On The Parking Warpath

by admin on June 28, 2011

This happened at a veterinary hospital where I worked about 6 years ago.

First, a little back story.  The vet hospital was situated on a side street with parking in the front and rear of the building.  The parking at the rear was accessible by a relatively steep driveway.  There was also another business with parking on the right hand side of the building, and more parking across the street.  The street was widened a number of years ago and as such this has made  the parking at the front of the building somewhat awkward to get out of.  Clients would generally use some of the other parking available if there were more than 3 or so cars parked out front ( the business next door was quite amenable about letting our clients use their parking, and it was literally about 12 feet away. ) Everyone follow me so far?

Late one Saturday afternoon, a few minutes before closing, a car pulled up.  The driver parked parallel to the building rather than in an actual spot, blocking most of the parking spaces.  Given the time of day this was actually something quite common.  As I said, the parking was awkward to get out of and it was much easier to simply drive through all of it.  Clearly this would not be acceptable during regular business hours but we were literally moments from closing, it was a Saturday, and they were the only clients present.  The lady ( with her teenaged son) had a quick request and my work associate began to assist them.  Unfortunately, through incredible bad luck, several other clients came in shortly after.  Given that the lady and her son had taken up most of the parking with their one vehicle this meant that everyone else had to park either next door, across the street or out back.  She was clearly embarrassed about her inadvertent faux pas and we tried to finish as quickly as possible so she could be on her way.

Then another client came in.  The new client, client B, was in quite a temper about the parking job.  She loudly demanded to know who owned the vehicle, and when the first lady admitted it was hers ( and immediately apologized ) client B began to verbally berate and abuse her.  She did not swear or call her names but rather used her tone and words to just wreck the other woman.  In many eventful years of working with the public I have never witnessed such a complete and utter humiliation of another human being.   Client B literally cut this lady down to the point where she was almost in tears.  The other people in the room and I were utterly at a loss as how to end this horrible scene. Although it was being played out in front of everyone it was essentially between the two of them and there did not seem like an appropriate way to intervene.  And through it all, the lady’s teenage son watched his mother in what was quite possibly one of the most humiliating moments of her life.  I cannot express how dreadful and over the top it all was.  The lady apologized repeatedly and did not argue or offer any kind of rebuttal.  She knew she was in the wrong and although she certainly would have been justified in defending herself in some manner, she never did.

I eventually interrupted and began to serve client B  ( I had served several other people while this was going on, as everyone in the room was eager to get as far away from our hospital as possible at this point ) and this stopped the tirade.  The lady apologized one final time and left, head down, followed by her son.  It was heartbreaking and terrible to see her in this moment.  I was in the process of finishing with client B
and when I looked up to give her the receipt I was astonished and outraged to see her SMILE and WINK at me!  The entire humiliating scene was nothing more than a game to her….a game in which she thought we all took delight.   She then made a disparaging comment about the lady involved, and I simply turned to the next client in line and ignored her, so she left.

Courtesy is a necessity in my line of work but surely there are exceptions at times.  I truly did not know how to handle this situation and neither did anyone else present.  I live in Canada, in the Maritimes….we are a pretty laid back bunch and in thirty odd years I had never seen such a deliberate display of cruelty and malice.  Especially over a parking space!! 0616-11

Interrupt earlier.  “Excuse me, is there something I can help you with?”    Diffuse the situation with a redirection of the angst into a more productive avenue.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Quieas June 28, 2011 at 10:17 am

Me thinks that as soon as this horrible lady started humiliating that poor woman, you or someone else should have kindly asked her to leave. Actions like that should never be tolerated. That poor woman. :(

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Just Laura June 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

I am not going to attack the OP (it seems she was caught off-guard), and I’m certainly not excusing the public berating of this woman. What I thought was odd is that a woman was there with her teenage son, and she parked inconveniently, rudely, and illegally, depriving paying clients of parking spots. The OP says that, “Clearly this would not be acceptable during regular business hours…” It was still during regular business hours. When she realized that she her error, she should have immediately stepped outside and quickly moved her car into a proper spot. The teenage son could have stayed with the animal, or sat in the waiting room if the animal were with a vet. If the son were driving age, then the mother should have asked her son to move the car as soon as others started to arrive. That would be the polite thing to do, and I can’t imagine why she didn’t do that.

