The Secondhand Reported Offense

by admin on October 9, 2013

About six months after my mom passed, and approximately eight months before my husband’s brother and girlfriend (I’ll call her Lisa) are to get married; Lisa, her sister Penny, and another friend of theirs came for a visit at my house, and turned a rather pleasant afternoon into something I’m still amazed over.

We all sat down to chat, and then Lisa started the next hour of conversation with:
“Why do you always talk to Mother-in-law about bargains you’ve found or garage sales, and why do you shop at Goodwill? You shouldn’t shop there, you have enough money to shop at (list of stores) and it looks bad when you talk about how much money you saved.” I was a little taken aback but responded that since my mom passed, I was conversing with mother-in-law about the things I used to talk about easily with Mom and was probably hoping to fill in the gap.

Nods all around.

And then the list of things I shouldn’t do went on: “I only call Penny when I need something” (not really true, I help Penny out with her son’s school projects occasionally, but I guess this is their perception). I apologized. And previously, when Lisa showed me the engagement ring, I exclaimed how big it was, which was off-putting. Yes, that was a gaffe on my part. I apologized. My parenting skills were addressed. My son is a happy, thriving child, full of smiles and he sleeps through the night. I’m very proud of him, albeit I’m a new mom and I’m sure I make mistakes. Lisa has no children yet. This continued while I looked for a way to escape my own home or change the subject to bean dip, but Lisa was on a mission. Finally, they left and I was utterly depressed for days. I wasn’t sure if Mother-in-law had mentioned her annoyance at my subject matter to Lisa, although it seemed unlikely. Mother-in-law never said anything bad about anyone.

The wedding is fast approaching and I’m still unsure how to approach or deal with Lisa. Since our conversation, I have “laid low” and have been civil, or as my mom would have suggested, I have smiled and been polite. I haven’t mentioned bargain shopping or saving money to Mother-in-law, and she hasn’t mentioned that she’s noticed any change in our conversations, which are always pleasant. Maybe one of these days, I’ll ask. I haven’t reached out to talk to Penny at all, nor has she called me.

I know it’s been a few months since this happened, but I still feel stung and astonished. I haven’t mentioned any of it to anyone else, except for right now at this writing. Has anyone ever been in a situation like this? Is it common? I’ve never had such an experience, and would rather avoid having it occur again.  1002-13

Lisa has ensconced herself as the family busybody before she’s even married.    And that is exactly how you should view her….a meddling, divisive busybody.   Almost every family has one and the way I deal with it is to refuse to discuss problems with people who are neither part of the problem nor the solution.    If a relative has an offense against me, that person is free to come discuss it with me but I do not entertain secondhand reports of someone else’s alleged offense from people who thrive on this kind of family drama.   Several years ago I was approached by a relative who claimed to speak for another relative about an offense this person had against yet another relative.   Did you get that?   Person A is allegedly offended at Person D so it goes through Person B to Person C (being me) and I am supposed to either be the mediator for Persons A and D or be the gossipy reporter to Person D.    I promptly took Person B to task for being willing to listen to Person A’s gripes and then come gossiping to me about it.   Person A can put on their big kid pants, grow some Spauldings and arrange to address the issues with Person D at any time but I will not be drawn into this drama.   And until Person A does speak with Person D, I’m going to assume there is no current issues between the two.   Person A never contacted Person D.

If your MIL has not mentioned any issues she has with you, I would continue living life as if nothing were amiss and dismiss Lisa’s lecture as the work of the family gossip.   Meanwhile you should examine yourself to make sure there is no crumb of truth to what Lisa claims.   Talking to MIL about issues that are of special interest to you only or using her to fill the motherless gap you have is somewhat selfish.    Unless your child is a raging brat, I would ignore Lisa’s ignorant child training observations, too.

Where is your husband in all this?   What does he think of the situation?

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

CaffeineKatie October 9, 2013 at 3:07 am

I wonder if the MIL has praised OP to Lisa, and this is Lisa’s jealous reaction to the good relationship MIL and OP have developed? Whatever the reason, POD the Admin’s advice!

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Kat October 9, 2013 at 4:12 am

While I do agree with Admin, I do have a comment about your shopping habits.

I see nothing wrong with talking about it, or going to garage sales, or couponing etc. But from what I understand with what you’ve said, is that you shop at goodwill even though you can easily afford not to.

I’ve seen many people happily bragging about this on the internet, claiming that they’re upper middle class, or can easily afford to shop at regular stores, etc, and encouraging everyone to do it, and why pay full retail when you can get stuff for penny’s on the dollar, and frankly, I find the attitude sickening. Most people who shop at goodwill go there because they NEED to, not because “OMG! THEY HAVE GREAT STUFF SOOO CHEAP!!1!”, but when wealthier people come along and buy all the good stuff, it leaves nothing decent left for those who really need it. It’s a place meant to help the truly needy – not your own bargain basement.

I volunteer at Goodwill frequently and see this entitled attitude, and it breaks my heart. Hipsters and bargain hunters come in, snatch up anything of value, and leave people who can’t afford anything else with nothing, and then people who are there to donate see it in action, and don’t want to donate anymore because they see where their stuff is going. They want it to go to in-need children, or people trying to get back on their feet, or looking for decent work clothes to be able to get a decent job, not middle class yuppies looking for designer clothes for $5.

Please, anyone who reads this and has done this or considers doing this when they can afford to go else where, don’t. You’re not ‘getting an amazing deal’, you’re taking from the needy.

