of people would have turned around and belted that bitch in the mouth. A lot of other people would have turned around and confronted her. Her with all her issues, her lack of belief in the whooping cough vaccine, this psychotic family, and the obvious absence of mental and social decorum.

I signed my credit receipt and instead said as we walked out that I had not heard her. “It’s a little loud in here.” We walked out of the store, the door greeter apologizing for the incident.

With the exception of this lady yelling “fucking bitch” as we exited, the situation was over.

When we got to the car, my daughter asked why I hadn’t “told that lady off,” to which I responded with the common lines about choosing your battles, feeling sorry for people with so many problems, and so on and so forth. Morals. Lessons. Moving on.

But as I drove into my garage, and got everything into the house, I thought about the fact that this is not only a stark reminder that there are a lot of assholes in my community, but that we live in a society in which everyone thinks everything else is their business. So what if I whispered to my daughter about them? Is there something so special about her and those kids that makes that unacceptable?

At least I whispered, others would have said something much louder, and to her face. I chose the high road, while at the same time using tact to get us out of a bad situation. I’ll say it again, and defend it to the death: what I say quietly to my kid is my own business.

Pop Quiz: Do I Need Anger Management?

The other day, while waiting in line at the Disney store to make a gift purchase, I realized that for about ten minutes I had been quietly planning in my head every snarky response I would offer to the prescripted questions the cashier had for me.  I was purchasing only a $4.50 toy cell phone, so the possibilities were going to be great.  When she asked how I was doing, I would say “great now that I’m out of that twenty minute line.  Geez, I felt like I was at Disneyland.”  When she asked if I wanted to buy a reusable beach bag, I would respond “for a cell phone?”  And when she asked if I wanted to open an a credit account, I would reply sneeringly “I don’t typically shop here.”  It would be a series of ultimate burns, in my book at least.  And while I genuinely did not plan on saying any of those things to the poor cashier, who was nothing more than a victim of bad corporate policies to suggestively sell and be as annoyingly perky as possible, I nonetheless amused myself while standing in line between a family of four obnoxious children and a man who had clearly eaten one too many dishes smothered in garlic.

While I would not consider my misanthropic tendencies to be in need of anger management, others might view my tendencies to bite with words – even when I don’t actually do it – to be suspect.  Thus, to resolve this issue, I went in search of a online quiz.  You know those quizzes:  anyone that has ever read just about any magazine in popular culture, be it Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, or US, knows that the best part is always the quiz.  The “Does [He/She] Like Me?” quiz gives us hope.  The “Would I Look Good With Short Hair?” quiz gives us ideas.  The “Am I In The Right Career?” quiz gives us ideas.  Quizzes are not only fun, but give us an outsider’s view on things in our lives that we might otherwise not be able to get an objective take on.

I did find a few quizzes on anger management, but they weren’t of your garden-variety Vogue magazine-type quizzes.  They were on websites of psychologists, and some court-related sites.  In other words, they were professionals who want to diagnose and alleviate anger issues, rather than justify them.  Snooze.

So, my lovely blog followers, I have designed this quiz to help us all distinguish whether we are quiet misanthropes or menaces to society.  Enjoy!

Do I Need Anger Management?

And if the response is “yes,” I will reply with my fist served neatly between two pieces of bread, with a smackeral of mustard.

Answer the following five questions and award yourself the number of points next to each, given answer.  At the end of the quiz, tally your points and proceed to your professional diagnosis.  Please note, while this quiz is in no way a reflection of an actual, professional opinion, your result should be taken as absolute authority.

Oh, and if the Disney chick could stop saying “I know, right?” to every polite customer comment at the cash register, this could all have been avoided.  Just saying.

(1) When you wake up in the morning, do you typically:

  • (0 points) Shower, sing “It’s a Beautiful Morning,” have a well-rounded breakfast, then stop on your way to work to pick up coffee for your co-workers because your in a great mood!
  • (5 points) Hit the snooze alarm once or twice before showering and getting ready for work.  On the way, you grab a bagel and because they messed up your order you got some free food, which you’ll give to your co-workers because you’re full.
  • (10 points) When your alarm rings, you throw it across the room and sleep for an extra hour.  You skip a shower and breakfast, but still arrive late to work muttering “they’re lucky I showed up anyway.  I am SO not paid enough to deal with this shit.”  Around break time, you steal someone’s lunch from the breakroom – HELLO!  you didn’t have time for breakfast.