Again, the overly-angry woman was the most wrong in this situation, but I get really irked when a person can’t be bothered to park properly to avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing others.

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Just Laura June 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

When she realized her error…
Apologies for the typo.

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Clair Seulement June 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

While I by no means excuse the behavior, I’m with Just Laura–the berate-r was reacting to the obvious sense of entitlement on the part of the illegal/dangerous park-er. Don’t flip out on people, but don’t do things that needlessly interfere with the safety and convenience of others, either.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson June 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

I agree with Admin and Quieas: OP could and should have intervened much sooner. The verbal attack was _not_ “essentially between the two of them .” It was a live action Punch-and-Judy show for a captive audience. And I’d have gone further than just “Excuse me, is there something I can help you with?” I’d have said something like “Ma’am, you’ve made your point. Can you please drop it now? — And Ma’am (to the victim) perhaps you’d better move your car. We’ll wait.”

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DGS June 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

A challenging situation, to be sure…I think it would have been appropriate to ask the former lady kindly, “Would you mind taking a moment to repark your car?” when the new customers came in, while immediately redirecting rude lady with a “Is there something I can help you with?” when she began her tirade.

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--Lia June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

It’s hard to know the right thing to do when you’re taken by surprise, but for anyone in a situation like that in the future, the person at the front desk is in charge. You wouldn’t sit silent waiting on other customers while one person in the office beat up another or stole from another. You’d intervene as necessary. Same rule for tongue lashing. First, decide if the first woman had done anything wrong. If you think she parked incorrectly, tell her nicely that you’ll be glad to continue helping as soon as she moves her car. You can stress that it was O.K. for her to park as she did originally, but now that there’s been an unexpected rush, you’d like her to move it. Alternately, decide as you did, that her parking was alright with you.

Next, intervene. Tell Client B that you’re sorry for the inconvenience and that you’ll take care of it. If she continues yelling and berating, ask her to step into another room to collect herself, or plain tell her to knock it off. Don’t get involved in taking sides. Make it clear that you’re in charge and that the problem is her yelling at one of your customers. That’s what has to stop.

The larger principle is one of jurisdiction. If 2 people are in a public place, they might be in a situation where they have to work it out between themselves. They weren’t. They were in a private office, and the rules of the staff are the ones that must be followed. That goes for parking, yelling, and insulting. It’s your job to make sure that everyone gets good service. That includes not allowing a customer to be berated in your office.

Finally, when you got the wink, you might have looked her in the eye and said “I didn’t find it funny.” (Not that I would have thought of that at the moment. These things are easy in hindsight.) But we don’t know that it was a conspiratorial wink. Sometimes people do that out of embarrassment.

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badkitty June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

Having worked in hospitals and in other animal care facilities, I’ve encountered my fair share of people like this – they really seem to think that treating other people poorly is good sport. Unfortunately, when the welfare of an animal is involved we can’t simply send the person away. In the grooming salon where I worked for a time, we were warned to treat these people with kid gloves because if they get angry they may go home and take it out on their animals – which we’d seen more than once. The sort of person who enjoys tearing others down for funsies is acutely aware of the restrictions placed on us and will take full advantage of it. Sadly, the best thing to do in that situation is to try to serve the abuser first and get them out of there before they can do any more damage. This leaves them with the impression of having been right and doesn’t really solve the problem, but the usual solutions just don’t work; I’ve started hoping that each of them will try that routine in a bar or a mall, where the employees can fight back or even call the police.

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Ashley June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

I live in a town that has a lot of odd unwritten parking rules. We all know when parking situations like the one described above are acceptable and when they are not. We even know that if there is some kind of event or festival in town, that we should be on our best parking behavior so we don’t confuse people from out of town. So I can honestly understand why the OP wasn’t as upset about the parking job as some people might have been. If that is what that place is used to, then I am sure they have dealt with it before. BUT! The verbal beatdown that the customer got from the other customer wouldn’t have ever been called for. The woman was obviously already embarrassed and I am sure other customers were dealing with it, so to reduce a woman practically to tears over the situation? Not cool. Especially if even the other customers were visibly disturbed by this woman’s tirade. And I can also understand why OP didn’t step in and neither did any of her coworkers. Stuff like this catches you off guard, and until you have handled a blow up of that magnitude before, you can never really be prepared for it. I hope the customer learned to park a bit more carefully next time, and I also hope that OP is ready to handle any other ranting customers in the future.

