Standing in the stall of bathroom on the second floor of Nordstrom’s, I lost it.

I stood, sniffling, as women around me buzzed in and out of stalls, chatting with friends and helping children wash their hands. I tried to compose myself: it wasn’t working. I was holding back the tears, but only barely.

It was stupid, really, when I thought about it. We’d been in the Lego store in Aventura Mall in southern Florida. The friggin Lego store. Not exactly the place you’d imagine would be the site of spite and vitriol. We wandered around with my cousin’s kids, who were excitedly pointing out things that they liked. I pointed to something, and in the process, came within a foot of touching a fellow shopper – a well-dressed middle-aged woman. I did not, I would like to note, actually touch her. But I am sure I interacted with some molecules that later grazed her personal space, and for this, she was not happy.

She gave me a look one usually reserves for little pieces of poo we find at the bottom of shoes after a pleasant walk in the park.

I sighed heavily. It had been a stressful few weeks. I decided the best way to deal with this woman’s clear irritation at the sight of me would be to kill her with kindness.

“I am so sorry,” I said brightly and as sincerely as I could muster. I gently patted her arm, “It’s so crazy in here, and I was just pointing something out at the kids. I didn’t mean to point at you, of course! I’m really and truly -”

The woman cut me off.

“Look,” she said gruffly. “It’s over now. The thing that I want to know is, why are you still touching me?”

I froze. Wait, what?

She looked at my hand, which was gently patting her forearm, the way one does when trying to tenderly extend a bit of humanity and kindness to a stranger in an otherwise cold and miserable world.

“You’ve touched my arm TWICE and YOU ARE STILL TOUCHING IT. WHY are you touching me?

I don’t know what I replied to her next. I’m fairly sure I simply walked away. I was shaking. Perhaps because it was so unexpected. Perhaps because I was simply trying to be nice. Rand saw the whole thing, came over to talk to me.

“I … I …” I had no words.

“I know,” he said, looking at me sympathetically. “She’s … trouble.”

I nodded. I tried to pull it together in the hustle and bustle of the store, but couldn’t. One of the men who worked there saw the exchange and gently told me, “Yeah … that woman is in a bad place.”

And she’d put me in one, too.

She's the one in white. May it be engraved on her tombstone: "You cannot kill evil."

-

Later, when it was far too late to do anything about it, I came up with a dozen or so brilliant responses to her question, “Why are you touching me?”

  • “I always pet my food before eating it.”
  • “Why? Is bitchiness communicable?”
  • “Sorry. I thought you needed a little human interaction. I didn’t realize you were another species.”
  • “Oh, honey, don’t worry. The clap isn’t that contagious.” (I like this, because it implies that either of us might have the clap. Which we might. GET YOURSELVES CHECKED, KIDS!)
  • “You remind me of a hamster I once had. It’s dead now.”
  • “Does this mean French-braiding your hair is now out of the question?”
  • “Because god knows your husband hasn’t in a while.”
  • “Because Snuggle Club meets in FIVE MINUTES. And you’re the newest inductee.”
  • “Your mustache reminds me of my father.”

    My father is the only person on the planet who can looked pissed off while eating ice cream. (Love you, dad!)

    -

  • “I like how squishy you are. You’re like a human version of those little stress balls.”
  • “Because I’ve always found angry, middle-aged Jewish women to be sexy.”
  • And lastly, my personal favorite, “Fuck you, you miserable whore!”

See? All of those would have been great. But no. I was too shocked to even stay in the store. I know, I know. I was being ridiculous. My life is not hard. It’s ridiculously easy and wonderful. How the hell did I expect to be tough enough to travel the world if I couldn’t handle a crazy woman screaming at me in an upscale Florida mall?

But instead of saying anything, I told my husband I needed a minute, and walked out of the Lego store, through the post-Christmas mall crowds, and straight into the bathroom at Nordstrom.

For the record, when it comes to bathrooms, Nordstrom’s is a godsend. Just be sure to walk up a flight or two, as the bathrooms are cleaner there than on the main floor. There you can have a nervous breakdown for as long as you like, and except for the sympathetic looks you’ll get from the concerned 60-something Spanish-speaking woman, no one will even notice!

And so there I stayed, and there I cried.

Let me be clear: I wasn’t really crying about the woman yelling at me. At least, I wasn’t crying just about that. The real reason I was standing in a bathroom stall and sniffling to myself was a mixture of so much blubber, I think that admitting it will make me sound like a crazy person.

Of course, that’s never stopped me.

I was crying because some friends of mine recently had a death in the family, and I haven’t yet made them a lasagna or sent them a card, and I felt like an ASS for it. I was crying because another friend – one of the most important people in my life – had just had a baby and I was nowhere near her when it happened, though I promised I would be. I was crying because just a few hours prior, my little godson looked at my husband and said, “Rand, can I tell you something? … I love you.”

I was crying because life can be incredibly sweet and fragile and unbearable and we can’t do a damn thing about it. And it’s so fucking short.

I was becoming unhinged, and this woman was the catalyst for it. If I managed to piss someone off when I was trying to excessively nice, what hope did I have when I wasn’t  trying? Indeed, what hope did any of us have? If we are able, as a species, to be so damn hostile to each other (in malls, in Lego stores, on battlefields, in marriages) HOW THE HELL WERE WE GOING TO MAKE IT?

