Ungrateful Ad Nauseam

by admin on September 20, 2012

Some years ago I had joined my son’s class (10-12 year olds) for a hike on day two of a three day school camp. Knowing I planned to return home after the hike, I was asked by a teacher if I would take a student with me who had been feeling unwell. She really wanted to go home and my helping out would save her Mum making the long trip to the mountain area. The school community was a small rural one, the girl (we’ll call Fay) lived 1km from us, she knew me from helping in the classroom and was glad to be going with me.

All good. Well, not quite..on the way home she projectile vomited in the back seat of my car (and the front seat etc..). Ok, so I’m a Mum…I cleaned her up and we carried on the journey. The school had informed her Mum (we’ll call her Clair) we were on our way.

On arriving at her home, Clair met us and what ensued is enshrined in my memory as an example of extremely bad manners.

I said hello and let her know her daughter had been sick in the car during the drive home. Clair’s manner was standoffish and her total communication with me was hello and goodbye, whilst fussing over Fay, who had a suspected tummy bug, not a serious illness.

I recall feeling something was missing, but said goodbye and drove home to the onerous task of scrubbing out someone else’s child’s vomit from my car’s interior…yeech.

While doing so, I had time to realize what had been missing were the words “thank you” and “sorry”and I had a gut feeling I’d been on the receiving end of something unpleasant (Clair’s attitude) and was totally puzzled as to why.

Although ours was a small rural community, Clair and I had never really met, although our kids were in the same class, and we knew where the other lived.

Some background- My Family and I had moved to the area 5 years earlier. I was involved with the school and learnt the community was a mix of newer residents and long term families. I was a friendly, busy young Mum. I had noticed Clair didn’t return friendly waves (mine) and she hadn’t been welcoming in any way at school events, and… I cringe at my naivete now ( but I was young -my son was my eldest, Fay was her youngest and Clair was twenty years my senior )and my friendly nature meant I really didn’t take such things personally . Ignorance can be bliss (but only for so long) End of background.

Now, I hadn’t expected a brass band welcome and effusive gratitude when delivering her daughter home, just normal, everyday politeness. I am sure anyone would. I am also sure if it had been my child someone had helped in such a situation, it would have gone like this;

“Thank you so much for bringing Johnny home and for saving me the two hour round trip to the mountain.”

“I’m so sorry for the mess. Please let me drive you home (1km) Leave your car here so I can clean it for you, or have it professionally valeted. It’s the very least I can do!”

And I probably would have baked a cake a few days later and dropped it off, as a personal gesture of thanks. (Just something I learnt from my Mum- thanks Mum!)

When I explained how puzzled I was by Clair’s demeanor, to someone who knew her very well -a long term resident Mrs D (who btw had always been smiling and friendly to me) she enlightened me, “Oh, that’s just the way Clair is!” Me- “Really?” and “Why?”

This was to be my lesson 101 in recognition of not just a Special Snowflake but a SSSS- Supremely Superior Special Snowflake.

You see Clair had married into a family who had lived in the area for five generations. In Clair’s eyes (and her family’s)this was grounds to be regarded very Specially and certainly a Whole Stratosphere above others. Realizing that I was unfamiliar with such attitudes, to aid my understanding Mrs D added that as a girl Clair won a local sports cup! Her specialness knew no bounds. It seems even prior to marriage, the seed to Clair’s SSSS attitude were sprouted!

Knowing Clair so well, Mrs D said she would have been Mortified- Completely out of her Comfort Zone- to find herself in a situation (that day- or indeed any) where thanks, graciousness and consideration were required from her, because she really did not do these things! and certainly not towards anyone she considered beneath her! Me- “Really?” I’d had no idea! It seemed Clair had always looked down on lowly newcomers, who were not from wealthy land owning families or movers in prestigious sports club circles. The only people impressed by Clair were others like her. Now Mrs D had heard from Clair Fay had been brought home early from camp and that I “obviously did not know Who She Was!! It bothered her greatly when anyone did not understand and acknowledge her status in the community!! I was then and remain flummoxed by this specialness and any omission on my part! (perhaps a pamphlet to new arrivals to the area wouldv’e been handy?)