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M.Amanda June 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

Just Laura, I would have thought that stepping out to correct her parking error would have been more of an inconvenience. It was only a rare instance of multiple customers coming in moments before closing (something that really irks me unless it is truly an in-and-out-in-a-flash transaction) that made it even worth mentioning. If no other people had come in and she had gone outside to re-park, the argument could be made that she was so overly fussy about “doing it correctly” that she inconsiderately made the workers wait longer for her to finish her business, close the clinic, and go home to their families.

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SillyMe June 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

I may have to admit to being in the wrong here – but I have been known to flip out, go into a tirade, and even call police (or mall security), when I see able-bodied people park in ‘handicapped’ spaces without a placard, and clearly didn’t ‘leave it at home,’ even when I’m not transporting my mother in her wheelchair. Too many times I haven’t been able to use a ‘handicapped’ (wheelchair-designed) space because of some young 20-something who is ‘only going to be a minute,’ to get shampoo at the salon, take-out at the restaurant, or fill in the blank. My personal favorite? The woman who blocked the sidewalk RAMP by parking in the NO PARKING area while waiting for her mother to get her haircut. Fortunately, even the salon owner told her she had to move. So, while the woman who came in was rude and wrong and should have known when to quit, I have to admit, after about the upteenth time of not having wheelchair access because of some entitled person (young or old), I’m on a short fuse with that one issue. One note: when you see people pushing a wheelchair, please keep in mind that the person may weight anywhere from 125-200 pounds, the wheelchair weighs anywhere fro 20-30 pounds, the handgrips are NOT ergonomically designed (making the pusher bend over slightly), and any slight upward grade adds resistance. If they’ve been shopping, the packages are usually in (lap), under (basket) or hanging off (handgrip) the wheelchair and that adds weight.

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LilyG June 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

The only Maritimes place I’ve ever visited was Newfoundland and I can’t believe this would happen there. Everyone I met would have given you the last shirt off their back-they are unnaturally polite and kind.

“The other people in the room and I were utterly at a loss as how to end this horrible scene.” I favour a stern “Knock that off this instant!” coupled with vaulting over the counter.

This situation sounds awful for almost everyone involved. My sympathies.

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Hemi Halliwell June 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

Yes, the lady should have parked properly and it was inconvenient to the other customers, but publicly berating and verbally abusing someone to such a degree as described by the OP over a parking space? Seems like a huge overreaction.
The fact that she winked and smiled about it and made a disparaging comment after the lady had left just proves how horribly rude and utterly awful this woman is.

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Chris June 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The parking woman was rude and was called out on her behavior. The fault lies between Ms “I park where I want with no consideration for others” and the office staff that allowed this person to potentially inconvenience others. Was customer B in the right? Of course not but the situation shouldn’t have presented itself in the first place if Customer A wasn’t rude to begin with. No one wants another to be humiliated for a mistake but this wasn’t a mistake, it was an intentional act of thinking your convenience is more important that others inconvenience.

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Tyler June 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

There is such as thing as choosing one’s battles, and in a case such as this where all the circumstances regarding parking are very complicated, proper etiquette would dictate letting this one error slide, especially if no one suffered any inconvenience greater than having to walk a few extra steps.

I remember once when my mom and I were visiting a college campus and experienced a similar altercation. My mom was driving, and being from a rural area, was not familiar with crosswalks. Apparently, she drove past a crosswalk where an elderly man was waiting to cross. Keep in mind, no one was in any sort of danger as he was still on the sidewalk, and my mom had stopped for pedestrians using crosswalks prior to this mishap. Instead of just letting it slide, he walked over to my mom’s car and began yelling and being verbally abusive before walking off and swearing. The only thing this accomplished was leaving us with a negative impression of the university and making my mom feel terrible for the rest of the day.

