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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Rudest, Most Unsolicited Advice You Have Ever Received

Although I prefer pen names or John Hancocks, I welcome anonymous posts for this topic: Have you ever received completely unsolicited advice from someone, stranger or not, that was so rude that you have yet to come up with that snappy comeback? If so, feel free to share.

I'm slow with the comebacks, since they aren't really my style. But, usually when I receive really, really rude advice, I brush it off and think up a snappy comeback in my head an hour or two later that makes me feel better. Not so with this unsolicited, and downright rude, advice.

So here is my story:
I'm in a well known health food store, standing at the checkout line with only one child. And, I'm visibly expectant. Yes, just one child, not 4, or 5, or 6 children. But, as you will see, I hope the rude lady that I met never has occassion to meet anyone passing through with a large number of children in tow!

Said child is being just a cutie-pie and we are having a fun time together. We are joking around and giggling together quietly, when he turns to the lady in line next to us and says with a big smile, "oh, you are buying bananas." I'm not sure if it was a statement or a question. This kid is really inquisitive and observes everything. The lady then asks him if he would like to hold the banana, and I smile and politely tell her, that we will pass on her kind offer, since we would prefer her banana stay in one piece (another story, possibly for another time).

So after this very brief and friendly exchange, the lady says to me: "You should get your tubes tied." I just stammered, "huh." And, she repeats herself, "You should get your tubes tied now." Then she goes on to explain that it is best to have your tubes tied while you are pregnant and how I better have this procedure done NOW.

Whoa! I've never met this lady at all and she is telling me this. Talk about invasive. Talk about rude. Talk about personal. And, talk about unsolicited advice. I probably turned as white as a piece of typing paper. I just looked away and got myself through the checkout as quickly as possible. (I hope I said thank you to the nice clerk at the checkout).

Fortunately, on the way out of the parking lot I met an Israeli lady and her husband who was a real Savta type. She was entertained by my son's renditions of Shabbat that she had witnessed throughout the store. She wasn't the only one. :) She wished me nachat, hatzlacha, mazal, beracha, and a b'sha'a tovah and shared with me that her daughter-in-law was due with twins at any minute. I was briefly uplifted after my previous exchange. We shared in her excitement, and wished her a happy life as a new Savta.

But, a week later, I still cannot shake the most rude experience I have ever had with a stranger in my life and there is no snappy comeback to wipe away the shock of the experience. I'm just glad that my son was able to share in the excitement of a soon-to-be Savta and had no idea that there are people out there that just hate life so much that the mere image of a mother with children makes them unable to control themselves.

Feel free to share your terrible experiences involving completely unsolicited advice.

33 comments:

aishel said...

At the doctors office with my wife and child: "Oh, your baby is only a month old? You should try to have another baby right away, its best to have them one after the other!"

debka_notion said...

I had one encounter where a woman I'd never met before told me that if I didn't go for both ordination and a PhD (the two degrees that I'm considering, and have indeed considered doing both), and chose to use the lesser amount of schooling-time (hardly a small amount no matter which way I go) to marry and start a family, I'd end up divorced and a miserable single mother.

BubbyT said...

how horribly rude. May you have an easy pregnancy and delivery b'shaa tova.

Itzik_s said...

What a yachne! I could comment about how HER mother should have used contraception...

queeniesmom said...

Bshah Tovah! May you continue to have lots of joy, love and laughter in your life!
Obviously the person in question doesn't, so don't let her sour disposition infect your sunny one.

Unfortunately pregnancy and having young children seems to make people think "you" will welcome their opinions, comments and touching of you or your child. I always wanted one of those zapper fields around me to zap the next person who tried to touch me or my kids. Having twins seems to invite many comments. It's gotten top the point that all my kids eyes glaze over. Yes horror of horrrors I do have more than the twins!

Just keep going and realize "she" should have been the poster child for retro birthcontrol. Also smile sweetly and say " you don't say, I never thought of that". It usually unnerves them. Another good line is "I'll take it underadvisement. How kind of you to think of me." Either one usually stopped the person because thes idiots don't expect comments.

All the very best. Mazal Tov.

The Tzionisher Rebbe said...

V'ahavta lerei'acha kamocha. Love you neighbor as yourself. Even if the love is not returned, and it's more difficult. There are rude people in the world, and we can learn from them how not to be rude to others. Hopefully our love for them will help them to learn to love.