And by the way, OP, I’m not assuming you do this (ie – that your finances aren’t so tight that you need to shop at goodwill), just that the subject of people shopping there when they don’t need to was brought up. I have no idea of your situation, and wish you the best of luck dealing with your FSIL. :)

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Lauren October 9, 2013 at 6:12 am

I have been blindsided many times by people like Lisa. I think it happens to me because I am generally happy and approachable and smile a lot. Some people think that since I am easy to talk to they instantly feel familiar, and often overstep. When I was younger I would do nothing at the time, but then agonize over it for ages. I absolutely loathe being guarded around people. I am always stunned by rudeness of people and I really don’t see any way to change that. I just can’t be cold and stand-offish, so I have had to learn how to shut these “helpful suggestions” down the second they happen.
The last time someone tried to critique my life (without my asking) I laughed and asked them if they were serious, because I hardly knew them/didn’t ask for any advice – and I’ve found that no matter how rude people are, they always act with utter astonishment when they are called out on it.

And remember this for the future, if anyone announces to you “I’m a straight shooter,” get ready, because you are about to get hit right between the eyes. I have never, ever heard this phrase uttered without being followed up by them saying something completely rude, presumptuous and incredibly ignorant. I tell them to put their guns away, because I didn’t come to this event looking for a fight. I find it best to be superficially polite to them, but avoid them like the plague whenever possible. Since this is a family member, it will be harder, but you can’t be the only person who thinks she is horrible.

If I were you, I would apologize to your mother-in-law for not realizing how uncomfortable you were making her with your choice of conversation. I bet she’ll tell off Lisa for having a big mouth…that is, IF Lisa’s interpretation of the mother-in-law’s opinions were correct. I have a feeling your mother-in-law made some innocent off-handed joke about your bargain shopping and Lisa, out of spite or jealousy, purposefully distorted your mother-in-law’s meaning or intention.

And Kat, it was good to hear your opinions about the abuse of Goodwill by people with money. I always felt uneasy when someone I knew that could afford retail bragged about their “finds.”

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o_gal October 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

Kat, the last time I looked, a Goodwill store was just that, a store. There are no signs at the entrance telling potential shoppers that if you make more than $X amount of money, you are not allowed to shop there. Anyone, and that means anyone, rich or poor, is entitled to shop there. By shopping there, Goodwill makes money. It doesn’t matter from whom it comes. Most Goodwill shops around this area are in the suburbs, in areas without good public transportation. And these suburbs are the more affluent ones. This may or may not make it easier for poorer people to get to them. So if Goodwill is only supposed to sell to poor people, the store location makes it very, very hard for those people to reach it. What are they supposed to do, let the merchandise sit there unsold because of their chosen location?

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Charliesmum October 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

It doesn’t even sound like she was saying MIL cared about the bargain shopping conversation, just that you’re making the family look bad because you talk about saving money. It sounds like she’s one of those people who think you have to maintain a certain ‘status’ because of your financial class. It seems more of a ‘snobby’ POV rather than telling you you are bothering MIL with the conversation.

I personally enjoy finding bargains, either on discount racks or at thrift stores. (and I always donate clothes to Goodwill or other charity shops, just FYI). It is something my mother and I do that together, and enjoy talking about so I can sympathise with you, OP, for missing that connection.

As far as the mothering advice – that’s rather typical of some as yet childless people. They think they know exactly how to do it, because they haven’t actually done it yet! I’m pretty sure I was like that, although I am proud to say I was not stupid enough to ever critizise someone’s parenting habits out loud. And I soon learned my lesson when I had my own child!

In short, I agree that she’s just one of those busy-body types, and I also agree that maybe she is a bit jealous of your position in her future husband’s family.

Good luck with everything, and big hugs from a stranger on the internet for having to deal with that.

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Kat October 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

o_gal – I used goodwill as an example because it was mentioned by name by the OP, but despite how you like to try and justify it, goodwill is NOT a store. It is a federally mandated CHARITY and everything people ‘buy’ for ridiculously marked down prices were donated for the express purpose of going to the needy – not into some middle class bargain hunters collection of the week.

And goodwill and all the other CHARITIES like it are meant for one thing – to help the NEEDY, not the greedy! If you can’t see the damage in wealthy people coming in and buying all the merchandise meant to help the poor, then I really have nothing more to say to you.

I hope you have a nice day, and you never find your self in need of a helping hand to find it’s not there.

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Another Sarah October 9, 2013 at 7:01 am

@Kat – I’m from the UK not the US so you’ll have to excuse me if this is a cultural thing but I just don’t get your post.
As I understand it, Goodwill is a US national charity that runs what we in the UK call charity shops – in the UK we have about a gazillion different charities who all do the same thing as part of their fundraising, I have volunteered for a few different ones. People donate clothes and goods to the store who then sells them on and uses the profits to fund its particular charity – in the case of Goodwill it plows that money into community programs and helps people find work, many of whom would not be able to get a job through a more normal route for whatever reason. It is mostly staffed by volunteers.
The point of the model is to sell stuff so it can fund its charity programs, so why does it matter who it sells it to?
It’s a nice perk that it provides low price clothes for people who can’t afford to go elsewhere, but that’s not why it exists and by BUYING from Goodwill, people are donating their money to community programs to help the truly needy. I am utterly bewildered by the suggestion that this is somehow not ok? Please if this is a cultural thing, explain it to me because I just don’t understand why you would think that.

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Abby October 9, 2013 at 7:02 am

I agree OGal. A goodwill is not a food bank. It’s a used goods store with prices conducive to used items. And everyone has a chance to shop there.

Back to the issue at hand, OP. Did Lisa say all these complaints were coming from your MIL? Or are these her own observations? She’s either an untrustworthy gossip or a malicious troublemaker and you have my sympathies. Admin is right though- ignore any secondhand complaints.