This crisis of existence followed me to New York, where I was sufficiently petrified I’d lose it again, somewhere amidst the crowds and shoving, the madness and rush of the city during the holidays. I was going to end up screaming at someone who gently patted my arm. The cycle of crazy would continue. I just knew it.

I sat, eating lunch in a cafe on 47th, thinking about how doomed we all were. I watched the people who passed – thousands of them. Tall German girls blessed with exquisite cheekbones and long legs. A pack of Italian college students arguing over where to go next. A woman with a Southern accent and tall hair who said “thank you” so sincerely, my heart melted. A tall Londoner in an exceptionally fabulous coat. A young mom with her son, his hair meticulously braided into cornrows.

They slid past one another. They held open doors. They smiled at strangers. They rushed and bumped but they still turned to shout, “Sorry!”

And suddenly, it dawned on me: New York City is a testament to our ability to be tolerant and decent to one another. No, seriously, think about it. There are 8 million people in the city of New York. They speak dozens of languages. They’re all competing for the same taxis, the same apartments, the same spouses. And despite that, they haven’t resorted to cannibalization. Tourists aren’t cooked over bonfires, their children aren’t served as hors d’oeuvres. We’re slightly better than rabbits, and that’s a comforting thought.

Had the people of New York all been like that woman in South Florida, yes, we’d have been doomed. But they were not. Instead, they had already realized what I soon did: that we were all in this together. That life is stupidly short, that it can be stupidly difficult for some people, and that all we can do is make it easier for those around us. Things don’t get any better by yelling at strangers. They don’t get any better by being angry.

I thought back to the woman who had shaken my faith in mankind so. I’m sorry she felt so angry and alone. If I see her again, I’ll let her know, I’m here for her. Waiting to pat her arm, or hug her, or open-mouth kiss her on the lips, if she’ll let me. If you see her, do the same, okay? Just run up, and give her a big hug, and let her know that we’re all in this together. No need to wash your hands beforehand. It’s okay if they’re sticky or covered in mud. Just hug her. Tightly.

And then run like hell. Because she will eat you.

Full list of categories:  Dick Move » Random Musings
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Comments (109)

  1. 1
    Kristi says:

    I am giggling that you actually posted a picture of her. Seriously, she probably has bigger problems right now (or, one could hopefully assume that was it) and just shake if off. Hopefully you found a good cupcake after this traumatic experience!

  2. 2
    Helga says:

    Hah! I live in Aventura, about a two minute walk away from the mall. I could go on for hours about people like “Lego Store Lady” that I’ve run into around here, though I can’t quite provide pictures. :) The good news is that they’re the minority (barely) and they’ve restricted themselves to verbal abuse. No cannibalism… yet.

  3. 3

    My personal favorite: “Because Snuggle Club meets in FIVE MINUTES. And you’re the newest inductee.”

    With the emphasis on five minutes. Though the clap one is also pretty great.

    • 3.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Someone said it to me while drunk once, and it’s been welcomed into our everyday speech. He drunkenly stared at me and said, “You … me … SNUGGLE CLUB MEETS IN FIVE MINUTES.” I’ve never loved a stranger more than I did he.

  4. 4
    Belinda Adams says:

    I’ve been reading your blogs for a long time now, and you always bring a smile to my face.
    That woman you just wrote about reminds me of a witch here in my hometown of Seminole, OK.
    And I refer to her as “that fucking whore”. She will die alone someday, just as that woman that yelled at you will too.

  5. 5
    mendifae says:

    Long time stalker…ummm, reader…but first time commenting. I HAD to comment because I have the same thoughts at least twice a week! How can we be so mean to each other and survive? Some people are just cruel – thank God there are more kind ones than cruel ones though! Hopefully someone she knows will see this and tell her…can you imagine? And that last line…hilarious!!

    • 5.1
      Everywhereist says:

      The good news is that as soon as I start to lose my faith in humanity, someone restores it for me. Usually, my husband. :)

      • 5.1.1

        Had a moment like that – in a bathroom stale too … and you know what? A total stranger, a lovely, elegant older lady, who smelled SO good – just hugged me, kissed me on the forehead and said: (queue British accent) “Dahling … anyone who hurts you is just like a fly. Annoying, distracting … but not really important, they buzz …but you can swat.” I’ve never forgotten her … wish I had her photo … or a name. Not all strangers suck.

  6. 6
    Steven B says:

    Practice / Implement DAD face….No one will mess with you.

    • 6.1
      Everywhereist says:

      But … I’m not a dad! Is there an equivalent for a 30-something childless gal like myself? :)

      • 6.1.1
        Steven B says:

        Learn from the picture of you and your dad above – Dad Face = Fuck You Your Face = Hi, I have an ice cream cone..want some?..
        I guess the equivalent face in your 30-something childless gal head space would be called…BITCH FACE…:)

  7. 7
    Penny says:

    Snuggle Club? LOVE! I think I might use that with my kids the next time they are fighting.

    PS I am 1) a huge fan of this blog. It always makes me smile
    2) a big believer that when one wretched human gets you down, another will pick you back up again. Even if both people are complete strangers to you. It is one of the wonderful things about the world that we often forget.