This experience was a huge eye-opener to me, as I was raised in a large family and taught no-one person is better than another and respect is earned (thanks again Mum) I was genuinely gobsmacked that people with hugely inflated egos and sense of entitlement can exist, certainly past kindergarten age and into adulthood, while raising children of their own!

In the years since, I have of course encountered many Special Snowflakes of varying forms and degrees. I remain Unimpressed by their Specialness. Simple everyday SS’s appear everywhere. Encounters with Supremely Superior Special Snowflakes, in Clair’s league have thankfully been more rare.

However exist they do! Most people will encounter such extreme SSSS behaviour at least once in their lifetime, and such superiority lauded over others, is hugely insulting to anyone on the receiving end.

Surely an appropriate and effective response is called for, especially if their seriously bad manners have always gone unchallenged. This could result in a weakening of the SSSS gene!

In my case years ago, Clair’s rudeness at the time went over my (naïve) head! However I am sure if I experienced and identified such an extreme case of bad manners today, it would go like this and I would feel just fine about my response!

Me- “Gosh..what was that? (to the sound of silence) Thankyou?? Oh that’s quite alright! Anyone would do the same! (I’m darned sure Clair would not have for my child!!)

“I’ll put the bill for my car to be valeted in the post”

“Bye now” 0905-12

I think you will go through life frustrated if you expect overt expressions of gratitude for acts of kindness.   You assisted the child more so than the mother.  The definition of a hero is someone who does the right thing without thinking they are owed appreciation or honor.  Let it go.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

jen a. September 20, 2012 at 5:26 am

OP – I’ll just start by saying that I understand how you’d be upset with Clair. You’d just cleaned her daughter’s vomit out of your car and didn’t receive so much as a thank you for your troubles. That would be enough for me to not want to have much to do with this Clair for awhile.

But……

Wow. There are a lot of assumptions in this post. I kept waiting to hear more of what Clair had done. What made her this special snowflake? A lot of this post was dedicated to what Clair was rather than what she’d actually done. I mean, Clair definitely should have thanked OP, or called/written her with a thank you if she was too preoccupied with her sick daughter at the initial meeting. I don’t think there’s any question that she was in the wrong, etiquette-wise. However, gossiping is also a faux-pas. Mrs. D is also deserving of e-hell. How does she know that Clair feels she is more special than others? Because she won a sports award and married into a wealthy family? I’m going to make my own assumption and say that Mrs. D is jealous.

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Belly September 20, 2012 at 5:39 am

Cleaning spew out of your car – boo!
Not even being acknowledged for it – double boo!
Your parting shot – yaay! Although I hope you never have to use it.
(Much better than my usual, ‘Oh, don’t mention it. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t!’)
I’m so sorry your encounter with this SSSS was made so much worse by the ick factor. BTW another S is needed in there, for Snob.

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Michelle September 20, 2012 at 5:41 am

I’m sorry, but I do think that wanting Clair to valet clean the car for you is over the top. A thank you and a sorry about the mess would be good, I agree, however offering to drive you home when her child is ill, and getting the car professionally cleaned, when what happened was nobody’s fault, makes you sound entitled. It was just one of those things that happens, but you clean it up and go on with life.

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QueenofAllThings September 20, 2012 at 6:01 am

I’m not sure what you expect here – you seem to be making quite a few assumptions about Clair’s behavior.

Was a “thank you” called for? Certainly. Should she have offered to have your car cleaned? Possibly. I think it’s rather snowflake of you to expect her to drive you home and for her to clean your car for you; should she leave her ill daughter home alone while she does so? How does she get the car back to you in a timely manner?

In general, we don’t do nice things for people (giving someone’s sick child a ride home) because we expect thanks. It clearly was on your way and not a big deal for you. Sure, the vomiting was unpleasant, but these things happen with children.

Yes, she should have said thank you. And she could have done something nice in return. But you seem to dislike her anyway, and this is just an excuse to pile on.

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Melissa September 20, 2012 at 6:47 am

I’m not sure the reason for the thesis on “Special Snowflakes”…but…I think I can understand why Clair felt awkward. Her kid just projectile vomited…I would be worried. She was probably incredibly distracted. And you wanted her to drive you home and then clean your car right there? Hm…I’m not a parent, but I’m pretty sure if it were one of my nieces, I’d be thinking about other things than driving you what amounts to a 10 min walk.