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Jewel October 9, 2013 at 7:13 am

I don’t think Lisa is a busy-body. I think she’s a Mean Girl. She’s figured out how to best attack you for maximum impact and did so for the pure pleasure of it. Please, for your sake, employ the “cool shoulder” with her from here on out. Do your best to avoid ever being alone with her or with her when the only other people around are her “cohorts”. If she approaches you to start in on you again anyway, shut her down immediately. Tell her that you’re not interested in hearing her opinions about you and she can keep her criticisms to herself. Suggest that she focus on her own life instead of trying to tear down other people. It may be hard for you to be that blunt, but it’ll save you from a lot of future grief. (And, I second the advise to ask your Mother in Law if what Lisa said was true. It’ll serve several purposes including “outing” Lisa — something she figures you’re too nice or afraid to do.)

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Jazzgirl205 October 9, 2013 at 7:26 am

Kat, For years I volunteered at a thrift store whose proceeds went to providing houses for the needy. We were in an affluent area (as was the Goodwill a mile away) and we didn’t care who bought our goods as long as we got the funds for our charity. Besides, the very poor who could not afford to go elsewhere did not buy the same things as the more prosperous. They did not buy the $10 sterling candlesticks or the $0.25 damask dinner napkins or Grandma’s fine china that the family didn’t want. They bought work clothes, the occasional Sunday suit or dress, children’s clothes and baby items, kitchen implements, and out of date children’s textbooks. They tended to avoid designer clothes for some reason and they did not buy anything you or I would call “vintage.” Thrift stores are not there to sell the poor cheap items, they are there to earn money for their charity which usually is poverty-centered.

In regards to the OP, Lauren is right. When Lisa says something like that, just laugh. This is very empowering. It sounds like it wouldn’t be, but just try it. It put you in charge of the situation. Don’t brood over Lisa either. It gives her a power she doesn’t deserve.

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E October 9, 2013 at 7:34 am

I have to disagree with Kat as well. Your position seems “age-ist” to me. Needy people only come in the form of elderly and young mothers? I hate to tell you, but teenagers and early twentysomethings are often living paycheck to paycheck as well and don’t usually have the money to shop at other stores unless their parents give them money. I would tone down the judgment of your customers – you don’t know what peoples’ financial situation is just by looking at the them or knowing their zip code. Ever heard of “house poor”? These people might be squealing about the “deal” they got so that their friends don’t realize that they actually have to shop at a thrift store. I give donations to Salvation Army all the time, and I really don’t care who gets my goods – the stores benefit people in more than just who gets the stuff – the profits are also used for good works.

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Miss-E October 9, 2013 at 7:51 am

I didn’t know it was a gaffe to mention the size of someone’s engagement ring…

And what on earth is wrong with looking for bargains? Just because you can afford higher prices doesn’t mean you should pay for things that are marked up! And while I can see how a person could go overboard bragging about the great deals they found to the point of being obnoxious, I don’t think that being proud of being thrifty is a bad thing.

It’s a pretty classist idea to tell people that they shouldn’t bargain hunt if they can afford full price. Who is to say how OP wants to spend her money?

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PM October 9, 2013 at 7:53 am

So, basically, Lisa and her sister and friend held a tribunal where they told you about all of your “personality flaws?” What a wench. Honestly, I would have invited her to leave my house after the first reported “offense.” I hate that you’ve changed your personality and the way you interact with your MIL based on this twit’s assessment of your behavior. Please stop letting crazy people control you. Until your MIL tells you that conversations about bargains bother her, talk about what you want.

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Phoebelion October 9, 2013 at 7:58 am

Kat – I take offense at your attitude. While I have NEVER found great bargains at any resale store, my shopping there is part of the reason you and yours have never had to support me via welfare, food stamps, etc.

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Jezebel October 9, 2013 at 7:59 am

Kat, I am astonished by your remarks about Goodwill stores.
Like o_gal mentioned…they are stores. They are there for everybody to buy from. You should be glad someone is buying and supporting the organization. The purpose is to support Goodwill and the employment it provides for people. I’m not taking from the needy, I’m supporting the needy. I have donated many, many items over the years and I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination but I feel no shame what so ever in buying items from them even though I could shop some where else. Why would anyone voluntarily pay more for an item then they have to? Everyone has the same opportunity to buy the same items at the same the price that I do. Should I not buy something because someone else might come in later and want it?
That reminds me of something that happened recently. I was in a bakery and wanted to buy a dozen of a certain kind of donut. It happened to be the last dozen that they had and the kid behind the counter didn’t want to sell me the whole dozen in case someone else came in later and wanted some. The manager came out and just rolled her eyes and sold me the donuts that I wanted.

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Huh October 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

You know, the “is that person poor enough to shop at Goodwill” thing is something that may be all in the judger’s perspective. I have a friend A who shops Goodwill stores, usually trying to find random knick knacks or board games for her kids, and has, in the past, bought her kids clothes there (she also loves garage sales.) She’s a single parent with an income that JUST covers usual expenses if she keeps with budget and does nothing outside of it, bargain shops, cuts coupons, etc. Would she qualify? My friend B who has a high-paying job would say yes friend A does, there’s no way she could imagine living on what friend A does. My friend C who makes less than friend A may argue (though I doubt she would) that no friend A makes more than her, so she should stay out. See what I mean?

Anyway, back to subject of letter – what I’m still not quite understanding is soon-to-be sister-in-law Lisa is complaining that LW only talks to Lisa’s sister Penny when she needs something (which LW disputes). The basic complaint seems to be that Letter Writer doesn’t talk to Penny enough, who is her sister-in-law’s sister! The only times I see my SIL’s siblings is at her kids’ birthday parties! We are friendly acquaintances at best, and I would just guess that is pretty normal. That’s a pretty extended branch of a family tree!