    Keep up the fantastic work. Happy New Year!

  8. 8
    Dianna says:

    Well, we don’t know her story–can’t know from this brief encounter–what traumas she’s suffered or why she seems to come undone by human contact.

    That said, in the moment, I’m pretty sure I would have snarked something about ‘adjusting her meds’. Or ‘Gzus lady, ever heard of ONLINE shopping–same deals, no human contact required’.

    Anyway, this FL native (ha!) is glad NYC charmed you once again.

    Happy travels.

  9. 9
    Melanie says:

    This made me laugh so hard. Then it touched me because we do so often get set off by someone like Lego store lady, but really it’s about fifteen other things. I’m glad you’ve gotten to where you realize she is just a miserable human, or was having a miserable day. I really try to be empathetic when I come across people like her, but mostly I make one of the comments in the moment, like you thought of later. Because I’m never at a loss for words. I’m sure most people wish I was more often. Problem is I generally feel bad for them ten minutes after I do it and want to apologize. Sometimes I don’t get that opportunity. So really I just try and bite my tongue.

  10. 10
    Corey says:

    “WHY ARE YOU STILL TOUCHING ME?”
    “shhhh…. this exorcism is never going to work if you keep distracting me!!”
    Here is food for thought: You could murder someone and not have as harsh of a sentence that life has obviously condemned her to live. We get one shot at making our life something worth living and she obviously she has blown it. Just remember come tomorrow morning when she wakes, she will still be miserable…and the day after that FOREVER. What a shitty existence.

    • 10.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Oh, crap. I just died a little. Exorcism. Tee-hee.

      And you are SO right, Corey. I often think about this when I deal with really awful people: the worst punishment that life has given them is that they have wake up every day and be who they are. It’s an awful fate. And, funnily enough, entirely up to them as to whether or not they will change it.

  11. 11
    Janet T says:

    It is a testament to your writing skills, that even as I read of your encounter with what was obviously a wild boar (bore?), and your ensuing trauma, I was smiling. Keep the faith, G!

  12. 12
    Dawn Shepard says:

    I can attest that the Nordstrom bathroom is a really great place to loose it. My mom was visiting Seattle but not staying with me. I was to meet her and my Uncle and Aunt at the downtown Nordstrom. After the stress of driving and finding parking downtown on a Saturday, and the anxiety of seeing me mom for the first time in a year, I showed up at Nordstrom a nervous wreck and decided to take shelter in the bathroom to pull myself together. I started crying in the stall and apparently opened an emotional door and couldn’t stop. I eventually managed to get myself out of the stall and before I could leave the bathroom I started crying again. I shuffled into the Lounge where a woman was breast feeding and found a chair in the corner and sat down. I was still crying. The cleaning lady saw me but didn’t say anything. She left the lounge and returned with a roll of toilet paper that she place in front of me. I said, “thank you.” It was the nicest gesture. I texted my mom to meet me in the bathroom and that’s where I saw my mom for the first time in a year, the Nordstrom bathroom, crying my eyes out.

    • 12.1
      Everywhereist says:

      “Opened an emotional door” – that is such a GREAT way of putting it. And it’s so true – once the rivers start flowing, there’s no stopping it.

  13. 13
    Ryan Cox says:

    Your writing never ceases to amaze me with how clear of a picture it paints, and how imaginative of a story it recalls. You have a gift Geraldine, a wonderful gift. Thanks for sharing. And for the record: have the comebacks prepped next time. I’m sure your godson wouldn’t mind having the rimshot ready on the drumset. =)

  14. 14
    Nicole says:

    Did we ever stop to think that maybe the Lego Store Lady doesn’t even have kids that like legos? Maybe she wasn’t even shopping for Christmas gifts? Maybe that Mean Old Lego Store Lady just wanted to buy thousands of legos in order to build a large lego wall around her body so, finally, people would stop touching her?

    You were, innocently, the last lego straw…..

  15. 15
    TheOtherLisa says:

    I would so join a snuggle club with you Geraldine…and then bake you a big warm chocolate chip cookie. And then make some for everyone that commented on this post above me.

  16. 16
    Erica says:

    1. Your father is awesome. I can hear Ralph going,”My ice cream tastes like burning!”

    2. I suffer from crowd claustrophobia. Bad. I can’t stand to be touched by strangers. She’s a bitch for yelling at you, no doubt. If I see her I’ll throw down on your benefit. But there are plenty of people like me that fear crowds and she may have lashed out from fear rather than evil. Of course, since I fear crowds I don’t put myself in situations (like the Lego store during the holidays) where I will freak out. I love online shopping.

    3. The only place I’m not afraid of crowds? New York City. New York has some of the most polite, orderly crowds.

  17. 17
    Laura says:

    I hope SO BADLY that that woman reads this site just for the sake of hilarity. I find that happening so often to myself, where someone will say something mean and shocking, and I will just walk away – not for the sake of being the bigger person (something I rarely, if ever, am capable of being), but just because I’m shocked and so taken aback. Now I’m sort of wishing I had this type of forum just to let people know that just because I walked away, doesn’t mean they got away with it!

