Ugly shopper :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Ugly shopper

Laraine Bennett

We think we are virtuous, until we are challenged.

 My future daughter-in-law called me, worried.
“Did you tell the sales clerk at David’s Bridal that you hated the style and color of the bridesmaids’ dresses?”

“Of course not!” I was flabbergasted. Dumbfounded. I rapidly ran through the entire hour spent at David’s Bridal, trying to ascertain how such a misunderstanding could have occurred. The sales clerk was a little defensive from the start, I recalled. She arched her eyebrows when I asked whether she was sure that the dress my daughter was trying on was the one the bride had picked out. “Of course I’m sure,” she sniffed.

I had been confused because we had been looking at photos of different styles…I wasn’t sure a busy place like David’s Bridal would remember every detail. In hindsight, that was my first mistake.

Then, the clerk told me Lucy would need a size larger. I asked if Lucy could try it on. Second mistake.

Her eyes narrowed.

“I have worked in this store for a year. I know when someone needs a size larger.”

“I am sure you do,” I said, conciliatorily. “But I just don’t want to pay for a dress that we haven’t tried on, is all.”

As it turns out, all my questions were taken as disparaging comments, casting aspersion. The sales lady passed all this along to Laura, including eye rolls about the obnoxious mother-in-law.

I was outraged. I called the store, wrote to the manager, and vowed never to return. I pointed out how unprofessional this was, even if it was true. Which it wasn’t. Why sow divisiveness into an already stressful situation? Think of the bride!

In the end, the sales woman apologized tearfully to Laura and all was resolved.


Except my anger might not have been completely righteous. How much of my outrage was due to my own attachments? My attachment to being right, perfect, and (above all) nice!

Me? The unbearable mother-in-law? The ugly shopper? Don’t even go there, girlfriend.  

Too late I was reminded of the words from Scripture, “Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, for to this you were called” (1 Peter 3:9).

Topics: Forgiveness , Personal Growth

Laraine Bennett co-authored, with her husband Art, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse and The Temperament God Gave You, published by Sophia Institute Press. Their new book, The Emotions God Gave You, is due Spring 2011. Please visit their website at

View all articles by Laraine Bennett

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