I do think she should have followed up later and offered to pay for car cleaning. But gossiping about her and her family with the neighbors didn’t really accomplish anything, did it?

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Jenny September 20, 2012 at 6:50 am

Rude not to apologize or say thank you? Yes. But the real etiquette loser in this story is “Mrs. D” who maliciously gossips about others.

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The Elf September 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

I think I could overlook her initial lack of manners because she was concerned for her child. Perhaps overly, but that would still be enough for me to give her a pass. Having failed to thank you on the spot, however, she should have been over the top with thanks later (no more than a day later). She definitely should have offered to pay to have your car cleaned (assuming she could afford it), or offered to clean it herself. If she had called to thank you later and make an inquiry after the car, only to discover you cleaned it yourself, she should have sent you a small token as thanks. A cake or something else along those lines would have been just about right.

I’ve encountered my share of Special Snowflakes. About the only thing you can do is mark them in your mind and resolve not to go out of your way for them any more.

BTW, that’s the first time I’ve heard of “valeted” in that context. I would have used the word “cleaned” or “detailed”. None of those options are wrong. I suppose that’s one of those regional differences!

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Chris September 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

Title: “Rude, Overly Concerned? or the Day I Became a Small Town Gossip.”

Since I’m not a mom, perhaps she didn’t have a right to slightly lose her mind that her youngest child was away for two days, being brought home by someone she barely knew, smelling of vomit.

Sure the devil is in the details – tone, look, treatment over time – but my initial reaction is from all the gossip being used as reason.

Giving an ill child a ride home was a very nice thing you did.

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Kelly September 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

That was the longest and most sarcastic post about someone not saying “thank you” ever.

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scottish_lass September 20, 2012 at 7:58 am

Is the OP not being slightly SS herself by saying how wonderfully well brought up she was and how she would bring a cake as a thank you? This post just rubs me up the wrong way.

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josie September 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’m pretty sure that the lady lives a lonely life…..very few would be on her level. Any comments you would make in fishing for a thanks would most likely be not proper. But yeah, she should of offered to have the interior of your car cleaned.

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Jay September 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

I’m not sure what I should take away from this.. long story. Clair was not polite, and was generally known to think people were beneath her. So I guess that’s just par for the course with her? I don’t see that conversation in the concluding part is merited.. that’s just being rude to someone who’s not being properly appreciative.

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Calliope September 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

Clair was definitely rude, but it sounds like the OP is holding on to an unusual amount of anger over this incident. After I thought the story was over, it just kept going, and going, and going. Clair would probably be satisfied to have had such an effect on someone she doesn’t even know.

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Jessie September 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

While I agree that this Claire woman’s behavior was unacceptable, and that certainly at least a “thank you for being so kind as to bring my sick child home since it was on your way, I apologize that she got sick in your car” was certainly in order, I also think that the OP’s expectation to have her car cleaned, either professionally or by Claire herself, simply because the child vomited is a bit high.
I mean, the kid was ill and OP was obviously informed of the nature of the illness, I would imagine that she took on the misison to bring this child home fully aware of the risk that she may vomit on the way, correct? If it were me, while I would certainly have been squicked out by having to clean vomit out of my car, I would have shrugged off the vomit incident as one of those “there’s always a chance” type of events.

Of course this still does not excuse the Claire woman’s superiority and negligence to even say “thank you for bringing my child home.”

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sv September 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

Okay, no question that Clair was pretty rude not to throw out even the most casual of “Thank you” ‘s for bringing her child down from the mountains. I think we can all agree on that. However, I do have to take issue with the fact that you are relying on gossip as a basis for your opinion of her. If Mrs. D had said to you, ” Oh, Clair is cripplingly shy – she has a great deal of trouble talking to strangers!!” you would not have the opinion of her that you now do. You would have felt pity, or sympathy, or perhaps mild annoyance. Instead, based on gossip, Clair is now a Special Snowflake. From what you described, Clair may very well be a Special Snowflake, and a pretty snobby and rude one at that – but all she has actually done to you is not say thank you for the favour you willingly did. She might also have just been a Mom who was terribly worried about her child and who forgot the social nicities, and then who was too embarrassed to do anything about it later. Not the best of manners but I don’t think it lands her in ehell. After all, you knew the child was sick before you agreed to drive her home.