The moral of the story is that even if someone commits a social impropriety, being nasty for the sake of nastiness or simply to vent is never excusable and is in the poorest taste. Furthermore, had this event occurred in my place of employment, I would have politely intervened and tried to assist the enraged woman before the situation got too out of hand. I can imagine that allowing this rude individual to make a scene certainly couldn’t be good for business.

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Just Laura June 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

If no other people had come in and she had gone outside to re-park

But this didn’t happen, so it’s a moot point. I’m not saying she should have moved if no one else arrived; obviously others were coming in. Therefore, she should have asked her son to move the car, or if he wasn’t old enough, run outside to move it while her son dealt with the animal. SillyMe had a great example – there are many people who think “it’ll just take a minute” while they block the fire lane, accessible parking, or ramp.

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Lucy June 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I worked for a veterinarian for a while. When we got a client like this, we would first ascertain that the pet did not have an emergency, and then we would ask them politely–but sternly–to wait while we assisted the clients who had come in before them.

We would wait on them in turn, and then they would get a warning letter about their behavior from our boss. We fired a couple of clients who seemed to think they had the right to march in and abuse everyone in sight whenever they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. The boss always did the heavy lifting: He made it clear that it was his practice and being subjected to verbal assault was not part of our job description. Nor was escalating the situation by trying to handle it ourselves: If the client didn’t defuse fast enough, we were to call in a veterinarian to put the fear of the white lab coat into them.

Receptionists and assistants/technicians at veterinary hospitals –who, at least in my area, are usually young women–are often seen by clients (especially clients with chips on their shoulders) as dim-witted menial laborers and fair game for venting. I don’t know what they’re thinking: I guess that you don’t have to be very smart to monitor pets under anesthesia, check bacterial and fungal cultures, etc.? We do a lot more than pick up poop.

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Alexis June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

‘Why are you winking at me?!?’ spoken in a loud, and completely baffled tone of voice. But really it never should have come so far. “I’m sorry but you cannot scream at our clients. If you persist in harrassing her, you will have to leave immediately. This is your only warning.’

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--E June 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I think we can leave it to the OP, who was present for the situation, and who works in that office and knows the customs of the area, to decide if it was inappropriate or awful for the mis-parker to have done that. I’m sure folks who are getting huffy over the poor parking job have never double-parked in a crowded urban environment so they could throw an envelope in the mailbox, and of course they always make sure that their car is dead center in the parking space whenever they park in a parking lot; but most of the rest of us are merely human.

My friends have informed me (and I tend to agree) that I will likely die at the hands of a woman such as the bully in this scenario. This is exactly the sort of situation where I tend to step in. I really hate bullying. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved from sitting uncomfortably to just calling people out on their BS. It usually redirects their ire at me, but I’ve got the hide of a rhinoceros and an economy-sized barrel of verbal whoopass in my back pocket. True bullies aren’t interested in throwing down with people who can fight back.

I’ve tried over the years to develop other tactics, and I appreciate another reminder from the folks posting about the “distract her” technique. I’ll file that one away for future use. I’m sure an onlooker could jump in with “Oh, what a lovely purse! Where did you get it?” and derail the rant handily.

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Twik June 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I’m in agreement with most people. (1) Don’t assume that you’re the only one with that “quick little errand that doesn’t require you to park correctly”. If it’s late, and you want to get home, remember that other people do too, and you’ve just added more frustration to them than you would experience by parking correctly. (2) A receptionist has some power, such as not allowing a verbal brawl in her waiting room. If the abuser couldn’t have been distracted from her prey (“Excuse me, ma’am, I need to check that your telephone number in our files is correct,”), then she should have been told to behave or leave.

And (3) I’m surprised that the first woman was willing to stand around and be abused, without finally saying “I get it, but jeez, it’s parking, not killing baby ducks.” Even if I’d parked terribly, and knew it, there’s a limit to how much abuse I’d take.

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Pam B June 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I don’t think the OP was responsible to stop the behaviour – the responsibility lies with the verbal abuser. Sometimes we are just in a “state of shock” and all the right things to say come about 10 minutes after the perfect moment to say them has passed.

