Etiquette Is Your Friend When You Are Tempted To Behave Like An Idiot

by admin on April 14, 2011

My husband and I married when our financial circumstances were far less than what they are today. Therefore we had a wedding on a beer budget and while it was a lovely day, we cut a lot of corners. One of those was in our wedding band. I chose a very inexpensive, thin band that cost very little. Four years later, the band cracked and broke-possibly because I had insisted on wearing it throughout my recent pregnancy even as my fingers reached sausage-like proportions. Inexpensive or not, I was devastated as it was the ring that made me my husband’s wife and the sentimental value was far higher than the monetary one.

As things had improved for us financially, my husband wanted to buy me a nicer band and so we went to a jewelry store that, while a chain store, has a local reputation for being upscale and very customer service oriented. We were waited on by a wonderful older man who not only spent ample time showing us our options but also offered to repair my broken ring free of charge so that I could wear it on a chain and continue to keep it close. He was a wonderful sales person. However, his co-worker, in my opinion, deserves residency in e-Hell.

As I mentioned earlier, we had a young baby. We had her with us during the entire transaction. I do recall now hearing the lady behind the counter sniff loudly and even got a bit of a glare from her bit I assumed it was because I had brought my 2 month old into her store. I honestly understood her feelings and if I’d felt my daughter was being disruptive I would have left but she was asleep in her baby carrier the entire time we were in the store. It was only when I was trying on a few bands to decide the style I liked best that she made her true feelings known.

“Better late than never, huh?” She said. I wasn’t sure she was talking to me but when I looked up she was gesturing to my sleeping daughter. I was so shocked I said nothing but she continued, “No one seems to wait anymore. Oh well, guess you’re doing the right thing now.”

She wandered off, unaware of the stunned trio-myself, my husband and her co-worker-she’d left in her wake. If not for the excellent service the clerk who helped is had already supplied I would have left immediately. Whether or not my child-or anyone else’s- was born out of wedlock was not her concern. 0411-11

This is one of those situations in that while etiquette allows each person to have an opinion on a matter , following etiquette would have prevented the public revelation that the sales woman has a perverse predisposition for making incorrect presumptions.  Etiquette is your friend  when you tempted to behave like an idiot.

Unless one’s opinions are actively solicited regarding another person’s personal affairs,  there really is no good time to spew negative opinions about another person unbidden, particularly someone with which one has the barest of relationships.

{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Bint April 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

I’m surprised your husband didn’t say anything. Mine wouldn’t have let her get a step away for saying something like that to me. Yes, definitely complain, in writing if possible – describe her too.

Even when I’ve been left in tears after a particularly horrible version of this – like a dentist who went on and on about how ugly I was because of my teeth once – I have always made sure I have got an apology for it at least. In his case I rang him up. I was planning to spend thousands on my teeth. I told him I wasn’t having anything done by him, and why, and what I thought of his unprofessionalism. He was so mortified at having to apologise. I still wrote several appalling reviews of him on every website I found, but hey, I warned him. Hopefully I’ve spared another poor girl being made to cry by this arse. It’s never too late. Make that woman face the consequences of her actions.

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anonymous April 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

Totally inappropriate.

Even if the OP had been unmarried with a small child, that’s hardly a crime (though some people feel it’s immoral and they are entitled to their **unspoken** opinion). Even if they were only just then planning the wedding, it would still have been none of that clerk’s business.

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Enna April 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

I have a family member who was widowed when she had a 2 and a half year old and she was 3 months pregnant with her second child. At the hopsital just before she went into labour a doctor looked at her notes and said “we mustn’t let this happen again”. My relation burst into tears and the doctor was dragged off by a nurse, clearly to have a “constructive critisism chat.” My relation understands and accepts that her notes may have not been clear if it said something like “no father” and she says it could have been a langauge barrier issue as the health professional was foregin, she may not have meant it the way it came out. For all my relation and I know the doctor may have just been as upset about making her cry in the first place. The thing was it was dealt with by a collegue.