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Robert September 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

The thing I liked best about this story is at the very beginning I was thinking that if it had been me my response to the silent treatment and lack of gratitude would have been, “Your welcome for saving you a trip and dealing with vomit in your car. Don’t worry, you don’t HAVE to clean my car, I suppose I can do that FOR you and you are welcome for that too.”

As you can imagine I really liked the end of the post!

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Hemi September 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

We have quite a few SSSS’s in my town. Same kind- family has lived here for generations or married into a family who have been here for generations. One of those work at my place of employment- not only has her family been here *forever* but she has worked here *forever*. She’s the QUEEN BEE and you’d best not forget it or she will sure remind you.

Clair *should* have thanked you profusely, paid to have your car professionally valeted/cleaned and maybe another small “thanks for bringing my child home and so sorry she puked in your car” gift. Of course, that’s just what us regular non-SSSS’s do. :)

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Powers September 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

While she certainly could have offered to have the car cleaned, I don’t think you have a right to demand it. You volunteered to transport a sick child, and by doing so, you undertook the risk of having the child get sick in your vehicle. It was an accident, not something anyone did intentionally; sometimes accidents happen.

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Enna September 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

If Clair is going to be like that maybe next time she can drive an hour or ten hours even to the mountain. If I were you op I wouldn’t do anything for her again.

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Michelle P September 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

OP, You. Are. Awesome! Love the post, sorry but I had to laugh. You are a good neighbor and person, don’t let people like this ruin your sense of humor, and down to earth good naturedness. You handled it right the first time. People like that will never get it.

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Cami September 20, 2012 at 10:25 am

Welcome to my world.

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Lambzig September 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

Oh my goodness, just Wow. I am from the UK, so have little understanding of the US society thing, but I do understand the class system in the UK.

I would have thought that having a certain position in society (if she indeed does) would come along with the obligation to be gracious and charming to all (even those as lowly as you OP), set a good example.

Console yourself with the idea that anyone who can be so ill-mannered and obsessed about their status must indeed be a very unhappy and insecure person.

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Cat September 20, 2012 at 10:36 am

Several thoughts on this have occurred to me about this situation.
First, I would not leave a sick child alone to drive someone home nor would I take her with me if she is sick to her stomach and needs to have a bathroom handy.
Second. I would make a point of avoiding Mrs. D in the future. If she is happy to gossip about Clair with you and to tell you Clair said that “You didn’t know who she was”, you can bet she’s running back to Clair to tell her what you said about her.
In high school girls this is known as “Let’s you and him fight!” I have a mother/daughter team in my life that I am told make up and repeat hateful lies about me. When someone asks me about them, my reply is, “Oh, I don’t know them. I have only met the daughter once and I have never spoken to the mother.”
My issue is with the notion that respect has to be earned. During WW II, my father was a non-com and had to salute officers. This made mother furious. She felt the men he had to salute were inferior to Dad: less intelligent, of lesser morals/ethics, not as manly as Dad was…you get the idea.
Dad said, “I salute the uniform, not the man.” and I have followed that rule throughout my life. I respected my teachers, not because they were good people, but because they had authority over me. I give police officers, judges, old people and my bosses the same respect. It’s not the man; it’s the uniform.
You did the right thing to take a sick child home. You cannot expect, or even hope, that anyone will give you the credit for doing it.
I had a principal who was working very hard and he told me he was getting no credit for going over and above his duty. I told him that they crucified Jesus Christ, shot Ghandi and Dr. King, and he should be grateful no-one was taking pot-shots at him. If you get really good at doing the right thing, there are people who will come after you. That’s why Christianity has a list of all those martyrs.
Snob comes from the Latin for “without nobility”. If Clair has an inflated ego, that’s her problem. You did the right thing and ended up with a messy and smelly car. Better to reach the end of your life, look back and be able to say, “I did what was right” rather than, “No one ever knew how truly special I was.”