    …not that I’m vindictive or anything…

  18. 18
    Jen says:

    Not only do you have the greatest blog; based on these comments it appears you also have the greatest blog-readers. Ever. :)

  19. 19
    adrienne says:

    I love this post! It might be my favorite blog post of all time. Definitely timely for me as the holidays have that lovely and painful mixture of heart-melt and crush. Thank you. Well said on a number of counts.

  20. 20
    Celeste says:

    LOVE this post. People need to get over themselves.

  21. 21
    meg says:

    seeeeeeesh. that lady needs a wake up call. it’s like you punched her in the face or something. i’m sorry.

  22. 22
    Gianluca says:

    You missed this: “May I snap your face?”.

    • 22.1
      Everywhereist says:

      OMG. Dying over here, Gianluca. You know Rand and I say that to each other all the time, right? :)

  23. 23
    Jeff Sliger says:

    Your dad is my new hero. I practice looking that icy when I’m giddy with excitement. It makes people a little afraid to make eye contact or make stupid comments as this small minded woman did.
    The look says, “Yes I’m eating ice cream but I may still be hungry when I’m done so by all means hang around within arms reach.” I LOVE it.

  24. 24
    Carolyn says:

    >>I was crying because life can be incredibly sweet and fragile and unbearable and we can’t do a damn thing about it. And it’s so fucking short.

    Okay, so I enjoy your humor. You make me laugh, and I like that. But there are lots of funny people out there. What makes your writing great is that you can do humor and The Meaning of Life all at the same time. I liked Erma Bombeck, back in the day. (Yes, I’m That Old. –But let me say I was a *very* young child at the time. Did I mention I learned to read when I was four?) She was a humorist who also did The Meaning of Life, but she did them in separate columns. I love how you can do them together.

    (Do you give lessons?)

  25. 25
    Meg B says:

    What a bitch! I hate when people take out their terrible days or bad attitudes or whatever on innocent bystanders. Thank goodness there are other people who help restore our faith in humanity.

    Also, if your dad makes that face while eating ice cream what does he look like when he’s mad?!?!

  26. 26
    Jessica says:

    Some advice I got once….all of us are doing the best we can. Both as an act of forgiveness to the crazy Lego store lady and yourself for not being the perfect wife/friend/human. We are all just doing the best we can, sometimes we are able to do it better than other times.

    Thanks for such a beautiful post!

    • 26.1
      Everywhereist says:

      I love that! My own personal take is quite similar. Whenever someone does something that I’m not entirely happy with, I just say, “It’s good enough.” We don’t have to be perfect – just good enough. :)

    • 26.2
      Bryan says:

      Jessica, that’s so wonderful. I also try to be my best and care for and love the diversity in others as long as they are not mean. Yes we make mistakes and should but an intentional bitch in a Lego store; sorry, and she will never read this, good luck in life bitch.

  27. 27
    Karen says:

    I loved this post, really, I was laughing and laughing at your would-be responses to the woman. Until I came to the one about her being Jewish. I thought totally unnecessary.

    • 27.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Karen – I was merely using it as a descriptor, and not as a derogatory comment (and, for the record, it was not her appearance that suggested her ethnicity, but the two little boys wearing yarmulkes who were calling her “mom”, and the star of David necklace she was wearing that tipped me off). Interestingly enough, when she got mad at me in the first place, it was because I was pointing out a Lego menorah to my husband, who is, in fact, Jewish.

      Make of that what you will. I don’t think it’s inherently offensive to mention someone’s ethnicity. Especially when, say, I’m telling her that she’s my type. :) (Jokingly, of course. My type happens to be male. And not mean.)

      • 27.1.1
        Rand says:

        I also find it offensive when you drink Manischewitz wine and sing Hanukkah songs with me and my grandparents.

        • 27.1.1.1
          Everywhereist says:

          In all fairness, Manischewitz is offensive to anyone with tastebuds. And my singing is offensive to anyone with eardrums.

      • 27.1.2
        Karen says:

        I wanted to clarify my point, because it seems to have been slightly missed. This post is about smearing someone because they made you feel badly. Albeit you did it lightheartedly and jokingly. Until you put up her picture, which made it personal, then when you mentioned her ethnicity/religion, which made it simply inappropriate. The fact that you are married to someone who is Jewish is irrelevant. It was also irrelevant to mention her ethnicity. I’m sure you would have (or should have) thought twice about mentioning it if she were black, Native American or even Muslim. As someone with such a following, you have a responsibility. This post is really shameful, and I feel embarrassed for you and for this woman.

        • 27.1.2.1
          Everywhereist says:

          Your disapproval to her picture is a new argument, and I’ll admit, it’s a fair one. It was a missed point, because this is the first time you’ve brought it up. That’s probably why it was missed. I’m many things, but I’ve always sucked at mind-reading. :)

          That being said, it’s fair to critique me for posting her photo. It was a decision I made, and I stand behind it and I’m willing to accept criticism for my decision. On that point, we will have to agree to disagree.