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moll October 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

Kat, I can appreciate your position on Goodwill, which is very well-stated, but I see it differently. The Goodwill website says: “When you shop at Goodwill®, you are supporting job training and placement programs for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. Goodwill stores feature gently used and new items that are bargains for smart shoppers.” Since the organization presents shopping at Goodwill as a way to raise funds for their projects (retail sales make up 3.53 billion dollars of their revenue), it doesn’t feel to me like Goodwill, itself, doesn’t want me shopping there.

I grew up middle class and my parents had a waste not/ want not approach. Could we technically have afforded to buy firsthand? Sure, but then things like kids clothes (which they quickly grow out of) would have eaten up more of my family’s budget. My mom’s perspective was that it’s better to use goods a second time around then to add to the demand for new things. 20 years later, a lot of environmentalists tout the same message.

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Rebecca October 9, 2013 at 8:10 am

To the person who asked that certain people not shop at Goodwill….

Goodwill isn’t only a place for “the needy” to shop. Many people prefer to recycle quality clothing rather than spend too much on clothes that will fall apart far too soon – which, sadly, are most new clothes these days. You absolutely cannot tell by looking at someone if they can “afford” to shop at other stores and are going to Goodwill only for the bargains or the “thrill of the hunt” anyway. To believe that you can is presumptuous and rude. Because someone is well put together doesn’t necessarily mean they have money – it could simply be that they have personal pride and good taste. If people stop shopping at Goodwill stores, they will cease to exist, and then nobody benefits. It is absolutely acceptable and quite wonderful for all people to shop at and support Goodwill stores. I think it’s lovely to see not only the stigma of shopping at Goodwill stores disappear, but also to see more people appreciating the value of a dollar.

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Kat October 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

I sincerely apologize if I offended anyone in this thread, that was not my intent. I won’t comment again since clearly my opinion on this matter is so unpopular.

I hope you all have a nice day! :)

And for the record, E, I know exactly how broke young people can be. I’m 23, disabled and very poor, but seeing how desperately poor some of the people who come into Goodwill are, it makes me defensive of them, and the people who go in there and take everything at bargain prices that is their only chance of every owning them.

But again, I apologize if I came off rude. I certainly never intended to be.

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BH October 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

I’m more appalled at Kat’s comments than the original story-I’m glad O_gal said it first. OP seems like a lovely person who is going through an unfortunate time.
My husband and I used to visit Goodwill often, we would make a day going to the the stores in our area, just like antique shopping on a budget. It’s a store, maybe the so-called-poor people / needy people got there before the rich / hipster / etc… and thought the stuff was junk – how would you know? THAT’s extremely judgmental on your part. Another person’s “trash” could be another person’s “treasure”. We donate to Goodwill because we don’t want to through away something that could be useful to someone else. If some would rather consign rather than donate to Goodwill – that’s up to the donor.
OP Discussing this with your mother-in-law shouldn’t be a big deal. Mother-in-law is a big girl and you definitely should discuss the situation with her, explaining how upset you were to find out 2nd hand – she sounds like a pleasant enough person, hearing that “Mother-in-law never said anything bad about anyone.” She probably said something in jest, just ask her if it bugged her and explain why, just as you posted on here. She may even be honored that you were able to open up to her as you have. I lost my father many years ago, it’s a hard thing at any age.

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Kat October 9, 2013 at 8:18 am

And I can’t be the only one who thinks the smiley face looks creepy and sarcastic, can I?

Here’s a better one!

=-)

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Lisa Marie October 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

I wouldn’t let what Lisa said bother me and asking MIL about the bargain conversations is a good idea.
I bet your MIL really wants to help you with the recent loss of your own mom and enjoys your company very much. She sounds like a nice person. You are now seeing Lisa’s, and I would include Penny here, true colors and in future I would be civil but not overly friendly with either one of them. The old saying you can pick your friends but not your relatives is very true.

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Nicole October 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

I find the opinion about who should rightfully shop at Goodwill to be offensive. What business is it of your’s (or in the OP’s case, the future sister-in-law) how much money anyone else makes and who are you to decide how to spend that money for them? From what I can tell, the purpose of Goodwill is not to provide cheap clothing or household items to people in need, but to have the stores themselves provide JOBS to people in need. Donate Stuff, Create Jobs. The busier a store is, the more jobs can be provided. As a volunteer (does that take away from a paid position, I wonder?) you should be encouraging everyone to shop there in order to create more opportunities for people to get a start in the workforce. I imagine if I get a great find at Goodwill more of that money stays in the community and helps people than if I buy the same item retail for $70 or $100 in a store. A pittance goes to the cashier or retail worker and the rest makes some CEO rich.
And honestly, if I didn’t buy it at Goodwill, I probably wouldn’t buy it at all. The option is not $1.50 fancy bag or $70 fancy bag retail, it is $1.50 fancy bag or $20 bag from Target (or more likely keep my own purse until it falls apart). Or $4 work khakis that turn out to be $110 retail, that I didn’t even know about until I asked someone else at work where I could find another pair of Lucky Brand pants because they were so nice. Wait, does that make me middle class yuppie or legitimate needy person?

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Lo October 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

I had a big reply but it got eaten which is just as well because it was probably more snippy than necessary.

Lisa is toxic. Keep away from her. Get your husbands support and the next time she starts in on criticizing you in your own home stand up and say, “This coversation is over.” The two of you should be able to work together to keep people like this from interfereing in your lives. What she did is awful.

Kat, respectfully I could not disagree more with your position. You work at Goodwill and I do not so you may have insight that I don’t. But Goodwill is not a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. My income level is no one’s business and neither are the stores that I shop at. I shop there all the time and I donate to Goodwill frequently, it’s where all my good quality used clothes go. It has never occured to me for a minute to consider whether I can afford to shop at a higher priced store when there are so many good bargains to be had at Goodwill.