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Stacey Frith-Smith September 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

Claire should have thanked you. She also should have offered to assist with your car. She didn’t. The rest of the story is all second-hand information which may be perfectly accurate or perfect poppycock. The issue of snowflakes and their specialness is easily solved. Ignore. Decline to pay attention to their demands and accept that they aren’t going to be bothered to offer thanks since they regard courtesy as their due. Any angst and anger only serves to make you unhappy, and you can simply avoid repeating the experience. Surely the fact that someone is so wrongheaded is not in itself provocative to the point of angering you if you have no contact with them? In serving their own dignity, they have no care for the dignity of others, but the punishment for their crime is that they must live with themselves and have their expectations impaled at least occasionally on the horns of the reality that others do not have to comply with their inflated notions of self-importance and their requirements for preferential and even deferential treatment. Your revenge is living your own life well and blissfully free of further interaction with them. I would venture to guess that you are markedly happier with your life than this ancient antagonist, OP.

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Just Laura September 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

As I understand this… submission, the OP took a child to the child’s home (very nice), the child vomited in the car (these things happen), the OP let the child’s mother know about the vomit so that she could attend to the child (makes sense), and the child’s mother didn’t say thanks or sorry (not very nice).
Baking a cake is a bit much (and it would annoy me).

Don’t offer to do anything for this child’s mother in the future. Evidently she is unappreciative.
Gossiping about the child’s mother with others is unnecessary.

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Shalamar September 20, 2012 at 11:07 am

Is it just me, or was this really poorly written? It could have been cut in half, easily, without losing any of the meaning. The unnecessary capitalization of certain words (“she would have been Mortified- Completely out of her Comfort Zone”) was irritating.

That said – I’m sorry OP encountered someone of this nature, but sadly, such boorishness is not limited to the so-called upper class. I’ve met other parents who were apparently in the bathroom when manners were passed out. I could understand Clair being more concerned with her sick child than with “please” and “thank you” at the time, but a phone call later to thank the OP for her kindness and offer to clean the car would have been the right thing to do.

When my husband and I were working in the same office, one of our co-workers got a call from his son’s daycare – his son had fallen off the monkey bars and hurt himself. Co-worker didn’t have a car, so he basically grabbed my husband, said “I need you to drive me”, and off they went. No “please” and no “thank you” – he could think of nothing but his son. Very understandable – however, when the crisis was over, he didn’t say “thank you” then, either.

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Lisa September 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

Goodness. Perhaps Clair was so overwhelmed with the situation that her manners completely escaped her. I would have been inclined to follow up the next day with a phone call to see how the sick child was feeling, and to give the woman a chance to express her gratitude.

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sstabeler September 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

not certain about the line about sending the bill for the car to be valeted- I assume it isn’t cheap, so it might be excessive without Clair volunteering to pay. ( of course, if I had a kid who’d thrown up in someone else’s car, I’d have cleaned it myself.)

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Samantha September 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Perhaps “Ungrateful Ad Nauseam” for the title?

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Kimstu September 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Actually, OP, I think you handled it better all those years ago than you suggest you would have handled it now.

The child was sick, the mother’s rudeness should just have been tactfully ignored, as you did.

Yes, people who consider themselves too good for the ordinary gestures of courtesy and gratitude toward others are a pain in the neck. But the best way to deal with them is simply to avoid them, not to challenge their rudeness. It’s not as though confronting them is going to open their eyes to the tackiness of their behavior.

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Drawberry September 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Maybe I am the only one who took it this way, but the comment about having the OP’s car cleaned I took to be just a joke to express the point in her actions being ignored. I highly doubt the woman was serious.

On that note, I also don’t find her to be holding onto a grudge. This is a website for submissions on bad etiquette, not all of the submissions are going to be from this very morning and I find it a little odd whenever someone submits something taking place many years prior that people automatically assume them bringing the story up again means they’re still scuffed by it. The entire point of the website is to talk about such topics and I am not aware that there is a time-limit imposed upon these submissions.

I think the inclusion of the gossip was not really necessary but that the OP was trying to portray the naivety she had as a young mother in a new town and was essentially being pulled into a big community gossip storm she wasn’t aware of or intended to be part of.

While I am sure we could understand a mother receiving her sick child from another parent would be concerned for the childs welfare, I am sure we can also agree that the tone of which the situation has means the difference between a cold and uninterested person versus a concerned but thankful parent.