          Regarding the Jewish debate, again, I think my point is valid. Your initial comment is brief, and what I gleaned from it (correctly or not) is that I’m making a statement against Jews. At which point, stating that I’m married to a Jewish man is not at all irrelevant because it proves as a counterpoint to your claim about my biases. However, your point is now that I shouldn’t have mentioned any ethnicity at all. My response would be this: I think that if we view ethnicity as not being something on which we can judge someone on (imagine that!), and merely as a descriptor, then it is a neutral term, and not one we should fear mentioning. I may describe a friend as tall, well-dressed, and German. I may describe another friend as curly-haired, politically active, and Peruvian. Neither of these descriptions are negative unless you have a bias against Germans or Peruvians.

          As for that last line, don’t waste your time being embarrassed for me, darling. By your standards, you could easily spend a lifetime feeling shame on my account (hell, by lots of peoples’ standards, a lifetime of shame should be felt on my account). That’s just a bad use of your time, as I am sure you will agree. You are a smart woman – there are bigger battles you could be fighting. This is not one.

          And lastly, Karen, the post is about this: we’re all in this together. You, me, the woman in the store, thousands of other people. Jews, Native Americans, Muslims, Christians, Atheists. We’re all in it together. As such, I understand your points, your feelings, and your attempts to elevate the discussion on the blog. And I thank you sincerely for them. Thank you for being here, and for being you. :)

        • 27.1.2.2
          Hihankara says:

          Does this mean I’m being offensive when I wrap my arms around one of the older women in my volunteer group and hug her and thank her for being my Jewish mother? She gets a great big smile on her face and says “Everyone needs one!” but maybe she’s just being polite.

        • 27.1.2.3
          Katy says:

          Karen’s points are valid, but unfortunately her snarky tone of moral superiority really isn’t. and the humanity of Geraldine’s post more than makes up for any faux pas within it.

          • 27.1.2.3.1
            Everywhereist says:

            Thank you for the support, Katy! I’m really grateful when people critique my writing, because it encourages me to be a better person and a better human. I just like it when they discuss it with me rather than scold me. :) I think Karen’s heart is in the right place, and she does make some valid points (and some irrelevant ones).

        • 27.1.2.4
          Noah's Dad says:

          I just wanna know one thing…….when and where does the hugging start…?!!?!?

    • 27.2
      Bret says:

      It was later revealed that “Karen” is the lady in white.

  28. 28
    Lucas says:

    Amid brightly colored bricks of child-like glee and imagination, how can one be so dark and empty inside?
    One can not be unhappy around Lego. Irene and I visited the Art of the Brick exhibition in Sydney a few weeks ago where everyone walked out the exit smiling and energized.

    Has Rand seen the Optimus Prime Kreon? :D Uber cool.

  29. 29
    Cam says:

    Hah, you’re so much better a person than I am. If that was me and somebody reacted this way to my apology (and an involuntary soothing physical gesture), I’d just burst out laughing in her face and walk away. Because, obviously, she’s a miserable cow and all her bile and aggression will eat her up soon enough.

    Thank Rand for the photo – I’ll make sure to hug the sow really tight if I ever see her. And just in case, I’ll carry some melted chocolate in my bag (to apply to my hands before performing the loving assault). :P

  30. 30
    Katy says:

    Somewhere in Indiana, a woman who is much less intelligent and entertaining than Geraldine is probably telling a similar story about me, but I think my side of it is pretty compelling, so at the risk of likening myself to the Lego lady, I’ll share my side of it here. To sum up: I was at a grocery store pharmacy once, waiting for my prescriptions and looking intensely tired, pissed off, and/or sad (which I think is a pretty acceptable way to look at the pharmacy considering that you don’t normally need meds unless you’re sick and being sick is the opposite of a good time). Suddenly, a woman literally scooped me up in both arms and squeezed me so tight that our boobs felt like they were merging into one giant boob. Then she looked at me with genuine concern (Her face was so close to mine that all I could see were blurry teeth.) and said, “Honey, are you all right?” Now, normally I’m a pretty affectionate person, prone to touching people on the arm when I talk to them, etc., but this woman’s unexpected assault of good will actually ripped me out of a pretty fantastic daydream about Christmas in Italy and into the reality of being full-body hugged by a stranger. Without thinking at all I blurted out, “WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE YOU STOP TOUCHING ME FASTER?!” after which she let go of me and we both just stood there for a second. It was awkward, to say the least, but she sputtered something about me looking upset and in need of a hug and asked me if I was from New York, which was odd. (I was actually not far from my home town, and I told her so.) She talked at me for a minute about something I don’t recall while I stood there, staring at her with complete revulsion and contempt, wondering if I could ever forget the sensation of boob-merging with an old Hoosier. Eventually she apologized and walked away, looking visibly shaken. I wouldn’t be surprised if I wound up on her church prayer list for the evil gaze I subjected her to after the hug had ended. I just really didn’t want her to do it again.

    • 30.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Oh sweet heavenly father. That is hilarious and awful. But I feel like that’s a slightly different situation, given that there was no boob-merging in my scenario.

      I’m still cracking up over this. I’d probably have freaked, too. She should have said, “I’m so sorry – I thought you were my niece.” Then ran away. Quickly.

      • 30.1.1
        Katy says:

        Agree that the situation is different, but can you imagine how Lego Lady would have reacted to a full-body, boob-merging hug? I´m picturing a flail followed by a faint.