Even if a child is illigitmate what is wrong with that? The saleswoman was shocking – what do we do? Go to the bad old days of back street abortions or banging up women whave illigitmate children in mental homes and sending their children off to orphangages? That’s not going to achieve anything. From what I know about Christ’s teachings he always had time for children “let the children come to me.”

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Michelle P April 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Thank you all again for your kind words. It was hurtful; that was my first prenatal appointment for my new pregnancy and I was looking forward to it so much. The doctor was elderly and has since retired. I did speak to my new care provider about it later, and she was shocked, but knew exactly what I was talking about. You know it’s bad when medical colleagues agree that a doctor is awful. He recently passed away; I still hear from people who agreed he had no bedside manner.

Thank you all again; I still can’t laugh about it, but it’s not hurtful anymore. Love the site, admin!

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Michelle P April 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

Thank you all again for your kind words. It was my first prenatal appointment with my new child, and I was so excited, which just made it worse. I have gotten to the point where it doesn’t hurt so much, I just pray he didn’t talk like that to too many others. Later, I had a wonderful PA, and she knew all about the Ob/gyn I was talking about. You know it’s bad when medical professionals agree that their colleague was awful! He was elderly when I was his patient, and has since passed away. Thank you all again, and great site admin!

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Butterfly April 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

Ugh, terrible. I would totally write a letter to the owner describing how off-putting that woman was, and also how wonderful your salesman was. Employers really do value knowing who’s doing their job well, and who isn’t.

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DGS April 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

That doctor sounds awful; the medical term for any miscarriage prior to 20 weeks is “spontaneous abortion”, the one for a loss after 20 weeks is “early neonatal loss”. Even if you had chosen to have an elective abortion (which you clearly did not), he had no right to berate you as he did! Outrageous and definitely warrants reporting to the state medical board. He probably would not lose his license, but he would be censured, and that would be a matter of public record.

Sadly, people making and voicing ridiculous assumptions is rampant. As a teenager, I traveled frequently with my Father, who raised me as a single parent for a time following my parents’ divorce due to my estrangement from my Mother during that time (we have since reconciled, and I now am blessed to have a wonderful relationship with both my parents). I look exactly like my Dad, (minus the beard and whiskers), and I’m a good 30 years his junior, but I cannot tell you how many times hotel clerks would assume that I was my Father’s wife, not his daughter during our trips and put us in a room with one bed and would look befuddled when my Father would clarify that I was his daughter, and we needed two beds, please (mind you, I was 16 at the time, so you can only imagine how embarassed I was – not to mention how outrageous it is that someone would suspect a 46 year old man of being married to a 16 year old girl).

My wedding ring situation is a bit different, as when he proposed, my husband surprised me with his Grandmother’s beautiful and quite large diamond ring. It is a family heirloom that is infinitely precious to both my husband and me, particularly since late Grandmother was a remarkable woman who survived the Holocaust that wiped out her entire family, including a young child, as well as two bouts of cancer. My husband’s Grandmother never had anything but a plain wedding band, so on their 35th wedding anniversary, my husband’s Grandfather bought her this ring, which my husband inherited when she passed away. My wedding band was designed to match the engagement ring. I get comments on it constantly: “Is it real? This is huge!”, “What did you do to get a ring that big?”, “Wow, you must be really spoiled”, “Wow, your husband must really love you”, and my “favorite”, “What did he do that he had to get you a ring like that?” I am no wall-flower, so I have no problem setting people straight when they make outrageous comments like that, but that doesn’t make them any less unpleasant. The state of someone’s union, their relationship with their companions, the contents of their uteri, etc. is of nobody’s business, and it is best to never make outrageous comments like that. And the size/type/presence of a ring on someone’s finger is never an indication of the state of their relationship. While my husband and I are happily married, I would have married him with a plastic ring from a Cracker-Jack box or no ring at all.

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Chicalola April 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

What really gets me about such judgemental people is that I come from a religion that practices not wearing jewlrey of any kind, and this includes wedding rings. People make their own decision, but many choose to not wear a wedding ring. I hate that people are so quick to jump to their own conclusions without knowing any of the facts. I realize there will always be people like that…..but makes me upset still. At least the salesman working with them did apologize, and didn’t call the woman out in front of the customers. What she did was tacky, and I’m sure she got an earful once the OP had left. How terrible!