Honestly, I’ve been thrift shopping for years. When I came to realize that thirft shopping had become trendy I was relieved. Finally, the stigma of “poor people’s clothing” is going out the window. Americans are learning to spend wisely and appreciate the benefit buying secondhand provides. The poor are no more entitled to Goodwill than anyone else. Would that everyone could ese the benefit of secondhand, maybe the overpriced clothing shops at malls would be forced to reconsider their alliegance to brand/trend over durability.

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yokozbornak October 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Kat, you are way off base. I shop at Goodwill frequently even though I really don’t have to, but I like a good bargain and don’t see the point in paying retail for anything. That being said, my mom worked for Goodwill for quite a while. Goodwill is not in the business to sell cheap stuff to poor people. Their goal is to provide job training for individuals with few skills and/or disabilities. My mom was widowed after 40 years of marriage and had never worked outside the home. Goodwill provided her with on-the-job training so she could get better employment. I will gladly use my dollars to support them and their mission, and I get great bargains to boot.

OP, your future SIL sounds like a nasty witch. Pay no attention to what she says because she just isn’t worth it.

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Library Diva October 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

Most charity shops I’ve visited (Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, etc.) are so chock-full, with buckets of new donations coming in every day. When I shop there, I’m not really concerned with “taking” from anyone. St. Vincent de Paul, in particular, does outstanding work with the poor in my area. When I buy from their shop, the money goes towards the free lunches and dinners that they serve daily, and to the shelter that they run.

In my region, there are also several organizations set up that are NOT open to any comers, and are designed specifically to help people who can’t afford clothing and household goods. At those organizations, they don’t pay a thing for these items, and I’d agree that there’s a special place in hell for anyone who tries to weasel their way in there when they can afford these things on their own. But regular charity shops? To me, those are for everyone.

Anyway, as to the original post…I feel for OP. It’s got to be very hurtful to be blindsided like that by someone you thought you had a good relationship with, and in front of others, too. I don’t have any advice to add, just sympathy and hopes that you can move past this and that it doesn’t damage your relationship with the other parties.

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Stepmomster October 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

sounds like Lisa might be a jealous girl. If mom-in-law complained to her, which I can’t see, considering she isn’t even part of the family, then I doubt Mom-in-law wanted lisa to come over and tell you about yourself. I think you can chalk up the whole thing to her and her sister being busy bodies and brats. I bet you anything her family has to endure these little interventions whenever sister-dearest is feeling insecure. Put it out of your mind, and just be normal with Mom-in-law. I would suggest also saying “Lisa mentioned it was rude that I talk about my bargain shopping with you, i had no idea I babbled on so much! I hope it didn’t bother you” and let Mom-in-law

A. realize her conversations between her and Lisa are not private, and
B. see that you are able to accept criticism in a pleasant way, and maybe she should talk to you next time instead of everyone else.

DO NOT turn the conversation into a Lisa bashing session. it will just cause tension and your mom in law will feel like she has to choose between the two of you.

*if you can’t have that conversation without being upset, i would ignore it and move on. it seems like mom in law is fine with your company. as long as you are still getting invited to family events, ignore Lisa.

Finally, Kat, Goodwill is for everyone. The money for what they sell is used for all kinds of programs helping the homeless, if someone comes in and buys everything up, there are children out there who are getting new school supplies that are in foster care, families that have housing provided for them, respite care, ect.

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Angel October 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

It sounds like Lisa and her friend had the OP cornered and decided to focus on what they believe to be “flaws.” The OP should try to look at it from another perspective–these people are not her friends and they are not even family–they are nasty, critical jerks who chose to pick on a vulnerable person who just lost her mother. I don’t know about you but that to me is the lowest of the low. Who gives a crap where you shop, how you interact with your own in-laws? And they are YOUR in-laws, you married into the family–and she’s not even married yet.

If you have a good relationship with your family and your own in-laws, these people should be looked at for what they are, big a-holes with nothing better to do that to criticize. Personally I’m all for shopping at the Goodwill, my money’s just as green as anyone else’s and I’m not going to pay full retail price for something if I don’t have to. The money all goes to charity.

I’m sorry that the OP felt depressed about this interaction for days afterwards. It sucks that she let it get to her that much. I hope that she remembers the next time she deals with “Lisa” to keep it superficial and civil, but don’t let her see beneath the surface. Save the real interaction for people who’ve got your back ;-)

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Mary October 9, 2013 at 8:50 am

Although I agree with Kathy in a small way. People who coupon and clear shelves in the name of donating all of the items bother me. I don’t qualify for food shelves, but coupon to make ends meet. I usually only buy a limited number of the bargain items to leave the deal for other people.
I do shop at thrift stores in order to make ends meet. However, many people might make it to the upper middle class solely because they are thrifty with their money. Plus many people shop at thrift stores for environmental reasons. Why buy brand new items when there are already existing items out there to be reused? Reduce, reuse and recycle.

OP, I would have a little chat with your MIL. MIL will either realize how nasty Lisa is or if Lisa was speaking the truth, she will realize that Lisa is not one to confide in because she can’t keep her mouth shut. Hopefully you will find out how MIL truly feels. Plus you have learned that Lisa is not to be trusted!

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Phoebe161 October 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

OP tried to bean-dip; Lisa refused to let the subject go. That’s when you grow a polite spine and tell Lisa that’s not a subject you will not discuss with her. If once doesn’t work, use the stuck record technique. (“Lisa, my conversations with MIL are between MIL and me.” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. “Lisa, I would rather not discuss this subject with you.” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Most people give up when they get the same message over & over, no, you don’t have to give a reason why you refuse to discuss something.) She sounds like a first-class bully.