    • 30.2
      Annie says:

      i just guffawed, loudly, and spit my gum at my monitor (i’m at work!) when i read that. sweet jesus i think i’d be just as taken aback as you were.

      you are nothing like the lego lady!

  31. 31
    Jason says:

    Just discovered your site and I love the stories and the way that you write. It sounds like that lady had an uncle with some boundary issues at some point in her life.

  32. 32
    JoAnna says:

    “If we are able, as a species, to be so damn hostile to each other (in malls, in Lego stores, on battlefields, in marriages) HOW THE HELL WERE WE GOING TO MAKE IT?” – I think about this all the time. I know we’re all moving in our own little isolated circles, but the world is a big pond, and we’re all making little waves that bump into each other. Do you think that we wouldn’t appreciate the good, nice moments as much if we didn’t have the dick move moments too?

    • 32.1
      Noah's Dad says:

      Exactly,

      I was just telling @Everywheresit the a few weeks ago a few stories that blew my mind……

      For instance I have a site about my son…..MY ONE YEAR OLD SON…and you know what…people still find a way to hate on that….

      really?!?!?!?! a cute, one year old kid?? You’re gonna hate on that….come on.

      I can give someone A LOT better stuff about my life to hate on than my 1 year old son……

      :)

  33. 33
    Cleo2670 says:

    First, how can anyone be unhappy in LegoLand? Second, I live in NYC (well the greater metro area which goes on for hours outside of Manhattan, which means it doesn’t matter where you live you can’t get away from NY’ers) actually I work in NYC. Third, I wish just once someone would say “so sorry, didn’t mean to shove you out of the way while I’m rushing for my train, or no really you can have that last bagel … The fact that she ‘jumped the shark’ on you in LegoLand is just wrong on so many levels. Personally I vote for “shhhh…. this exorcism is never going to work if you keep distracting me!!”

  34. 34
    Rick says:

    I’ve shared a link to this story on the official dick move website (http://dkmvs.com). I mean honestly, people like this should all be shipped to a very small island where they can either learn to be comfortable with their fellow people or go for a swim with the sharks :)

  35. 35
    Tim in MA says:

    When you wrote “I gently patted her arm”, I cringed. It never ceases to shock me how some people are comfortable with touching complete strangers while others find it disturbing, like myself. I know that others are oblivious to the discomfort they can cause so I would not react in the way this woman did. I would just grin and bear it, but inside I would be screaming “WHY IS THIS PERSON TOUCHING ME!”.

    My friends and coworkers know about this phobia of mine but I tell them NOT to restrain from touching me. I need to learn to accept behavior that most people find socially acceptable. It is actually funny when they see me trying not to cringe when someone unconsciously grabs my arm or puts their hand on my shoulder. Occasionally, after someone is touching for more than a few seconds, I will blurt out “Okay, that’s enough. I’m looking for baby steps not a breakthrough.”. That gets the biggest laugh.

    This person obviously needs to lighten up. On the other hand, when someone gives you an evil look, it is best to apologize and walk away. When a dog growls at you, you don’t pat its head. The metaphor fits in this case because she was obviously a bi …

    • 35.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Tim – okay, the last line made me giggle, a lot. Props to you for being so open about your phobia. I could just hug you! I won’t, though. I promise. Maybe I can pat your arm, though? :)

  36. 36
    Skippy says:

    I third the “exorcism” line – mostly because it is offensive on so many levels. Now, that isn’t to say I am a “tit for tat” or an “eye for an eye” kind of gal, but to be that rude in a Lego store is just wrong. It’s like tripping Mickey at Disneyland. There is no reason for it. She deserves a little of her own medicine right back, not that she would even notice.

  37. 37
    jamie says:

    God, how I feel you.

    Months ago, I bumped into someone I knew and liked in the library, and I chatted with him loudly and animatedly. Unfortunately, I did this within earshot of the Periodical Reading Room (cue scary music), where the cranky old people reside. Some of them might be Jewish. Many are Chinese. A few seem frankly schizophrenic.

    One of them (Caucasian, sane, and wearing a Stanford sweater) came out and chastised me. I IMMEDIATELY conceded that he was right and apologized sincerely. Whereupon he refused to accept my apology and continued his tirade for something like 90 mortifying seconds. Awkwardly the whole episode culminated with his saying, “I feel I know you intimately!” (apparently I was over-sharing) and my protesting that *to my certain knowledge*, he did not know me intimately. And so on.

    In the end, I had to skulk away, whispering “You’re absolutely right!” and “I’m so sorry!” over my shoulder because he just wasn’t stopping. I’m really having a hard time putting the whole thing behind me, as this comment proves conclusively.

  38. 38
    Clark says:

    I’ll tell you why all the New Yorkers are so nice, the assholes moved to South Florida, which is why I left Florida. You see, once you become an ass, it’s mandatory you move to South Florida. Well, really most of Central Florida down. LOL That said, I use to tell my employees, at a few of the restaurants I once managed, that if anyone was so rude or obnoxious to them that they should say something back to them. I asked them to say something, in a voice nobody else around could here, that was so nasty and vile that nobody at corporate would ever believe if the person reported it. I know that wasn’t very nice of me, but I knew it would make the employees happy knowing that they at least had the option to express their anger. No one ever had to do it and, in part, I think it was just because they knew they could and were better people for it because they didn’t. Stay friendly my friends. :-)

    • 38.1
      Annie says:

      “the assholes moved to South Florida, which is why I left Florida. You see, once you become an ass, it’s mandatory you move to South Florida.”

