17 April, 2012

How to Be Passive-Aggressive

This is the face of innocence and utter perfection. Keep that in mind as you read on.

Today, Gage and I went to Wal-Mart to buy an external hard drive. He was behaving like a little lamb, so I told him he could pick out a treat at the register. He chose M&Ms (or "yummy-ems"), and let me put them on the conveyor belt (which is usually the catalyst for a major tantrum). So. I swipe my debit card, put the receipt in my purse, and look over the bags to make sure I have everything, when I realize that the checker is holding the M&Ms.

"Can I grab those from you?" I ask her. She just keeps holding them.

"Only if he says please," she tells me.

Uh, what?

"He didn't say thank you when you told him he could pick out some candy. And he didn't say please, either. He has to say please."

Gage's countenance contorts into the wrinkly-chin, almost-but-not-quite-crying face that breaks my heart. "Prease?"

"Only if you eat them after your lunch," she says, still dangling them in front of his face. He is close to his limit. You just can't dangle candy in front of a two-year-old. "Promise me that you'll eat a healthy lunch first."

This is where my passive-aggression skills come into play. Read and learn, my mentally healthy friends.

"Gage, this lady is trying to teach you manners, because she thinks that's her job. But it's actually Mommy's job to teach you. That's why you get to eat all of the M&Ms right now, in the cart."

I reach my hand out for the M&Ms, and she still holds onto them. It's weird and if I wasn't so hormonally charged, I probably would've been super freaked out. Instead I was just super annoyed.

"I might be wrong, but isn't it most stores' policies to give their customers the merchandise that they pay for? Maybe I should go ask your supervisor what Wal-Mart's stance is on that."

The guy in line behind me stifles a snort of laughter. The checker shrugs and hands me the candy. I open it up and, blocking the line, give it to Gage.

"One at a time, buddy."

It feels like an eternity, standing there, while the line grows ever longer behind me. Yes, I know that my decision to have Gage eat the entire bag of M&Ms in the line was selfish, but this is an important characteristic of a passive-aggressive interaction; you have to be selfish to be effective.

The checker eventually starts ringing up the guy behind me, and gives me a high-browed, questioning look.

"Oh, Gage, I think this nice lady wants us to move. I hope she says 'please' so that we can!"

And then I give her the smile; the one where my eyes are kind of evil-looking. The smile I used to give my little sister before I tackled her and spit loogies on her forehead... that look.


"Sorry for the hold-up," I call behind us as we leave. "Have a great day."

When being passive-aggressive, there are a few key things to remember:

1. Only use a very mellow, kind tone of voice.
2. State the obvious in question format as often as possible.
3. Pretend to be oblivious to your own passive-aggression until that last moment, when you do the smile.
4. End the conversation with a huge smile and say something overly polite.

Moral of this story: okay, maybe I was acting a little immature. However. When it comes to my baby boy, no one, ever, can make him feel sad when he has done nothing wrong (or even when he has done something wrong, but I won't go into that or I might be considered overly protective - absurd!) or they will be silently and slowly blown to bits without even realizing it by my carefully honed passive aggression.


  1. I have no words for what this woman did. My jaw just hit the floor.

  2. Seriously in shock. The nerve of that checker! Don't worry! I've taken notes, because I am not as bold with my passive aggresiveness.

  3. Brooke! You are my passive-aggressive hero! I have my moments. I'm quite proud of them when they come up actually(even though I think I'm not supposed to be), but you my dear, are the queen. I love it. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I cannot even imagine what kind of crazy person would do that (referring to the checker, not you, haha). That person seriously needs a reality check or maybe even a slap in the face. I love your reaction. I think it must have been very effective for making that evil witch feel like an idiot. And it's good you remained calm. I can see myself spiraling into a hysterical rage and marching around complaining to every manager, supervisor, and CEO if someone did that to me or my child. And I wouldn't worry about making the line behind you wait. I'm sure they were so entertained by the scene that they didn't care. :) Good work.

  5. Good for you. That woman clearly overstepped employee/customer relations boundaries.

  6. Way to go Brooke! No wonder your mom is so proud of you! Love this! Just brilliant!

  7. Brookie, you never cease to amaze me! Dad

  8. Great job at being passive-agressive I think I would have a hard time not turning it into active-agressiveness lol I dind't know Walmart was offering manner lessons at their registers, they should focus on their costumer service first! Why do people think they are entitled to doing this kind of things? Good job momma bear!


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