B'sha'a tova. May you have only nachas from your children, as many as you choose (or Hashem chooses for you) to have.

The Rebbe

the rebbe's shamas said...

Every time the Rebbe reads your blog, he smiles. Evidently, he finds pleasure in what you write.

The Rebbes Shamas

aishel said...

BTW, there's a famous story with Rabbi Frand (?) where he was once flying through Germany to get to Israel and he got into this conversation with a German who said, "what is it with Jews and children? Why do they have like 12 kids apiece?" Rabbi Frand supposedly responded, "I'll get back to you when we make six million more kids."

Ezzie said...

Woah. Sorry, I don't think I've EVER heard anything that rude.

B'sha'a Tova!

MRN said...

B'shaa tova! Believe me, I've gotten tons of similar comments when I'm out with my crew ("are they *all* yours?"). A snappy come back to almost anything is "don't you hate it when you are thinking something and you accidently say it out loud?" or "you do realize you just said that out loud don't you?"

On a slightly different topic, don't you hate it when strangers touch your children without permission? Last week my daughter was at a dance class where the girls warm up on mats. Some of the girls share mats, since there aren't enough. When my daughter sat on one of the shared mats, the little girl went crying to her mommy, who stood up, went over to my daughter, lifted her under her armpits with her fingers around my daughter's pectoral muscles/nipples (a little too young to have breasts) and lifted her onto another mat. When I said "please don't touch my daughter without permsission" the other mom was outraged and said "she didn't seem to mind".

Huh?

Anonymous said...

That line you attributed to R Frand is quite famous and well-known. He didn't make it up.

R Shragi Neuberger was once in a store in Baltimore and someone asked him the famous line, Are these ALL your kids, and he answered, nope, I left 6 at home. :)

mother in israel said...

There's a mother of one in the local park who asked me if my youngest will be my last child. In a negative way, as in, "You're not planning on having any more, are you?" Whenever I saw her she continued to hint that I have too many children, along with other personal comments. I finally said that she seemed to have a problem with some of the decisions I have made. That was the end of that discussion.

Jack's Shack said...

Some people lack common sense.

Irina Tsukerman said...

Unbelievable. I'm not one for snapbacks, but I AM one for responding with the exactly the opposite of what rude people are hoping to hear. For instance, when someone asks me (not in a joking way), "why would a nice girl like you want to be a lawyer? You're going to be miserable and you'll never be able to have a family" - I tell them exactly why I'm going into law, and that no, I'm not about to change my mind. I think these unsolicited advisors like taking aim at people who they think aren't confident about their decisions or too shy to insist on their rightness of their own decisions for themselves.

SephardiLady said...

Thanks for all the nice wishes everyone. May we all have only simchas. :)

Ariella said...

Of course, the woman was way out of line. One really lousy thing about being visibly pregnant is that everyone knows what state you're in and feel free to comment on it. As I carried very big, people always thought I was further along than I actually was or even asked if I was carrying twins (I wasn't) But you know that as Americans tend to have only 2 kids, (I've even read of mothers who contemplate aborting an accidental third pregnancy) she probably took it as a given that you would not have any more and was just suggesting what she believes would be the most convenient method. I would be horrified myself to hear such a thing, but from this distance, I would guess that was what she was thinking.

pobody's nerfect. said...

one of my teachers in seminary told us a (famous?) story of an obviously chareidi man who was being provoked by an obviously chiloni (and anti-chareidi) person. "Why do you have eleven children? It's too many! You can't possibly love each one the same... etc." The frum man whipped out his wallet and held up a picture of his family. "Okay. Show me which one I shouldn't have had."
'Nuff said.

Jewboy said...

Situations like that are what guns were created for, Sephardilady.

HaSefaradi said...

SL:

When we were making hospital arrangemens last year in preparation for the arrival of our first daughter, the representatve informed us that she'd "throw in" a btl
for a certain figure. Dumbstruck, my wife and I just looked at each other; we had never cosidered such a thing. We demurred and she offered a better price! Perhaps she sold cars previously.

B'sha'a tova and mazal buena.

Ariella said...

That's incredible that the hospital would deal in that way. You should have aske that the same percentage should be taken off your charges for the hospital delivery. ;-)

MDmom said...

after the birth of my daughter, 17 months after the birth of my son, i got two similarly rude comments within the span of a month -- the first one by the lactation consultant in the hospital! i had a picture of my precious son on my nightstand which she noticed and asked me about. when i told her that it was indeed my son she remarked,"so now that you have one of each, you have your perfect family. you're done!"

