The following is a re-blog from the very talented Jackie Haugh, a fellow writer and author. Jackie lives and works in Palo Alto, California and in addition to selling real estate, writes a popular monthly column for her local newspaper, The Town Crier.  Her book, My Life in a Tutu, is one of my favorites.

My Life in a TutuI can’t wait to see her newest work in progress. You can visit Jackie and read all of her blogs and buy her book here. Thank you Jackie for a wonderful “Where’s The Justice”… and a week off. 🙂

When it comes to technology, I’m the classic village idiot. About the only thing I know how to do is turn a gadget on, and that doesn’t always work. So, when I was in the market for a new laptop, I decided to take my kid’s advice and purchase one they termed “user friendly.” Not only did this company offer classes for the challenged consumer, but my children would be relieved of my incessant questions.

Sitting in the crowded Apple Store in the Valley Fair Mall, I nervously pulled out my latest toy from its fashionable neon pink carrying case and anxiously waited for my first one-to-one training session.

Within minutes, a twenty-something youngster sat next to me and introduced himself as my tech consultant. But as we shook hands, his good-looking face began to shrivel up like a ripe plum in the hot August sun. Apparently, the child screaming next to us was damaging his concentration, as well as his ear drums.

“I’ll never understand why people insist on bringing their kids in here,” he hissed with disgust.

Hmm, obviously not the kid-friendly type, I thought. But as long as he can get me rolling on this sucker, I’ll forgive his flawed character trait.

Refocusing on the issue at hand, he asked in a dead panned tone, “What do you want to know?”

apple computer, duh drive“Everything,” I answered, smiling coquettishly in a sing-song voice.

His dark brown eyes narrowing into slits, he seemed to dissect every feature on my sixty-year-old face (all with noticeable revulsion), as his body language screamed, Oh God, not another one of these idiots!

“Ok, maybe not everything,” I interjected quickly, fearful he’d leave before we even got started. “Just teach me the basics. What am I supposed to do with my fingers on the mouse pad?”

“That’s how you want to start?”

“Yes, teach me that,” excitement building as I trusted we were finally getting somewhere.

Again, silence.

Curling into a pose resembling Rodin’s bronze statue “The Great Thinker,” head bowed and hand resting under his chin, he sat mute for what felt like an hour. Finally, he was ready to speak.

“Can I make a comment so this will be more productive?”

“Of course!” I said, happy to be accommodating.

apple, where's the justice“Don’t tell me to ‘teach you.’ I loathe that word. You teach dogs, not people.”

Aghast that a simple request created such a volatile response, I searched nervously for a different approach.

“Ah, OK. Would you show me?”

“Please?” he added, for extra condescending measure.

As a child, I was taught to be polite, no matter what the circumstance. Fearing I offended this man/child, I internally shut down and went on a vacation for the next 45 minutes. All his vast knowledge fell on ears clogged with wet cotton.

But later, as I walked to my car, the humiliation I’d felt transformed into an emotion I often prefer to smother – anger.

How can teaching be interpreted as a bad thing? I wanted to scream. The fact of the matter is you are a teacher, mister! And it’s because of inept women like me you have a job in the first place.

Then, taking a moment to calm down, I realized somewhere there was a lesson in all this for me.

While I’ll never be able to control the human side of anyone as it gets the best of them, rather than letting it destroy me, I’ll seek to forgive. After all, they’re the challenged individual, not me. All I can ever do is lead with my heart and leave my ego at home.



  1. I could feel the tension. Reading the author’s recant of the event brought on my own bad retail experiences. Usually the worst ones are at the grocery store. The author was great – she stuck it out, which was probably more than I would done. “Where is the manager”? I would have asked. “I need to reschedule for a different day”! Thanks but no thanks, would have been my attitude. Well written piece.

  2. I do have to admit: teaching is a very responsible and serious job and I do admire most teachers (that love their job) with all my heart for all their patience!!
    But people who only “took a job” because that’s giving ’em a regular paycheck, they’d better become gardeners… at least they’d do something useful.
    A lack of politeness in a teacher is such a no go, BUAH … I don’t know HOW I find that… I think I’m speechless… and that doesn’t happen very often…

  3. What a terrible employee! I’ve never encountered that particular brand of rudeness myself, and I’m not sure what I’d do (though the idea of Curley’s eye poke is appealing). My main complaint is when sales clerks are too busy talking to one another to acknowledge me–even when I’m standing at the register with money in hand! I’ll admit to occasional sarcasm: “I’d like to buy this if you’re not too busy to sell it to me.” That usually elicits a blank stare. Then I remind myself to be grateful I don’t have to work retail and deal with smart-mouth customers.

    • I’ve encountereds that too Sandy. I’m always grateful that I don’t own the place! Because the employees really don’t give a damn about selling the stuff…. they just want to get paid. They seem to have forgotten the connection.

  4. Wow, can you imagine how much that poor guy must hate his job? That’s about all you can do in those situations – turn the condescension around and give it right back to them, as in, “I’m so sorry, you must really hate your job – couldn’t cut it in Silicon Valley, huh?”

    Thanks, Jacquie and Jackie for sharing this and reminding us all how we’d like NOT to be treated 🙂

    • Our dear Jackie was a whole lot kinder than I would have been. Ah hem…as you are likely to already know. I would have kindly…yes kindly… said to this brat… “Excuse me….you seem to have forgotten what our relationship is. YOU are the overhead…I am the profit.” But this kid? would have argued that he was the …PROPHET!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. My breaking point is the eye-roller. In the past I just seethed but the one huge advantage of the scurrying years is that I have acquired consumer courage. If any ‘expert’ rolls eyes now I just say calmly that I’m happy to wait to speak to someone else but that my question is valid and I do want an answer. The first time I wasn’t that calm, tbh, but it does work. Only once has a patronising pre-pubescent actually gone off and fetched someone else, usually they dig basic manners out of hiding and become a bit more helpful. I’ve forgotten more than they will possibly ever learn. That in one small area of expertise they are superior does not make them generally superior and the faster they learn that, the nicer people they will be 🙂

    • Excellent point of view! Oh yes the eye roller. More than once, my dark side has gone to fantasizing about giving the dude the Three Stooges’ Curley eye poke!

      • I remember being raised to respect my elders, which I still live by today. It trickles down to those below my elder rung of the ladder too. But, as I continue to live by my generations’ social standards, I find I’m looking ‘down’ from a higher rung of the ladder! Maybe it will be harder to see the ‘eye rollers?’ ….. nah!

  6. Yes! Well said! I can just see him rolling his eyes too. (been there, done that). Well, thankfully, not all “tech consultants” are created equally. Would it be considered bad manners if we asked for another person to help us? On second thought, I don’t think he’d notice the breach of etiquette.

    • You know, the bad me dreams about being a fly on the wall when these kids reach middle age and are subjected to the same treatment when an impatient, self-involved youngster is trying to show them how to work their new flying saucer

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