Dear Walmart Cashier,
Last week during school vacation, my daughters, 13 and 18 and I were at your store for some groceries. It was a very crowded, busy day there and we had to wait quite a while for our turn to check out. When we got to you, you and I made the typical small-talk that I’m sure you make with dozens of customers every day. The weather, meat prices, etc.
While I was loading our groceries in the cart, you leaned over to me and whispered something under your breath. Not sure I heard you correctly, I said, “Say that to me again?” and you,
moron, did. You said, “I’m used to seeing kids do that.” I knew exactly what you meant, but I wanted to hear you say it. “Do what, exactly?” I said. “Kids should load the groceries in the cart, not the adult” was your answer. An icy calm descended on me as I felt my heart-rate slow, and you’re lucky it did. I’ve dealt with people like you for the last 18 years and thought the worst of the busybodies were behind me. Let me tell you a few things.
One, as an employee on the clock, hell, even as just a stranger, what gives you the right to imply anything to me about my children or my parenting? They’re well-dressed, polite, impeccably behaved young adults who are a GD JOY to be around. Because what you were implying was that my kids were too spoiled or too lazy to help me put groceries in the cart. That’s kid’s work, apparently..too lowly for a big, important grown-up like me? Right?
Two, if you had been paying attention, what you would have noticed is that I have an adult child with a severe disability. While she’s not in a wheelchair and often looks like any other girl her age, she’s globally affected by autism and had barely held it together during our trip to your store and the lengthy check-out.
Three, my 13 year old, without my asking…I don’t think she’s even aware that she does it anymore…automatically takes her sister up to the front of our cart and keeps her occupied while I’m checking out. She shows her babies, pretty outfits, other shoppers. She tells her sister that we’re almost done, asks her her to show her what she picked for a treat, a litany of nonsensical distractions to help us avoid a meltdown after a shopping trips that are like running a sensory gauntlet for her sister. She does this instead of oh, I don’t know..putting groceries in the cart.
Why you felt the need to share your undoubtedly expert child-rearing opinions with a perfect stranger, I don’t know. What I do know is that you’re lucky that I didn’t pull out my phone, call Walmart’s corporate office and ask when your store started having employees offer parenting tips to special needs families.
So my answer to you, “We do things a certain way in our family, is that a problem for you?”, was a short and sweet version of what you would have gotten if there weren’t a long line of people waiting behind us to check out and I didn’t have a kid who had already had enough. Starting with a lesson on autism, people with disabilities that aren’t always visible and ending with a lesson in having enough common sense not to comment on a stranger’s parenting, special needs or not.
A mom who has had enough of clueless people offering unwarranted and unwelcome advice and opinions.