*blink*

i had no response.

Scraps said...

[speechless]

Of all the nerve!

SephardiLady said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who has run into people with no class.

HaSephardi. . .thanks for the mazal buena. A semana buena to you. :)

Esther said...

SephardiLady, I am so sorry that you had this experience. Since you asked for other stories - a mom in my son's class is expecting her fourth (and not having an easy pregnancy). She was at a meal with acquaintances and one of them said, "Haven't you looked into birth control?" And the remark was made in front of other people. There is only one other ruder remark I can think of someone telling me about, and it is not my story but marykaygal might choose to post it. I personally can't think of anything on the caliber of what this person said to you (and we've had a lot of rude things said to us.)

Anon for now said...

On the flip side, I have people tell me (not in person, so it is not an observation on figure) "Working on the next one now?"
That reminds me: Don't ever -- ever make the assumption that someone is pregnant and then remark on it -- even in the friendliest way possible. If you're wrong, you are embarrasing her, as well as yourself. That's happened to me in person. Any good combacks to "When is your baby due?" when it is not?

SephardiLady said...

Hi Anon for Now-
No good combacks. That is terrible.

It happened to me after my last pregnancy, but in a good way. I would have been mortified if I hadn't just given birth 5 days before. I still looked pregnant and I guess my neighbor hadn't seen me for 3 or 4 months.

Guess that there are plenty of stories out there. Oy!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I were at a concert fundraiser where my father was being honored and a friend of my father and his wife (prob 55-60 yrs old) came over and asked how our 6 month old baby was doing at home. After we responded that he was fine, the lady asked if my wife was pregnant again. I couldn't control myself ao I responded, "Nope she isn't but are you?" and then walked away

Ayelet said...

Ugh! Anon for now, I can totally relate! I can't tell you how many times someone has asked me if I'm pregnant recently (I'm not!). Mind you, I'm about a size 6 with some tummy flab from the other cuties. My 3 kids are about two years apart each, so people seem to think that I'm due for the next - they've already asked if I was done. During my second pregnancy, I was starting my seventh month, and, granted, I was rather large. A random guy (!) behind me at the pharmacy checkout commented, "Any day now, huh?" Um, no. But thanks for telling me I look like it. *shakes head* stupid people.

SL, your story totally takes the cake! Unbelievable! B'sha'a tova...:)

Chizki said...

Given that SL ran into her at a health food store, I'm going to guess that this lady who made the "get your tubes tied" comment is likely to be the sort of person with strong environmentalist tendencies whose gut reaction upon seeing a baby is not, "what a bracha!" but rather, "yet another child who will contribute to the developed world's unjustifiably large carbon footprint! How terrible!" I would venture to guess that, among secular, middle class/university-educated Americans, such an attitude is pretty common. Not that this justifies the lady's blatant rudeness in talking to SL like that...

SephardiLady said...

Chiziki--Welcome! My husband said the same thing. He said if this was to happen anywhere, it would have been a health food store.

Ari Kinsberg said...

you should have told her that perhaps her mother should have had her tubes tided. or that with herh attitude you hope she's had her's tied. or you could have responded with a question about her sex life or some other personal matter to shut her up.

i'm sorry for your discomfort in this store, but i'm not sure that her comments should have affected how you felt. (just be happy your kid was too young to understand.) she was an idiot and that is it. what it much worse is when people without kids are asked what they are waiting for. i think these comments are not as easy to shake.

Lanie said...

I know I'm chiming in a little late, here but one of the ruder comments I ever got was when I was doing a training session for a client. I was about 6 months pregnant and it was obvious that I was pregnant in maternity and all. Halfway through the day it dawned on my contact that I was pregnant and she says, "Oh.. you're PREGNANT!!! I thought you were just heavy!!"

Charnie said...

Wow, don't some people have a lot of chutzpah! In my case, it occurred when we were visiting an old friend from HS, whose (now ex) wife looks at me and says "how come you're not pregnent, don't YOU people have lots of kids?" Actually, the funny part of it was that at the time, she had 3 and I had 2. Up until a few years ago, I frequently was asked if I'm expecting because, admitedly, I'm no longer too slim.