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M.Amanda June 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I see where she did park incorrectly and it did inconvenience others, but the letter really sounds like she didn’t realize her mistake until others came into the office behind her. She obviously didn’t think, “oh, I’ll just park here anyway,” with some sense of entitlement. It was an honest mistake she regretted and was already embarrassed about. At that point she had two options: try to finish as quickly as possible and leave or go move her car immediately. The second option runs the risk of committing the additional rudeness I mentioned above. And even if she did realize it before then, the chances that the clinic would get such a rush at that time that it became an issue was small enough that thinking the first option was the lesser inconvenience is not unreasonable.

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Jillybean June 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Not sure we should be comparing someone who parks inconveniently to people who park illegally, they are not the same thing. Those who park in handicap spaces or in fire lanes are actually breaking the law. Those who simply park like this woman parked are simply being rude. There is a difference.

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karma June 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I have a mixed opinion that I’m going to post before I read the previous posts.

I have zero tolerance for a person who takes up multiple parking spots in a limited area. That’s inexcusable. The first lady was plainly taking a shortcut, hoping nobody would notice, and figuring that she could get in and out quickly—a self-centered act, no matter how you pitch it. Those are the same reasons other people do it at the bank, the store, the post office, etc., and it is really never okay. It ALWAYS causes unnecessary inconvenience to others.

Did the woman deserve to be publicly called out? Sure. She made a choice that caused other legitimate customers to have to go park elsewhere.
Should the public display have continued for more than 30 seconds? No. The woman who called her out could have done so briefly, curtly, and with little emotion.
Should others have intervened? No. That was between the two of them. As long as one wasn’t endangering the other or beating her, it’s their affair.
Should the OP have gotten involved? No. Her only real option was speeding up the first transaction so that the first lady would move her vehicle and leave as quickly as possible.

Unlike many, I believe that there is a lot to be said for being publicly called out when you are being self-centered and inconsiderate. There are those who would say it’s unkind, unfair, and unnecessary, however it would teach the recipient the *valuable* lesson that she is not the only person in town who needs to park, and likely she’d never make that choice again. Ultimately, isn’t that what is desired—-that a selfish choice won’t be repeated?

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chechina June 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

What I got out of this story was a reminder: When someone does something rude or thoughtless to you and you react in kind, it only makes you look worse.

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TylerBelle June 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I agree the lady who parked parallel to the building perhaps should have not done so, though a.) it seemed it wasn’t done out of an air of superior entitlement, more that it was late in the day and thus it wasn’t uncommon to do so; b.) deserves some points on handling the confrontation without verbal retaliation, and c.) for her sin, she sure didn’t deserve the attack “Client B.” heaped upon her. I realize one doesn’t know what they would do until they are put in that position, but I can’t imagine watching someone get ripped apart, to near tears and all in front of their child, and say or do nothing to stop it. Especially in cases of taking up a few more parking spaces than they should have.

With “B,” I’d believe she thought everyone was on her side by their silence. And with her parting smile and wink, it didn’t seem like she was too inconvenienced, it was just a game to her. If she hadn’t unleashed on the ill-parked lady, I wonder if she’d have spared someone else her venom. So sad and hope she wises up.

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Shoebox June 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

The dynamics of this situation become easier to understand if you know the Maritimes (as I do, having lived and worked there for years). Life there really is almost ridiculously laid-back, genial and uncomplicated. I can easily see the OP and other audience being completely taken aback and unsure how to proceed vis-a-vis such a display of open hostility over a fairly minor point.

That said, clearly both sides had a point, and something had to be done. I favour the OP’s saying firmly ‘Ma’am, you’ve made your point, I’ll have to ask you to stop as you’re upsetting the entire office,’ immediately after which turning to the first woman and suggesting her son complete the transaction while she re-parked. And, if hostile woman had attempted any winking etc at that point, a simple cold stare as a followup.

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Jo Bleakley June 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I cannot stand this sort of thing. Yes the lady who parked the car badly was in the wrong, but there is absolutely no excuse to be mean or a bully. You can make your point very effectively without degrading others.