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DGS September 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I don’t get from this letter that Clair was worthy of being a special snowflake or that she was a boor. Certainly, she should have thanked OP, but was probably understandably preoccupied with her sick child. Expecting her to bake OP a cake, professionally clean OP’s car (vomit happens with children) and otherwise, genuflect to the OP was ridiculously presumptious on the OP’s part. And the assumptions about Clair being self-righteous and holier than thou because of her wealth/family status/etc. smack of self-righteousness, small-mindedness and pettiness that make OP seem much more boorish than Clair could ever possibly have been.

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Syd September 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

‘Some background’ should go before the story, no? And probably shouldn’t take up more time/space than the actual events.

@Cat: “Snob comes from the Latin for “without nobility”.”
Probably not:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/what-is-the-origin-of-the-word-snob

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Melissa September 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

“That was the longest and most sarcastic post about someone not saying “thank you” ever.”

Yes, yes it was. It also reeked of bitterness and jealousy.

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Cat Whisperer September 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Comments:

This story obviously has some age on it, because nowadays there is no way a teacher would allow a sick child to be taken from a school outing by anyone other than a parent, a person authorized in writing by a parent, or an EMT. At least that’s my experience.

That said, in a situation that involves a child who is sick and vomiting, I’d be a bit hesitant blame a parent for being less than effusively grateful for any services I provided for their child. I know that if another parent brought my child home and my child was as sick as the child in the story was, my first instincts would be to take care of the child. Depending on circumstances, the necessity for IMMEDIATE thanks might elude me, too. I’d want to get my kid cleaned up and either into bed or on the way to the doctor without delay. I really think you have to give a pass on etiquette faux pas where a vomiting child is involved: there are other issues of more immediate concern that need to be dealt with.

That said, I know that when I had time to turn my thoughts to other things, I’d definitely be letting the other parent know how thankful I was for transporting my child, and I’d offer to pay for having their car cleaned. So if the mom of the sick child didn’t follow up with expressions of gratitude and an offer to clean up the car after she dealt with the immediate needs of her sick child, I’d feel a bit put out.

Regarding OP’s comment: “…This experience was a huge eye-opener to me, as I was raised in a large family and taught no-one person is better than another and respect is earned …”

You know, I was taught a lot of platitudes like that by my mother, too. And mom, God rest her soul, meant well and was trying to do her best when she taught me those things. But I’m in my 50’s now, and the disillusionment is complete. I don’t expect other people to necessarily share the values I was taught, and I have a very healthy amount of “Oh, yeah?” cynicism in my makeup. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to do what I believe is right without necessarily expecting rewards, or even minimal thanks, for doing what’s right. Not everyone is going to appreciate my efforts, or express appreciation, and that’s just the way things are.

Some people do have an entitlement complex and an attitude that they are more special (specialer?) than other people. And it’s my experience that such people are usually deeply fearful and insecure and not terribly happy with their lives. FWIW, the older I get, the less I find that concerns me. I have to take care of my own little corner of the universe, so to speak, and keep my own house clean and tend to my own karma. That takes up enough of my time and energy that I genuinely don’t find time to give snobs a second thought after I’ve identified them and concluded that they believe I don’t measure up in their world.

And when you think about it, isn’t that the best revenge possible against someone who thinks they’re a “special snowflake” and demeans your value as a human being? To move on and forget they even exist?

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Shannon September 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Wow, I hope this OP doesn’t move to my town. If I forget to hire a skywriter to thank her for a holiday fruitcake, she’ll trash my reputation all over town and compose numerous essays about me, full of exclamation points and wild assumptions.

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Stepmomster September 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm

If this is how you react to a missing thank you, maybe SHE has heard of YOU being a gossip and has been avoiding you, just to find that you bring her daughter home and now have a story to tell everyone she knows… add that to the guilt of not driving her own daughter home and her obviously sick child, and i can see her abruptly running into the house.

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Brenda September 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

It is inappropriate for the OP to be gossiping about others, but seriously, has anyone on this board ever had to clean up a car where projective vomiting has taken place? Remember, the vomit struck not only the back seat, but the front seat, and I’m sure spread to the floor. It’s a horrifying and disgusting thing, and very expensive.

