Menopause Courage (in Kohl’s)



They say menopause makes us braver. More willing to confront others. To not put up with stuff. Hmmm. I have a story to tell.

Daughter Kath had announced Maze needed winter pajamas. Grandma mission!

I stepped into Kohl’s. My plan was to find a few pairs of PJs. No need for a cart.

Minutes later, with fire engine, doggy, and dinosaur pajamas in hand, I paused in the infant section. Didn’t brand new granddaughter Emerson need a Halloween costume and a Thanksgiving sleeper? Of course. They went into my arms.

Why not a quick run into the toy section? I found a talking Yoda for Maze, who is now deep into Star Wars. “I should have gotten a cart after all,” I said to myself.  “This stuff is getting heavy.”

On my way to the register, I picked up a book for each child. I love that Kohl’s offers picture books for five dollars and donates all profits to charity.


Arms brimming with merchandise, I headed toward the registers. I set the items down at the end of a counter, happily awaiting my turn. The line was short. Just one woman ahead of me. She stood at the other end of the counter, sliding her credit card through the machine.

She turned to me. “Could you get your things off the counter,” she said, face grim. “We’re conducting business here.”

I was at least five feet away. Shocked by her cold words, I didn’t answer, I just picked up my stuff. I eyed the young sales person. Her face indicated no emotion.

“Wow,” I said when the woman left, and my turn came. “Is it just me or was that woman really rude?”

“Oh you wouldn’t believe what people say to us,” the saleswoman replied.

“I’ve got half a mind to chase after her,” I said. Then I added, “But I won’t. Not worth it. Not the right thing to do.”

But then, I watched the woman walk back into the store. My mind spun.”Don’t do it, Barbara. You’ve never confronted a stranger in a negative way. You always behave calmly in these situations, despite inner turmoil.”

But that turmoil turned into tempest. A force took over!

I searched Kohl’s until I found the woman sorting through women’s tops. “Excuse me,” I said. “Could you tell me why I upset you?”

“I was conducting business,” she answered, her tone curt. “I was using my credit card.”

“But my items were heavy. I set them down at the very end of the counter.”

Short pause. Then: “That’s what carts are for.”

Speechless at her reply. Horrified that a fellow shopper could be so cruel, I walked away.

How did it feel to confront that scrooge of a woman?

Dramatic. It definitely had an element of excitement to it.

Did I feel empowered?

Kind of.

Did it help me understand her?

Yes. As much as I want to paint her as a creep, I realize she has skewed privacy issues. There’s no way my bad eyes could have read her credit card number from that distance or a phone camera capture the number on her card. I wish she’d left off her snarky cart line, but otherwise, I’ll chalk her up as someone who lives with a level of paranoia I’m glad I don’t have.

But I never, ever would have confronted her when I was younger.

Did menopause make me do it? Maybe.

What about you? Have you gotten braver or feistier as you’ve aged? Are you happy about it?

P.S. Now that I think about it, the woman seemed older than I am, so surely she’s been through the Change of Life. Maybe she was goodness and honey before! That, my Friends for the Ride, we will never know.

23 responses »

  1. Good for you! I have always been aggressive, so I am told, but the lack of estrogen has certainly made me more so. My family isn’t embarrassed around me, they just know I will say something or try to clear up the situation.

  2. In some ways, I am now the opposite. In my younger years, I was known as a feisty redhead. So much so that I took on a 6′ 5″ guy that looked like he was going to hurt my husband (I was in my 20’s then). Now, although I am known for speaking out if I have something to say, I usually take my mother’s advice and “consider the source” and just let it be.
    Although, I must admit, I am glad you did what you did. Sometimes, it just feels good and needs to be done.

  3. Congratulations! We’ve often talked about confrontation and bravery. The Kohls woman needed to hear your side of the story. I’m sorry she wasn’t kinder to you when you confronted her but who knows what kind of problems she’s had in her life? Maybe it was a bad day but maybe she is just not someone anyone wants to be around! I have to admit rudeness really gets me steamed. I wonder what I would have done? I hope I’d have confronted her too!

    • Well I’m not really sure I did the right thing confronting her because at the time, I showed her no kindness–not that I was rude to her. Another time I might try to extend a kindness of one sort or another.

  4. If the woman had privacy issues and felt uncomfortable with where you were standing, she could have politely asked you to pick up your things and step back. Using a curt tone to address you at the beginning was rude. After all, you did not intentionally try to invade her space. But sometimes people don’t know how they sound, or else being snarky and negative is their usual MO. Don’t think I would have confronted her, not when I was younger, not now. I have to conserve my energy and pick my battles.

  5. Barbara, I think it was great that you found her and asked her what had bothered her so much. Maybe she had never even realized how she comes across to other people. That the salesperson didn’t show any emotion about this at the time it happened would have also “irked” me. At that point my “happy spirit” would have possibly been so disrupted, that I am afraid that I might have “made a scene” so to speak! “Okay, I will simply buy my items at a more hospitable store, in a happier holiday environment” I may have blurted out! I would then have scooped the items off the counter, and put them in a heap on the next available table. I then, in my imaginary scenario, would reel towards the door triumphant at not dealing with these “bad” people.

    But, you know, Barbara, your honest approach, and then conversation with the clerk, adds insight and perspective – so needed by all as we seek to bring out the best in ourselves and others during this magical season.

    • Oh, and actually forgot to mention, that I was very feisty during perimenopause, (but it was an uncomfortable reactiveness (not really one of “empowerment” so to speak, but rather of irritation and other emotions that I would hope not to have to re-visit!). I have actually learned to take the scenario that I envisioned above and then transform it. In other words, I already begin to look at and count the ways that both the uncompromising woman with her privacy issues and the insensitive clerk at the store are “impaired.” In actuality, today, I would have waited through the line (with all of the negative emotions (but in check, so to speak), and then decided that I might want to go to our local small village downtown to shop instead.

      But, again, in all honesty, talking to the woman, as you did, Barbara, was special.

  6. Well done, Barbara – and you were still polite. I think we do get a bit feistier during mid-life and maybe more thoughtful about where others are coming from, instead of being wrapped up in ourselves so much. I find these aspects nicely liberating.

  7. I’d like to share a different viewpoint. I respect boundaries and personal space, and the counters at Kohl’s are not that long (definitely not “five feet” or “really far”). You clearly recognized that the woman had a need for personal space (the terms “privacy issues” and “skewed” suggest that you judged her negatively for it), and the fact that you TRACKED HER DOWN IN THE STORE TO CONFRONT HER suggests your disrespect for her need. To me, that behavior is much more rude and intrusive than her request for you to wait until she was finished before approaching the cashier.

    • Well I would argue that I wasn’t anywhere near the cashier. But I get your drift, although talking to her led to me understanding her better. Not sure it helped her in any way though. That I will never know!

  8. Barbara, the beautiful thing here is that you cared about connecting with others. The disruption with this woman was upsetting to your kind spirit (and desire to connect with others). Yes, you realized later this woman’s “privacy issues,” thanks maybe in part to the wonderful sharing with others on this blog. I can only hope that somehow she, and others like her with these needs, might see this, and perhaps begin to understand how someone else might be affected by their perspective.

    • Phyllis, Thanks! A few months later, I’m feeling fine that I went to talk with her. Granted, I did it with a feisty spirit but later, on reflection, feel I treated her gently and perhaps understand her a bit better. No clue what her take on me might be though!

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