I was bullied very badly as a child, so I know exactly how it feels. As an adult who has moved on from the past but never forgotten it, I will never stand by and watch someone be humiliated and hurt when it is actually very easy to break up and defuse the situation. I’ve stepped in many times, sometimes even as a customer when someone is abusing staff. I’ve never had the situation escalate or become dangerous. Bullies hate when their actions are brought into the light. They get away with their behaviour because people are too afraid to call attention to it, or it’s “not their business.’ When one person speaks up, others generally follow.

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Angeldrac June 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

There are many good points here:
The first lady was committing the original etiquette sin of parking selfishly
We are often unable to react appropriately in these situations, because they take us by surprise
The second woman really did overreact.
But my attention was drawn to this comment by OP:
“I had never seen such a deliberate display of cruelty and malice”
Really? A cranky lady probably having a bad day overeacted and berated a woman who had parked selfishly? That’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?
I agree this situationreally would have been a nasty one to be involved in, but it really does seem less an etiquette breach and more of a situation of two foolish people behaving foolishly, and certainly not the most malicious thing I’ve ever heard of.

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OP June 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Hi- OP here- I should clarify a couple of things. The first one is that there were no animals involved. This particular hospital would stop seeing patients by noon on Saturdays, but we were open ( without an attending veterinarian) for several more hours. This was for food sales/medications etc so most transactions took only a moment or two. Generally we would see only a handful of people in the hours after the veterinarian left and it was very unusual for even one client to come in right before closing, much less several. Although it was thoughtless for client “A” to park in front of the building in the manner that she did, she can be forgiven in thinking that it would not inconvenience anyone. Many of our clients had been coming for 30 years or more and are very aware of our hours and when it will potentially get busy. When I stated that “this would not have been acceptable during our regular business hours” I was referring to a regular workday when veterinarians and animals would be present and the hospital would be quite busy. I apologise for not being more clear.

I have always regretted how I handled this situation. There isn’t a lot of justification for not getting involved except for the fact that there was something strangely intimate and almost personal with the exchange. If I didn’t know better I would have thought they actually knew one another… or at least, that client “B” knew client “A” and was being vindictive on purpose. Although at the time I had a lot of experience with aggressive clients ( as all people who work with the public do) I had never witnessed something quite like this. Now that I am a little older I can say without question that I would intervene as soon as the words started to fly. We all learn from our mistakes and that is one I would not make again. And there is not a shadow of doubt that the wink and smile at the end was a self satisfied, smug gesture. In a pretty eventful career I have never seen someone behave quite like this.

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PrincessSimmi June 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Once, when my cat and kitten had a fight, the cat scratched the kitten in the eye and blood went pouring everywhere. I absolutely freaked out, grabbed the kitten, drove down to the emergency vet, and parked in the ambulance zone. As soon as I flew through the door the receptionist started to say “you can’t park-” and then saw me covered in blood holding a screaming kitten and bawling my eyes out and ushered me straight into the next available vet. There is a time and place to be rude about such things, and sometimes parking somewhere improperly can’t be helped. I think true emergencies count as a time that you can park somewhere and people will understand. I did move the car as soon as the vet took the kitten out the back to do tests, and nobody was inconvenienced.

When I say emergency, I’m talking about illness, blood, fire, etc. An emergency is NOT picking up fast food or getting your nails done because you chipped one. Yes, the lady was in the wrong, but we don’t know the nature of the reason she went to the office. But, everyone makes mistakes. It should not be the priority of the OP to force people to be nice. The rude lady should not, under any circumstances, Have said rude nasty things to another human being over something that was a mistake. What, do you expect me to go scream at my new neighbours for parking in my spot last night? I left them a note saying ‘Hi, please don’t park in my spot. Thanks.’ I’d love to give rude lady a smack upside the head.

As a note, kitten is fine, and fortunately didn’t suffer any vision loss or permanent damage from the incident. She was incredibly lucky- the cat scratched the skin on both sides of her eye and ripped her third eyelid. They’re now best friends.

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OP June 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Angeldrac-
Yes. Outside of children having a temper tantrum, this was by far the worst display of malice and bad manners I have ever seen, which is both why I have not forgotten it after 6 years and why I did not know how to react at the time. I would also venture that this is why no one else in the room ( my coworker included ) knew how to react either. Although I would never claim that we do not have rude or inconsiderate people in the Maritimes ( we have many, just like every other place on the planet ) the fact is that courtesy, politeness and kindness is the norm here and when you do encounter a rude patron, client, person in line etc the general way that people handle it is by simply ignoring the perpetrator. I certainly thought of dozens of ways to handle this situation after the fact but at the time I couldn’t believe that client “B” didn’t simply stop when her point was made. I would handle it differently now.