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peony April 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

OP’s and Michelle’s stories just serve to further illustrate the basic lesson — “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Granted – there are 2 exceptions to that – Speak out if you see something illegal or harmful (they overlap). But, really, unless you are specifically asked to participate in someone’s life – it is NONE of your business!!!

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Enna April 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

Surely for the saleswoman having custom form nice customers who aren’t rude, demarnding and dangerous is a good thing? “The customer is always right” is applicable here – nice reasonable ones are. What would the saleswoman rather? Married shoplifters? Or how about armed theives who come in and point a gun at her head then rob the shop? I’m not wishing that on her I’m just making the point that there are more dangerous people out there who do more “sinful” and harmful things the have babies out of wedlock.

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Cat April 16, 2011 at 10:02 am

The saleswoman should have been spoken to by someone. Perhaps the nice salesman who knew your original ring had broken did so later.
This sort of thing goes on forever. I found a piece of furniture I had been searching for on Craigslist. The seller was about two hours from me, but I love to drive and she lived in a place I enjoyed visiting.
When I told her where I lived to make sure I didn’t miss her because it was going to take some time for me to get to her, she told me she could not believe anyone would be so stupid as to make such a long drive for a piece of furniture. What an idiot to go all that way! No one in their right mind would do such a thing!
I emailed her back to say that I would not be coming to buy the piece after all. I had been searching for months but I would rather not have it than to have to deal with someone like her. If she wanted to sell it, she would find she would do better not to ridicule and insult the buyer. She was shocked that I was offended.

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Hollanda, UK April 17, 2011 at 5:19 am

Some people just have no clue about what offends and what doesn’t! I recently encountered a lady (I use that term loosely) who felt it was her place to demand, in front of a pub full of my friends, whether I am pregnant as I have put a little weight on. Now there may be a medical reason for this, which I am waiting to hear. I am paranoid enough about looking fat and the way she shouted it was just horrendously humiliating for me to deal with. Normally I would have let it slide but this time I found my voice. I said “Could you say that a little louder please? I think some people in Mississippi didn’t quite hear you.” I would have normally let it slide as this lady is recovering from cancer. My fiance and I have shown her a great deal of support and friendship even though she is not in our normal circle of friends. We have rallied round in collections for her, we have asked after her and I do not regret that at all – it’s what people DO when they hear someone is suffering, even if they don’t like the said person particularly much. I just let her previous insults go as water under the bridge. I was actually pretty awestruck the way she is fighting this thing – this is one strong woman. I respected and admired her for her attitude in not letting it get her, and we were actually starting to get on quite well before her massive faux pas in the pub. I wish in a way I hadn’t said anything to her, but frustration and embarrassment got the better of me. Walking away would have been better, but…hey. I know she is in pain, but is that a reason to insult people so blatantly? Did I make my own faux pas? I have AS and sometimes I don’t know if it is my problem or someone else’s! :(

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--Lia April 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

Hollanda– There are medications for pain and other medical conditions that can remove a person’s inner censor the way alcohol can. Small strokes can do the same in the way they damage a person’s brain. I’m no doctor so I’m not giving medical advice, but from the basic facts you describe (previously strong person you had reason to admire, current cancer patient), I’d wonder if medicine, even heart medication, is a factor here. I’m not giving etiquette advice here either. I honestly don’t know where the line is in this situation between graciously letting an insult slide and politely standing up for oneself. I can offer some sympathetic I-know-what-you’re-going-through. My 87 year old father has started blurting out comments he never would have as a young man, never would have even 5 years ago. I usually gently remind him that people can overhear him, but with the situation with your friend, you don’t have the same sort of relationship. Besides, my father usually only waits 30 seconds between my gentle reminder and his repeat.