      YES.

  39. 39
    Jeanette says:

    oh my god! i am going to write your responses on my hand everyday( cause thats how often I need them) so i can be prepared for the next time i get yelled at in a store! my favorite and most blankly odd one was when an elderly german told me i seemed to be not as stupid as i looked and then asked me to marry him? it was strange.

  40. 40
    Erin says:

    I’ve read through most of your archives, and this is my FAVOURITE post, because who hasn’t felt like that once in a while? Happens to me all the time. One asshole sets me off to thinking about everything wrong in the world, and then I look around and think maybe everything isn’t so doomed after all. This is the reason I love your blog, because it’s so human, and humans are imperfect. We do strange things, can be assholes sometimes and cry for no reason (or for many reasons that we wouldn’t have cried about before but tears just erupted from something silly) Keep writing!!!

  41. 41
    Jessie says:

    2 Things:

    1. In all my visits to NYC I’ve only once had an encounter with an inexplicably rude person/tourist, and he was from Florida. Strange…

    2. This is my first time reading your blog, this is the first post, and you have already made me feel so much better, particularly about a certain time I lost it in a Costco parking lot (why can’t these things wait for a more convenient location?) for similarly justifiable reasons. I felt awkward then, and considered giving myself a good slap to the face while yelling “Pull yourself together, you stereotypical female!” Knowing that others have these moments as well makes me feel better. Glad I found your blog, now on to the “follow” button!

    • 41.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Aw, thanks for the kind words, Jessie. Knowing I’m not alone made me feel tons better, too (we all have inopportune freak-outs, it seems). And , to boot, it sounds like you did exactly what I did – picked on yourself for losing it. Why do we add insult to injury? Someone makes us feel bad, and then we make ourselves feel worse. Next time, I’m just going to shove ice cream in my face until I feel better. :)

  42. 42
    Annie says:

    should have asked her who lit the fuse on her tampon, so you could do her the favor of kicking them in the face…

    • 42.1
      Bryan says:

      Not to be redundant, but such great writings. In Minneapolis they have a Lego display that’s like a castle, no s***.

      The Mall of America, what a name. However children enjoy the Lego playground, and maybe the chilren don’t like bitches in their Lego playground.

  43. 43
    Julie says:

    As I started reading this my initial reaction was shock…I couldn’t believe this women acted this way. Then you went on and posted her picture and I started feeling sorry for her. What makes a person miserable? What happened in her life to make her like that and is it all her falut? What happened in the course of her day to make her react that way?
    I mean isn’t part of your point here that people have lost their humanity a little? Isn’t your point that people don’t feel connected anymore, aren’t friendly and neighborly and compassioante and forgiving? That’s the message I was receiving.
    SO I guess my question is…if I could reflect in the course of reading this and go from horror that a person would act this way to compassion for a person who would react like that…then how is it that you couldn’t have compassion for her after relfecting on the incident? Is that friendly? neighborly? comapssionate? forgiving? Aren’t you defeating your purpose here?

    • 43.1
      Vicky says:

      I think Geraldine did – upon reflection and that aha moment in NYC – feel compassion for the woman when she realized that we’re all in this together. That was kind of the whole point of her post; at least, that’s what I got out of it. I think Geraldine deserves to reserve a little speck of spite, though. No matter how bad your life is, you don’t have the right to treat someone else like sh*t.

      • 43.1.1
        Kelly says:

        Clearly this woman’s response was rude and out of proportion to the situation. However, I think it’s also worth pointing out that some people just don’t like to be touched by strangers. I’m that way, in part as a result of traumatic incidents in my past. I’ve snapped at people who grab me or otherwise put their hands on me unexpectedly. Normally I stick to “Please don’t touch me”, and I try not to be difficult.

        I think, in the spirit of compassion, it’s worth extending a little kindness to this woman, because we don’t know why she doesn’t want to be touched, and what emotions this seemingly innocent contact may have inspired in her.

    • 43.2
      Yoyo says:

      Agreed. Why take a stealth photo of the woman and then post about it on the internet? Have a real conversation, or confrontation with the woman voicing your concern right then and there. Don’t post it on your blog which is obviously going to be biased towards you.

  44. 44
    katie Evans says:

    I’m so sorry that mean angry women unfortunately dragged you into her gloomy day/life. No one should ever act like that. Just so you know I do the same thing…I can’t come up with any good comebacks in the moment but later as I’m laying in bed I cam come up with about 20 of the best one-liners ever. :)

  45. 45
    G Aiello says:

    I live in South Florida and that is a common everyday thing. Not everyone, but a good amount of the people here are nasty and miserable. I’ll probably never understand why. Like the pizza and bagels from the north, it must be something in the water.

  46. 46
    Tanya says:

    Is that a mullet? No wonder she’s upset with the world! Though a bad hair day is in no way an excuse to be so. rude.