(2) You stop at the grocery store to pick up a Lean Cuisine for dinner.  Compared to your one item, an elderly woman with a basket full of enough groceries for two weeks cuts in front of you in line.  You:

  • (0 points) Smile and say “go ahead, ma’am.”  After a moment of watching her struggle to get the items onto the conveyer belt, you offer to help.
  • (5 points) Sigh, mutter loud enough for the woman to hear something about how rude people are these days, and head to the self-check out aisle, even though you can never seem to figure out how to use it.
  • (10 points) Push your way in front of the woman and say “hey lady!  clearly your age has affected your eyesight because I was here first!”

(3) Apologies are for:

  • (0 points) Acknowledging that you are human and mending relationships.
  • (5 points) Making a situation better, even when you know you were in the right.
  • (10 points) Pansies.

(4) Have you ever punched another person?

  • (0 points) No.  I believe violence is not the healthiest way to resolve conflict.
  • (5 points) Yeah, I got in a few fist fights in high school, but I’m over that now.
  • (10 points) I punch people regularly.  And when I don’t, I’m punching my fist through a wall and pretending its someone’s face.

(5)  At Thanksgiving dinner, your immediate and extended family typically gets together at your parent’s home to have dinner, watch football, and catch up on family goings-on.  This year, for whatever reason, it is being held at your Aunt Hilda’s home, instead, and you were not invited.  You:

  • (0 points) Figure that Aunt Hilda probably just thought you had other plans and hope that sometime in the future you will be able to reconnect with family members you don’t see often.
  • (5 points) Express your disappointment to your immediate family (maybe your parents, or your siblings), but in the end you weren’t going to go anyway because Aunt Hilda lives in 500 miles away.
  • (10 points) Show up at the dinner anyway, slightly intoxicated, and tell everyone in your immediate and extended family just what you really think of them.  When they ask you to leave, you hit your brother and get in your car to drive over Aunt Hilda’s prize begonias.

Results

0 – 15 points Could you be any more of a push-over?  Grow a pair and start standing up for yourself, for God’s sakes!  Chances are you’re repressing a lot of anger that will come out in an unhealthy way later on down the line anyway.  There is a huge difference between being tolerant and being a complete push-over, and you my friend are a push-over.

16 – 32 points You are more of a realist, but also prefer not to get into too much conflict.  You voice your opinion, but then avoid the consequences.  While this can be a good thing in the sense that it keeps you out of trouble, it can be a bad thing because it will set you up for an avoidance complex.  Next time Aunt Hilda doesn’t invite you to Thanksgiving dinner, you should consider calling her and asking why.

33 – 50 points You definitely need anger management.   You don’t take anyone’s crap and while you wish the world (and the people in it) were a better place, you know it’s really not.  You are a realist who prefers to keep the wool off his eyes.  Rock on!

Now, here’s the caveat:  hitting people, being verbally abrasive, and driving over your Aunt’s begonias may be cathartic, but it is also not the healthiest way to function in society.  A lot of it will get you fired, arrested, or sent to a mental institution.  But to repress your true feelings is also probably one of the most unhealthy habits we carry around with us today.  Remember that episode of The Simpsons where the family went to therapy and everyone hit each other with soft bats?  That kind of therapy exists, because anger repression is just as damaging as anger actuation.

But you’re in luck:  for the low price of having made it this far through the posting, I offer you the cheapest (free) and best (seriously) anger management advice you will ever get:  do what I do.  Amuse yourself with the thoughts of all the wonderfully angry things you could do in whatever situation makes you angry.  Hell, you could even write a self-purported witty blog about it.  The key, though, is to not actually do it.  When the Disney employee annoys you beyond all belief with her happy comments, stupid questions, and dancing to “The Circle of Life” playing over the intercom, imagine smashing her face into the cash register and yelling “you are what is wrong with our society!”  But after chuckling to yourself about this thing you will never do, pay and be on your way conflict-free.  And just because you are managing your outbursts doesn’t mean you have to respond to the canned good-bye with a reciprocal “have a nice day!”