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AE October 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

Another perspective on the thrift shopping thing.
I don’t care to support many clothing manufacturers because of their labor practices. So I put my clothing budget to supporting charity rather than lining the pockets of some corporate jerks who don’t care one bit about the living/working conditions of the people who make their product.

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Abby October 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

The goodwill website actually encourages all shoppers to patronize their stores. Go and check next time you feel “uneasy” about shopping there or hearing about people who shop there.

From what OP said, it’s unclear as to whether the MIL is being snobby and overly critical of the OP, or if the MIL is simply bored by the topics OP likes to discuss. But Admin’s advice still stands- I’d ignore Lisa’s attempts at creating trouble and wait for MIL to discuss her concerns with me. You could though, next time you’re talking with MIL, try to watch for cues that MIL is offended or bored during the conversation.

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Alex October 9, 2013 at 9:14 am

Goodwill is NOT a “federally mandated sharity”. It is a nonprofit, 501c. It is a store, that raises money worldwide. Their clothing stores are just that; stores. The money is then used for various things. Including lining the coffers of its very wealthy administration. Same with Salvation Army.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_Industries

OP, I think your future SIL is trying to cause a rift in the family, and it looks like she is succeeding. I would suggest having a discussion with your MIL, and ask her how she feels about your conversations. I would also certainly tell her the things that were said by Lisa. It is almost certain that she has done the same to your MIL, to put distance between you. Make sure you tell your husband, and keep the communication lines open in any area where you have overlap with Penny or Lisa (friends, school PTA etc. because these women will try to separate you from the herd)

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abf October 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

I agree with “she’s jealous of you” theory. Sounds like you have a good relationship with your Mother-in-Law. If so, then I’d have a heart to heart conversation with her. Ask her if the bargain shopping chats bother her and if so offer a sincere apology. Then offer her sincere thanks for the “Motherly” support during this time of loss of your Mother. And express how much you value the relationship with her. I do think Mother-in-Law needs to be made aware of Lisa’s remarks (only the bargain shopping ones, I’d suggest you not mention the other issue since they don’t involve MIL) . I’d bet she’ll be just as shocked as you were. I’d also bet that Lisa is banking on you retreating and staying quietly out of the way so she can be top dog. Work on building the relationship with MIL. I have a feeling you both may need each other after Lisa becomes an offical member of the family.

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JuliB October 9, 2013 at 9:17 am

I’ll skip over the thrift store comments and mention the only other thing that I disagree with:

“using her (MIL) to fill the motherless gap you have is somewhat selfish. ”

Really? I would think that MIL would be flattered to know that OP feels comfortable enough to look to her as a mother-figure. Stereotypically MILs and DILs don’t always get along. I think calling OP selfish is a bit over the line.

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Sandi October 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

I won’t rehash the comments others have said about Goodwill, so I’ll just add this: I don’t know what the circumstances are at the store Kat works in, but the ones where I live (Athens, Ga.) as well as every Goodwill I’ve ever been to in multiple states aren’t being cleaned out of all the good stuff by people bargain hunting.

Absolutely every Goodwill I’ve ever been to have been absolutely filled with clothing, household items, books, etc. This idea that someone well-off is coming in and cleaning out the store of all the valuable items is patently ridiculous. There is more than enough quality clothing in these stores to go around, and at least in my area, they don’t put out clothing that has been damaged, soiled, etc. They ONLY put out the quality clothing items, and the stores are still filled to capacity.

I shop at Goodwill, because my money supports their programs. Which is exactly what they want people to do.

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Lilac October 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

Just an FYI about Goodwill, an organization which I have, like many of you, supported through donations. There has been some controversy about it’s labor practices. Here is a news report dealing with the issue: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/07/30/does-goodwill-industries-exploit-disabled-workers/ The report gives Goodwill the opportunity to respond and they do appear to have some reasons to justify their position. It’s just something to think about before making a decision to donate items to Goodwill.
Also–I have to say I understand the passion Kat feels in trying to preserve SOMETHING for just the needy. I think her opinion may be misplaced in advocating this towards Goodwill as Goodwill is more about employment for the needy than goods for the needy— so the more shoppers the better. I can understand that it might be hard for someone who is struggling or has struggled to see people who have more than enough getting even more. It’s just good to remember that they might appear to be in a certain socioeconomic class and not really be there. Designer knock-offs, bargain shopping, and good grooming can disguise hardship.

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manybellsdown October 9, 2013 at 9:35 am

I shop at thrift stores often because I can find things there I can’t get anywhere else. It’s not a question of “I’m gonna take all the good stuff.”, it’s a question of “I need a yellow plaid vest for this costume.” I can go to 47 department stores, which won’t have something not currently in fashion, or I can check a couple thrift stores and get what I need.

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inNM October 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

@Lauren re: sharp shooter. “Sharp Shooter” and “I’m going to tell it as it is” are code for “I’m a rude person who is going to tell you how I think it should be, whether you want my advice or not.” I am not sure if shooting them down politely is the way to go, because sharp shooters tend to not acknowledge polite rebuffs. I have found that a clear,”I don’t want to hear it” followed by leaving the situation (Or asking them to leave, or persistent bean dipping, if you prefer them to stay.) is more effective.

@Kat, you should not judge people based on appearances, the Florida housing crisis was a great example of this. People lived in grand million dollar houses in South Florida, borrowing against credit, and then the economy tanked. A lot of people who lived in these houses, we came to find out, could barely afford their mortgage, and had no savings. So these mansions went empty as persons were made to move out. You should also look up the story of the Queen of Versailles.
My point: You cannot assume what people’s financial situation may be just based on their looks and their tangible goods on their person at any given time. (It works both ways, btw). Just because someone looks affluent doesn’t mean that they have a great deal of available cash to their disposable, and just because someone is wearing clothes with holes in them doesn’t mean they can’t afford better. We shop at a thrift shop (my husband more than me, because the store is dusty and I usually start sneezing frequently) for various things. Are we rich? No, but if you saw me dressed, you would assume that I am one of those people who sickens you.
I don’t know about Goodwill’s policies, but I think the thrift shop I go to sorts the clothing for items which should definitely be tossed (Holey t-shirts, underwear, visibly dirty clothing, for example) before they put things out for resale. Thus, to say that there are items that are not of value would sound judgmental in itself; not to mention the attitude of deciding who is worthy to spend their money at the charity and who should be excluded from the store doesn’t sound right either.