  47. 47
    chillman says:

    This is the first post I’ve read, after seeing your blog listed under Time’s 25 Best Blogs of 2011…
    (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2075431_2075447_2075474,00.html)
    I know it sounds kinda weird, but I hope this is the worst of your posts.
    Because then I will THOROUGHLY enjoy my subscription to your mailing list.
    The whole thing was written in such a conversational tone, I couldn’t help but LOVE IT!

  48. 48
    Lois says:

    If ever we meet anonymously, feel free to gently pat my forearm while needlessly apologizing for some thing you didn’t even do! That chick was a SUPER dick. (if a chick could be a dick but that is for another post).
    It satisfied me to read the real reason for your tears was not the boorish behavior of an ill mannered stranger.

  49. 49
    Calin says:

    Tuning everything else out and focusing on the dad picture, I’d say you jumped to a conclusion :). When in doubt, test. Test your dad with:

    - no ice cream
    - two ice creams
    - a different person behind the camera (a gorgeous woman, for instance)

    You’ve got at least 5 more tests to run :).

  50. 50
    mich says:

    i fucking loved this.

  51. 51
    Sami says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think it’s kind of a “dick move” to post a photo of a stranger (one whose own personal situation and struggles you know nothing of). But, then again, I’m also the type who doesn’t like strangers touching me. Shrug.

  52. 52
    Paulo says:

    Touch is the most primitive form of trust, it’s ingrained in us before birth. I love traveling in countries where people touch… Italy…Vietnam. Although my friends hug, I find a lot less of it when I come back the U.S. In fact, as a soccer coach, we’ve been recently advised by the state administrator we should not to touch our players.

  53. 53
    Debbie says:

    This is a great read. It sort of validates what I did in a situation in Gap..

    trying to leave the store with my son in his buggy . the space between the till and a table with clothes was quite tight and even though I could get through I could have potentially touched a lady who was paying and possibly could have passed the wheels of the buggy over this middle age lady’s shopping bags which she had thrown on the floor as she paid.

    Me trying to be polite said “sorry just trying to get through..would you mind..” at which point she interrupted, looked at me like dirt and said “I am paying here”

    In my mind I though I’d explain why it would be worth her while to just move that bag on the floor by perhaps a couple of inches in case it got caught by the buggy or something so then I say in the most apologetic way “oh its just that I might step over your bags..”

    To which she replied “Can’t you see I am busy here go and find another way out of the store, its not my problem”

    Whilst shoked by her rudeness I simply said to her in a very calm way ” then fuck you stupid cow ” and I passed those wheels over her shopping bag…

    I could hear the gasps but justt kept my head high feeling proud that for the first time every I was able to come out with a clever response to someone’s nastiness…

  54. 54
    Bryce says:

    Lol. You just got a new reader because of this huge life lesson that you got from a trip to the lego store and some bitchy old lady. That is something I would do. Great read. +1 ego boost for you.

  55. 55
    KamiKaze says:

    I live in Orlando and these unhappy people are everywhere. They are a small percentage of the population, but are so dark, like black hole dark, that they leave a lasting impression. Public displays of unhappiness expressed as rage against random shoppers seems to be commonplace, especially in places like Miami (Aventura) and Orlando where there are huge populations. And it only gets worse during the holidays or right before a hurricane where these dark, evil people generally revert back to the savages that they are. I used to work with a bunch of them, who came to work to victimize their fellow employees for the crime of smiling too much (?) and I coined the slogan, “people without empathy eat those with it”, which I used to whisper under my breath when I just wanted to scream at one of them. Fortunately, I am usually the witness to these encounters rather than the victim.

    I am planning a move to Portland or Seattle, which is how I stumbled on your blog. I think living in the Northwest would be better for my mental health. I’m sick of the sweltering heat, the unhappy people, but mostly the heat! Don’t get me wrong, there are very sweet people here, but throw in an afternoon storm coupled with a traffic jam, a slow moving grocery store line or a person taking too long to exit their parking space and the sweetness turns to savagery in a heartbeat.

  56. 56
    Alana Aida says:

    Your observations are spot on. New Yorkers are apparently the most polite in the world…

    http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/relationships/how-polite-are-we

  57. 57

    If a stranger touches me, he loses the hand. There’s something called personal space and extends as long as my arm + fist extends. If someone I don’t know gets into that space, he’s not coming in peace! There’s no reason for a stranger to invade my personal space… unless unintentionally, in a crowded place.

    The real world is not only nice people. And I don’t mean that she was not nice. She might have had past experiences that justified the reaction. You should not touch strangers [especially of the same gender ;) - hint]… for your own sake :) Everybody judges situations based on their experiences, not based on you. They don’t know you…

    This is the real world. It’s not nice…

  58. 58
    Bridget says:

    Hi there Geraldine! I know this post is a bit older, but I just came across it for the first time and wanted to write you a little message.

    First off, as a member of the South Florida community, I’d like to apologize for the way that woman acted. South Florida has quite the reputation as far as manners can go, but I’d like to assure you that there are good people down here, though they may be a bit less assertive. My parents, my boyfriend, and both of our sets of parents are all native Floridians, so we have definitely seen our fair share of this sort of nonsense. If you (bravely) decide to come down here again, perhaps you could join us for some homemade lasagna and chocolate chip cookies, so you can have a happy memory of us SoFla peeps too!

    Great post, as always! :-D

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