Frankly, I would not have gone gossiping about, but would have had the car cleaned and then forwarded the bill to Clair. If she refused to pay it, then I might go gossiping about (but I’m certainly not going to claim I’m perfect, and I will bet that there is not a single person on this site who could honestly claim they have never gossiped in their lives).

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Margaret September 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

When I read this post, I recognized the dynamics. I was surprised at so many comments being skeptical about whether Claire really was as awful as the OP thought. Having lived in a small town all my life, I can tell you with assurance that these people absolutely exist. I moved to my current town when I was in early elementary school. For the next ten years or so, whenever I was asked where I was from, my answer was, “I live in Xville right now, but I’m from Ytown.” I remember when I was a teenager, someone wrote a letter to the editor of the paper (this is a relatively rare event – you don’t see half a dozen letters in a year) complaining that even if you have lived in the town for twenty years, you are still considered an outsider. And it’s true! It’s better now than it was, but some places are very cliquey. If it’s never been your misfortune to experience this, count your blessings. I also point out that the OP doesn’t say that the vomit incident was the only snobbish thing that Claire did. She said that Claire had previously been unfriendly towards her, but OP hadn’t clued in as to the reason.

I’m also surprised at the people who think Claire had no obligation to clean up her daughter’s vomit. Seriously? Have you ever cleaned up vomit? I am the kind of per son who can barely not vomit myself when dealing with that stuff, and still, if my child vomits, I consider it my responsibility to clean it up. Likewise if my child has an accident and damages something, I don’t just tell myself, oh well, these things happen, they can deal with it – my child, my responsibility.

I loved Cat’s comment (I usually do), and I also get annoyed with people, ESPECIALLY kids, who say that someone has to earn their respect. Um, no. Maybe they have to earn your admiration, but you should be respectful towards everyone, and it’s supremely arrogant to think that everyone has to prove themselves to you. I’ve noticed that those same people who very strongly assert that someone has to earn their respect, always take it for granted that they are deserving of respect themselves.

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LS September 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I was waiting in line to get into a movie once when (soon to be ex-) wife of Famous Country Singer breezed in with her entourage, ignored the line and made a show of going right in. Some of us in line just chuckled at her ostentation, for this was a just a discount dollar theater and it just made her look cheap.

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travestine September 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I think one would have to be a newly-arrived resident (by the community’s standards) of a small place to really understand the OP’s point.

I recently became more involved in the small community (less than 2500 residents) where I have lived for two years. This community is strongly divided into two factions – and I have become associated with one faction, not by conscious choice, necessarily, but by the group with which I chose to volunteer, which is perceived by one faction as being on the ‘wrong’ side. My group does not take sides, it is the perception of the more polarized side that puts us in the ‘wrong’.

The biggest complaint by the other faction in the community is that I have “only” lived in the community for two years, whereas others have lived here for upwards of 15 to 25 years, if not longer. Personally, I don’t care – I am as committed to my community as anyone else – I just don’t have the history.

Until one has lived in a small community with deep roots, it’s hard to communicate how entitled those who feel they are “big fish in small ponds” really are, and how important it is, at times, for relative newcomers to understand the social history of a community. There is a difference between “gossip” and “knowledge”.

And thanking her mother for instilling her with good values does not make the OP an SS. I thank my parents every day for the values imparted to me – especially when I see the bigotry and ignorance displayed daily in some places.

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MiseryLovesYou September 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

OP took a lot of heat in some of the comments that were posted, some deserved, some not. The only thing I can add that hasn’t already been stated is that I was initially inclined to believe the OP’s viewpoint about the other mother being a snob because I know lots of folks just like that. Anyone who works in corporate America knows there is a waterline – it’s the point at which people above a certain rank get a complex about their superiority. The best part is that some people below that waterline want so desperately to be above it that they suck up to the people above the line relentlessly, reinforcing their belief in their own superiority. So based on my experience this didn’t sound like an exaggeration, some people really do think they are above having to treat others with courtesy. The best thing to do is lead by example, although shame on everyone who said to just let it go – if OP did that, what would we read for entertainment today?