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Shoegal October 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

I have to believe that some people just must be very judgmental and are in the business of informing people about their various problems. I was in a very similar position when I had a couple of my neighbors over when my husband went out of town. As the evening wound down it was just me and one other friend, that I’ll call Trudy. As a little background, I live about an hour from my mother and sisters and will travel into town every Sunday to lunch and shop with them. I do this nearly every single Sunday. Well Trudy informed me that I shouldn’t drive into town on Sundays – I should stay home with my husband. She reiterated this point a couple of times – I can still hear it in my head – “you need to stay home with your husband.” I just looked at her and kept thinking, “You evil $&#@!! – what’s it to you?” What did it matter to her what I did with my Sundays?? She thought it was this huge mistake on my part that she needed to help me fix. It is absolutely none of her business how I spend my Sundays. I looked at her quite differently after that and kept our relationship to a minimum.

It is none of Lisa’s business where or how you shop, how you raise your children or what you talk to your MIL about. Somebody with no children can have an opinion about how it can be done – but they are certainly no authority. I have no children myself, and would never judge anyone in that respect – you can’t really know how or what you’d do unless you live it. Don’t pay attention to Lisa anymore. Who made her the authority on any of that stuff anyway?

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Anonymous October 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

“It is a federally mandated CHARITY …And goodwill and all the other CHARITIES like it are meant for one thing – to help the NEEDY, not the greedy! If you can’t see the damage in wealthy people coming in and buying all the merchandise meant to help the poor, then I really have nothing more to say to you.”

Kat, that is simply not true. In the U.S., there is no such thing as a “federally mandated charity.” I think you may be confused with non-profits that qualify as charities for tax purposes.

Furthermore, Goodwill itself states, “Goodwill stores feature gently used and new items that are bargains for smart shoppers… When you shop at Goodwill®, you are supporting job training and placement programs for people with disabilities and other disadvantages.”

This marketing messages says to me that anyone can shop at Goodwill and support the non-profit through their purchases.

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Hello! October 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

Back to the OP’s story, hhhm.seems to me there is always two sides to a story (which I had trouble following btw). I wonder if Lisa didn’t come to speak to the OP about an offense (which it sounds like when OP mentions how ‘BIG” her diamond ring was—it seems obvious that Lisa has been bothered by this for awhile and wanted to discuss it with her. She brings her sister Penny along for support, back up, or mediator, which is common,m but it is obvious that Penny also has an offense against the OP, and there isn’t really anything wrong with her discussing it with OP as well) But she overrides it by going a step further to ALSO indicate OP has stepped in it with their mother-in-law too –a common mistake people make trying to PROVE their point. (well, I’m not the only one who has a problem with you, MIL also has a problem cause you did such and such) OP MAY HAVE OFFENDED SOME FOLKS, but Lisa should have stopped at just the offense OP made to her, and not brought up any others. So, you offended someone OP, it happens, you apologize, and then it hurts. But you do have to get over it eventually, try harder, and mend the relationships.

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MichelleP October 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

OP, don’t let SIL take up any space in your head rent-free. She isn’t worth it. Admin is spot on.

@kat, I have a decent income and shop at Goodwill because I’ve been in the position of the poor, not long ago. I spent money when I had it instead of saving it, which put me in the position of the people you describe. Now that I’m not, I will take steps to ensure that I won’t be again. I worked at Goodwill several years ago and am not disabled in any way nor did I lack job experience. We appreciated every penny spent, from whomever it came from. Your apology post didn’t negate your sarcastic post, sorry. There are some things you just can’t “take back”, although your apology does seem sincere.

I see other situations in which I agree with your point of view however: specifically, food banks and recycling centers. My sister frequents a recycling center near her home where there was a section of free things that people could take: clothes, etc. She and her husband could afford those things, she just didn’t want to buy them. My BIL and I didn’t like her doing it; that is for people who can’t afford necessities, not those who won’t buy them. She did stop eventually.

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Teapot October 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

Wow. So you aren’t interacting enough to a non-relative’s relative? I’m surprised that they didn’t jump on you for not calling the non-relative’s friend enough either! Am I the only one hoping that brother-in-law escapes the clutches of this evil schrew before she becomes a real part of the family?

OP, Lisa is just a plain awful person. She’s never going to change. You, on the other had, are just fine and you don’t need to change yourself to fit her expectations of how you should behave.

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Ergala October 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

@ Kat I have to disagree 100% with you. We have a store here called H.O.P.E and they have amazing deals. They are 100% not for profit. Everything is donated and any money they make pays the the bills for the store front to be there. Everyone is volunteer who works there. I got my son a leather jacket for $5 there. Should I have walked by it because some other person who less money might want it? Um no. I support this store by purchasing goods from them. If only “poor” people should be able to shop at Goodwill then the same could be said for stores like Pier One…only wealthy people should shop there. What’s good for the goose right? There are a few charity stores I will not shop at and Salvation Army is one of them. Thankfully I have other options. Do you hold the same opinion for what we call dented can stores? Stores that buy stuff from grocers that can’t be sold in a regular store like banged up boxes, dented cans, stuff that fell out of the group packaging…you can fill a cart with that stuff for like $20.