Shoebox- you described life in the Maritimes to a “T”. I hope you have enjoyed your time here!

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Aje June 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I was this woman once. I made a simple error and was screamed at in a public place about it… actually… it was on a first date. I was supposed to leave the tip on the table, but since I was lacking change I was going to charge it on my card. I accidentally marked the wrong amount on the slip. The waitress came up to me and started complaining to me me. And by complaining I mean, SCREAMING. My date was like O_O. I apologized to her, told her that she was right, I had put the wrong amount and if there was anything I could do. She started saying how that was impossible, she would have to draw up another account and how it wasn’t right that people like ME thought I could walk all over her. At that point I grew a bit impatient. I asked her what she expected me to do, since I had already apologized and offered to correct the error. Then I left, my date following. She followed us out as we attracted the attention of the whole restaurant.
If she hadn’t been so rude about it, I’d have asked my date if I could borrow 5 dollars and immediately pay him back when he dropped me off at home. But she was so rude that I mentally charged her five dollars for my trouble.

When this happens you sincerely apologize and try to fix the matter. If you have done both you are excused of listening to any more grief about it or feeling any more guilt. There are some people who just won’t be happy unless you are groveling on the ground for their forgiveness. That’s ridiculous. When you make a mistake learn from it and move on.

I hope very much that this lady has learned from the situation as well.

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Cat June 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

How about just letting out a brief scream? It stops whatever is happening and then you can say, “Since you were screaming at this lady, I thought I’d get a quick scream in too.” I did it once when my high school students got too carried away in class and needed refocusing. It certainly worked.

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lkb June 29, 2011 at 6:34 am

I was about to say that “No parking issue deserves such public humiliation as described here.” But then, I remembered when I was very similar to “client B”:

Early one Saturday morning, I had to stop at the post office on my way elsewhere. The post office was on our city’s main thoroughfare. The only parking was in the back. To get there, you had to drive down a narrow driveway (about a car-and-a-half wide — the “half” to allow pedestrians to get to the front door, probably). At any rate, I had to make a left turn into the driveway. I was doing so when I had to stop. I had thought I was clear to complete my turn but it turns out the car in front of me could not move because some (ahem) gentleman parked his car in that driveway (obviously because he thought he’d “just be a minute” and that “it’s early Saturday morning and no one will be here anyway.”)

Well, as I was trying to figure out what to do, a semi-truck came barreling down the road RIGHT AT ME! and I had barely enough time to react and get the heck out of the way. I don’t actually remember what I ended up doing (where I parked etc.) but I do remember marching into that post office and probably shouting, “Whoever parked their g–d—ed (insert color and model) in the driveway — you just about got me killed!” I do remember the driver was indeed still there but I was too livid to recall his reaction. (Keep in mind I was a very quiet and shy female college student at the time.)

It was probably not a life-threatening situation in the OP but we don’t know what was going on in client As or Bs lives at that moment.

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--Lia June 29, 2011 at 8:06 am

Thanks to badkitty for bringing up an aspect to this that I wouldn’t have thought of. My comments had to do with businesses in general. I was thinking of customers as the general public. That’s not a bad way to go, but considering the damage unstable pet owners can do is the better one. We have to be careful all the time with people who fly off the handle. We have to be doubly careful with people who fly off the handle in public and might be even worse at home.

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Enna June 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

I agree with Admin and Just Larua, being taken by surprsie I can appricate that. However the incident is taking palce on your work space due an incident on your workspace so you are entittled to intervene. “Can I help you?” good response. Then rude woman complains to you, you inform her, if she has a problem, she needs to politly inform a staff member to deal with the situation in a grown up manner rather then shouting like a toddler. If the lady who was told was asked to move her car firmly but politely by the rude woman that would be different, she wouldn’t be rude, she would be making a her point.