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Cat September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I just recalled this rather funny incident about asking for payment for things one voluntarily does for others. My elderly aunt took a terrible fall down a flight of stairs, broke her arm and pelvis in two places, and was in a medically induced coma for several months. She then went to a nursing home until she recovered enough to fly home.
One of her nieces then mailed her a bill for the gas money she had used going to visit the aunt while she was unconscious (it was only a couple of miles) as well as for ten pairs of underwear she had purchased and had given to the aunt-even though she knew auntie was in adult diapers and did not need and could not wear the underwear. Auntie ignored the bill and niece never got her money.

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Jones September 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

She should have said “Thank you.” OP did a good thing. However, OP then did a bunch of not-so-good things, including gossiping and participating in an overly judgemental local attitude that may have made an introvert more standoffish.

I know, interesting assumption on my part there. But compared to the assumptions made on the OP and Mrs. D’s parts, at least mine is charitable.

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Mabel September 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm

OP, it seems you are assuming a lot about Clair. She was probably worried about her kid and just didn’t manage to observe the niceties. If she is a snob, that’s not your problem.

Anyway, we don’t do nice things for people to be lauded. We do them because they are nice. Forget about it.

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Carrie September 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Clair may be a standoffish, holier-than-thou person, but she’s not the only offender in this interminable post. In a town this small, I’m sure Clair found out about the OP’s asking around and is wisely avoiding OP.

The vomit really should be assumption of the risk when you choose to transport a sick child, and hoping for someone to pay to have your car cleaned is over the top. Accidents happen. Move on.

As an aside, why so many exclamation points and unnecessary capitalization?

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RMM0278 September 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Yikes.

You’re making a lot of assumptions here — namely the one where this woman should act the way that you would (or the way you THINK you would). That’s arrogance, which is a lot more boorish than not offering to clean up your kid’s vomit.

I get that she probably could have thanked you or been a bit more gracious. But c’mon…her kid just vomited. She was probably distracted and embarrassed too. I know I would be. And how many people could pull off perfection and grace you want in such a situation? You’re not being fair to her, especially because I’m not convinced she was acting as standoffish and rude as you describe.

Your whole narrative is totally biased, and you made a LOT of leaps in logic. There was simply no way this poor woman could win in your eyes. And what’s up with basing an entire opinion on Clair from another woman’s explanation? See you two THOUGHT you had this Clair all figured out, but you didn’t really. Your interpretation is based on pure speculation. Did either one of you ever think to talk to this woman? Engage her in discussion? Invite her to an event? Reach out? Did you bother to find out what her background was? Did you ask her how she felt about her upbringing?

No because it’s far easier to negatively judge someone in five seconds than it is to get to know someone.

I don’t mean to pile on as I’ve seen other commenters. But you should reread what you wrote about this woman and think it over. How would you like it if someone made snap judgments of you based on one interaction?

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kingsrings September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

While I think the OP was definitely over the top and inappropriate for most of her submission, I took take issue with the notion that she shouldn’t have expected or wanted her car cleaned. Like Brenda said, this is a big, disgusting, costly clean-up job. It’s not like cleaning up vomit from a floor at home. I know these things happen and it’s not anyone’s fault, but it still would be a nice courtesy for the parent of the child who threw up all over the car to take some initiative to either clean it up themselves, or offer to pay for the cleaning to be done, after their child has become better.

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Barensmom September 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I have to take issue with those PPs who say that Claire doesn’t owe the OP the cost of cleaning the vomit out of her car. In my neck of the woods, cleaning bodily fluids out of a car requires the detailer wear a hazmat suit and gloves. A normal detail job (w/o fluids) is around $200. Add vomit, blood, etc., it can run over $400. It sounds like the OP had to self-clean a nasty mess out of her car, which probably damaged the seats, carpet, etc., and left a residual smell that reminded her of Claire’s ungraciousness for years.

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RedDevil September 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I don’t believe I would want to eat a cake baked in the house where a child obviously has some sort of (possibly contagious) stomach bug. Nice way to say thanks in other circumstances, but after I’d recently cleaned up vomit from said child in that house? Thanks, but no thanks.

I have to wonder, why wasn’t this child provided with a bucket or bag for the car trip home? Seems like common sense to me.

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