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PrincessSimmi April 17, 2011 at 8:36 am

Just because a child is not planned, does not mean it is not wanted and not loved. Neither my brother nor I were planned. Regardless of family politics, we were both loved (although by different parents – gender acception issues and cultural differences). I suggest getting Princess Sniffles a gift certificate for a brain scan – or a lobotomy if the temptation strikes (I’m kidding). Complain to Head Office about her, if you can. The snotty old bag should be set straight and learn not to judge.

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Maryann April 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

The OP’s story is heinous, but some of these stories in the comments are even worse. Michelle P, you especially have my sympathy. I can’t even imagine being in that situation. It’s really too bad you couldn’t manage to articulate the truth (although goodness knows I understand your shocked silence), briefly and icily, because that doctor deserved to feel the full weight of the shame he was trying to put on you. Unprofessional assumptions don’t come any more judgmental or cruel.

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Jobiska April 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

As it will be no surprise that I agree with all previous posters re the inappropriate behavior of the clerk, I thought I’d amuse you all with my misread of the OP. As I refer to mine as a “ring” rather than a “band,” I assumed that the OP was talking about her inexpensive choice of live music, that they did not have a “full” sound but rather a “thin” sound (somewhat unusual phrasing), and then that she knew, possibly because they were also friends, that the band later broke up in a dramatic fashion, hence the offbeat phrasing “cracked and broke.” It was only when she talked about *wearing* the band that I figured out I was way off! Although I am amused to imagine how she could pull off wearing them!

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Wink-n-Smile April 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Not all people use a ring when they get married. Contrary to popular opinion, it is NOT a requirement to complete the wedding ceremony. In some faiths, it is not even allowed as part of the ceremony.

And for all anyone knows, that baby you’re carting in the carrier could be your niece/nephew, younger sibling, or maybe you’re just baby-sitting for a friend.

People are far too ready to leap to conclusions, and not give people the benefit of the doubt.

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Wink-n-Smile April 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Michelle P – I’m so sorry for your loss.

That doctor needs some sense knocked into him. He needs to either cultivate a compassionate bedside manner, or else learn the value of the impartial, “Mmmhmmm.”

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Lady Antipode April 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Jobiska – me too!

I became very confused when I read “I had insisted on wearing it throughout”… and thought the band became terribly tired by aksing them to play throughout the ceremony/reception etc.

OP, think of it this way – if you had said something at the time, would you have regretted it later? I know my spur-of-the-moment replies are not always as well-crafted (or polite) as those suggested on this site.

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Katy April 20, 2011 at 6:45 am

Jobiska & Lady Antipode – I thought the same as well.

Until I got to the part about the band breaking from being worn during pregnancy I was fully expecting a story about a drunken singer making inappropriate remarks during the wedding or some such and a moral that you get what you pay for!

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Toya July 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

The OP should have complained to headquarters about what she said. Regardless of how she felt about a couple’s family planning, she could have easily ruined a sale with what she said.

Personally I would have continued with the transaction and then politely inform the old hag that we are not finally getting married, we came to ths store to see if I could my wedding ring resized. I would then end it with “Thanks for believeing I’m that young though. I really needed a confidence boost.”

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Javin September 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Wow. I honestly don’t know HOW I would have responded in this situation. I tend to be of the mindset that if someone’s crossed a line, then etiquette be damned. I’ll loudly berate people that cut in front of me in long supermarket lines, for example. Yeah, I’m that guy…

But it wasn’t until the OP had even pointed out what the woman was talking about that it even registered what she was saying! “Better late than never?” Is she saying I’m too old to have a kid? (Honestly the first thing that went through my head.) By the time it worked through my thick skull what she was talking about, she probably would’ve been long gone. But knowing me, I no doubt would have had a manager standing in front of me shortly afterwards.

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Softly Spoken December 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Katy, Jobiska & Lady Antipod: Thank God I wasn’t the only one! ;-P

Apparently the store clerk hails from Bizarro world, and thus felt compelled to ensure that customers would *not* want to buy anything. “How To Win Enemies and Piss Off People” Sheesh!

This also seems to be a textbook case of an assumption making an ass out of someone…

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