Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is the cave next door to you occupied?


I was chatting with my mother this past Sunday evening when she told me about an incident that happened to her in the grocery store earlier in the day that, on one hand, almost made me laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it, and, on the other hand, made me want to hit someone.

She said she was pushing her grocery cart up the center aisle of the store -- a big Kroger in a nicer area of town -- where a huge display of Valentine's Day merchandise in the center aisle had created essentially two aisles, one on the right side of the display and one on the left. The aisles were narrow, but wide enough for two buggies to pass.

As she pushed her cart up one side, however, she came across a woman and her cart parked in the middle of the aisle where my mother could not pass with her cart. My mother is generally a very patient person and so she stopped her cart and waited, thinking it would just be a moment while the woman picked out her bread. After more than a moment of waiting, the woman finally looked up and acknowledged her presence, but instead of saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, I see I have blocked the aisle," she said, "What?" making a face that clearly showed her anger at being imposed upon.

My mother ignored the tone and answered the question, "I'm just waiting to get past" which apparently was considered a stupid statement by this woman who responded, "Can't you just go around?" Meaning "Can't you just go back down the aisle and around the huge display of, ironically, red heart-shaped candy boxes and love-adorned novelties, and stay away from me?"

My mother, again ignoring the tone but probably starting to simmer inside said, "I thought I could wait" probably infuriating the woman even more as she responded, "What do you want me to do?"

Honestly I can't tell you how the story ended, whether my mother pulled her cart back down the aisle or the woman maneuvered her own cart closer to the shelf so she could push her cart past. By the time my mother got to the end of the story I was seeing red.

I suppose if we lived in a more metropolitan area I would encounter such situations more often, but, frankly, I'm the kind of person that apologizes all over myself in the grocery store and most other people in our town are the same way. I can't even imagine being the kind of person that would ask "What?" of a person waiting patiently for me to get out of the way. My husband, however, was reading the Wall Street Journal last night and came across an article about just this topic and apparently people with this sort of behavior have a named disorder: Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome. I guess giving it a name makes those individuals feel better, but frankly, I would call it Jerky Person Syndrome, or more realistically, Person with No Faith Syndrome.

Honestly, can you have faith in the God who created you and your fellow man and have such disdain for a person who simply walks a bit slower, or expects to share space with you? Not that people who are impatient with each other can't have religion, but can you have such hate for your fellow man if you claim to love the God that created all men?

Some days, I tell you, people make me want to find a cave and move in.



  1. I always think that a person like that has to be so unhappy. Fortunately, for every encounter I have like that, I have so many more with people who are kinder than they need to be, and that soothes my soul. But it does really spoil your day! I hate that your mom had that experience.

  2. It's this general rudeness of the masses that keeps me away from much shopping and feeds my comfort with internet shopping.

    I'd have been red like you.

  3. Fortunately, Sheila, my mom can laugh about these things. But, I agree -- people like that must be so unhappy, and, hence, I think they must be faithless.

    I agree about internet shopping, Allison, but grocery I do buy in person -- early in the morning.

  4. When my boys were little, my husband I were very attentive to teaching them good manners. We think that good manners show other people their value, and they are valued because they are God's children even if they don't know it.

    Sadly, it is becoming common place to use bad manners--and common for parents to accept them. Bad manners also draw one into himself and make his world so much smaller! Very sad.

    All the more reason to pray for everyone, and to pray for patience, yes? Your mother must be a very patient woman!

    I agree with Allison about Internet shopping! :-)

  5. Wow, I'm sorry that happened to your mother and not you. I'm sure you would have put her in her place!!

    No, seriously, It just reminds me of the good old rule to live by "kill them with kindness" and pray for them.

    I'm more like you and apoligize over and over for being in the way!

  6. I was thinking about this the other day. Here it is expected that you make eye contact and greet those you pass. I remember that standing out when we were here the first time. A Dutch friend of mine was "Hallo-ing" everyone we passed. Tis the way here.

    I thought how that contrasted with the US where it is actually more appreciated if you do not bother others with any form of acknowledgement that might interrupt their train of thought or errand. No one can be bothered with simple courtesy nor take that little time out of their busy lives to greet a stranger with civility. And really, how much does that take? A second?

  7. If someone is blocking me in the grocery store, I never wait for them to notice me and move, I just find a way around. I've had enough people fail to notice me waiting that I've decided it's just asking to be annoyed to wait for them to notice you and move. If I go to turn into an aisle and I see that the aisle is blocked or crowded, I just go to the next unblocked aisle, walk the aisle, then come back to the aisle that was blocked. I think that a certain percentage of people have it in their heads that wherever they're standing belongs to them until they decide to move. As for myself, I try to never position myself so that I'm blocking an aisle, even if there's nobody else in the entire aisle at the time I'm stopping, because I don't know when someone else may come along and need to get past.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!