As for the OP, sounds like Lisa wants to make herself known to MIL as the “good daughter in law”. Honestly I’d ignore her tirade and the next time she brings it up in your home shut her down, and fast. I’ve had to do that to my own mother when she was criticizing my housekeeping. In fact I bought a cute wood sign and posted at my front door and it says “My House Was Clean Last Week, Sorry You Missed It”. I have two kids and my husband is gone all week for work, you better believe our home isn’t spotless but it isn’t trashed either. When you are in MY home you do NOT have the right to pick me, my home or my family apart piece by piece. Totally disrespectful. Lisa sure isn’t making any friends that’s for sure.

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Karen October 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

My uncle is a disabled veteran with developmental delays (in the 1950’s in rural America, there was no service for these children, they were just considered “slow” and sent to Vietnam). He works for Goodwill and this small salary, together with his VA benefits, allow him to live a semi-independent life.

Part of Goodwill’s mission is to give employment to people like my uncle. Without this type of job, he would be dependent on family for all of his needs. So if a hipster wants to buy some vintage suspenders, by all means- I welcome them.

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Harley Granny October 9, 2013 at 11:16 am

Lisa could be my SIL. She married my husband’s brother back in 98 and has been attempting to ruin my relationship with my In-laws ever since.

Luckily I learned a long time ago that she’s the one who ends up looking like a female dog not me.

I’m sure insecurities feed into it. She’s quite a bit older than my BIL so feels like she’s more “sophisticated”. She likes what I call the “sneak attacks”. I just chuckle at her and move on with my business.

It’s so cold between us, they literally live 10 miles from us and we see them 2x a year.

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Mae October 9, 2013 at 11:17 am

Lisa sounds like an arsehole. Why elected her the captain of the manners police and why the heck did she feel the need to bring “back-up”? OP, please take admin and pp suggestions- stay far, far away from Lisa as much as possible and when contact is unavoidable, cool civility. Also, plain speaking is not rude as long as you are not screaming, using foul language, etc. so this is what I would do:

1st- I would speak to my MIL and simply state what Lisa said and see if it’s true. MIL may not feel this way at all and Lisa, being the drama queen she so obviously is, probably misinterpreted something MIL said. IF MIL feels this way, you know to not discuss these things with her again. As a pp stated, it would also “out” Lisa as a gossipy, busybody. The more people avoid talking with her about things, the less drama she can create. If she notices the cold wind blowing her way, maybe she will get the hint, but I doubt it.
2nd- I would not call Penny for any reason. (Evil me says not to help her with her son’s projects. Why isn’t HE doing them?)
3rd- Yes, the engagement ring thing was a small faux paus but, let it go. Most women would be happy that you liked their ring/thought it was big.

When she started on your parenting skills, that would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Borrowing a line from Julia Sugarbaker’s character on Designing Women, “Lisa, I’m terribly sorry. I’m going to have to ask you to move your car”. When says asks why, “Because you are leaving.” (end if Julia’s speech) To expand on that ” You do not get to come into my home and insult me and attempt to correct my manners”.

Don’t let Lisa and her rudeness live rent free in your head. Kick her and her comrades out.

Kat- I am not going to pile on you because the feelings I have about that have already been expressed but let me say 3 things:
1. My BIL worked for Goodwill and the “nice” or “decent” items may be walking at the door with employees. You would be shocked at how much merchandise never makes it to the floor.
2. My mother works in the resale store of Habitat for Humanity. Employee thief is so rampant, she is looking for another job. They have a truck that will go out and pick up large donation items. Some of the stuff that is called in for pick up never makes it to the store. The really nice stuff (such as jewelry, brass beds, a scooter, barely used appliances, just to name a *few*) either never comes in the door or goes from the truck to the manager’s vehicle. The MANAGER is stealing. The MANAGER!!!
3. What people wear does not necessarily reflect their financial situation. I am on a very strict budget but I dress nicely for the office so many people assume I have a lot of money when I don’t. I kind of understand your comment-sometimes it just doesn’t seem right that seemingly “wealthier” people get the “good stuff” but – looks can be deceiving and “wealthier” people do not get or stay that way by overspending.

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NostalgicGal October 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

@ Kat… I’ve been from impoverished and on county dole to upper class and had a maid, and back to making it meet. The name of the game isn’t to brag, it’s to be grateful. I can understand the OP and her family having ‘rummage sale’ in their blood, my mother and her sisters were like that, and I can rummage sale recycle with the best. The thrift store is there to be in business, and help those that need whatever it is they have; I don’t swoop in and empty the place, but if I have a need I go there too, just like any other customer. In our town we do have a thrift store, overseen by a church ministry, and it is also our county’s sheltered workshop. Most of the employees wouldn’t have a job at all unless the place was there. Shopping there supports the mission, supports those jobs, and is an active recycle.

My late dear MIL was not a ‘sale-er’ so I wouldn’t discuss that with her. She was into soap operas, I wasn’t; she did quilt and sew which I did, so that is where we started. I have a couple of the busybody witchinas on both sides, mine and DH’s, and. It does sound like Lisa got on one and wouldn’t get off. OP may have done something to set this off, but. OP, you may have to adopt the don’t say anything where this Lisa being can hear it unless you want it saved, twisted around and fired back… and develop a thick skin.

OP needs to reach out to Penny; and sort it out; if there is something there that is being third partied (and chopped up and reassembled by Lisa) to Lisa, OP and Penny need to work it out without Lisa in the way… then try reaching out to Lisa. I will give Lisa ONE crumb, albeit small, with wedding stress rearing a head, but. Nail it now.

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Pam October 9, 2013 at 11:32 am

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-hrabe/the-worst-corporation-in-_b_1876905.html

This is an article about how much the CEO of Goodwill earns and how much it’s employees earn….

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