As soon as it came apprant that the vets was getting busy the first lady should have been asked to re park her car. She cleary wasn’t quick enough to avoid inconvienicng other clients. That’s what clinches it. If she had been quick enough before it got busy and had left then no one would have been in coninced, but she was too long. Where I work one Dr (A) blocked another Dr (B) in, I couldn’t drive so Dr A gave me the keys so Dr B could move Dr A’s car out of the way. A’s car wasn’t perfectly parked but it wasn’t in anyone’s way and it was quiet at the time. Dr A did move the car later on before it got busy.

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Enna June 29, 2011 at 8:48 am

P.S two wrongs don’t make a right. The second lady overeacted and behaved worse then the first lady.

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Riri June 29, 2011 at 10:11 am

I agree, it would have been nice for OP to interrupt sooner,,, it’s not really a “private” conversation when carried out so publicly and loudly. Perplexed as to why the teenage son did not defend his mum? Of course his mum made an error, but it’s absolutely unnecessary for rude, er, “lady” to insult her that way. I’d never stand for a family member being insulted in front of me like that, and I’d have had a few strong words to say if, like him, I was witnessing some stranger was humiliating my mum.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson June 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

“How about just letting out a brief scream? ” Cat, that’s brilliant!

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delislice June 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Seems to me that both Customer A and Customer B behaved badly. Once I’d read the OP’s follow-up, it became clear that no animal emergency was involved. Customer A was behaving as one of those “The Rules Don’t Apply To Me” people who drive me bats by slinging her car along the front of the building instead of taking five second to actually park in a space.

But that doesn’t make it ok for Customer B to have torn Customer A a new one. They both flunk.

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Jenni July 1, 2011 at 1:05 am

Personally, both customers were wrong. A shouldn’t have parked as she did, B had absolutely no right to shout and berate as she did.
Other commenters have mentioned “perfectly healthy young people” taking handicap spaces.. having clearly not forgotten their placards.. I would just like to remind people that some folks have “invisible” disabilities. Myself for example (and my placard is new and I’ve forgotten it once and been lectured.. ) I seem to be perfectly healthy if a bit overweight and am in my early twenties. I walk fine when going INTO the store, but due to a serious injury when I was younger, I fairly quickly develop severe pains and walk with a noticable limp after maybe 20 minutes of walking. I would advise you keep such things in mind when you judge and accuse a stranger over such a thing.

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Enna July 4, 2011 at 5:14 am

If customer A had made an honest mistake then pointing it out to her wouldn’t have been rude and asking her to repark the car wouldn’t have been unresonable. If it hadn’t got busy she wouldn’t have inconivineced anyone so the situation would have happened. All customer B had to say was “there’s a car out there that isn’t parked right, please could the owner move it? It’s X Colour and X Model.” Then if Custotmer A aplogised and moved it there would be no need to bully someone. Since Customer A was embrassed there is a chance she could have made an honest mistake – her mind could have been on other things.

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Kai July 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

You don’t repay rudeness with rudeness. Customer A made a mistake and should have corrected it once she realised (though by the sounds of it, there may not have been any time to do so once she did realise and thus her only option was to hurry up with her transaction and get out of the way). I don’t mind someone commenting to her that she should watch how she parks in future or asking her to fix it now, but there was absolutely zero excuse for customer B to tear into her like that.

I suspect that customer B was the type of woman who just enjoyed belittling others and humiliating them judging by how she was described. So she would have been on the look out for any one to make a mistake. I too wonder why A’s son didn’t leap to her defence, I certainly have when people have abused my mother.

Lecturing A or even grumbling about A is one thing, but what happened was pure abuse and should not be tolerated.

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Mediancat July 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

The OP has stated that this was late in the day and that using more than one space late in the day was “quite common” and that late rushes happened very rarely. That said, I don’t see the first woman as having been rude at all.

Other times, other circumstances, absolutely. In this case? No. And in any event the response by the second woman was a wild and horrifying overreaction that she was clearly doing just because she could.

The first woman made what was a blunder only in hindsight, and was clearly not intending to be rude. The second woman coldly and callously reduced the first woman to tears over a minor matter. The second woman is beyond rude, to me. The second woman is perilously close to evil.

Rob aka Mediancat

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