Do you dish out unsolicited opinions in public?

Let’s lay it on the line. There are two types of people in the world:

Those who return their trolley to the car park trolley return at the shops, Every Single Time.

And those who don’t.


I admit that I fall into the second category.

Not because I’m lazy, or rude, or can’t be bothered. But because of logistics. I have small children and I’m usually at the grocery store for groceries (funny that!). So after unpacking a full trolley of food and strapping three youngsters into the car, I don’t always feel like it’s safe to trot 50m towards the closest trolley return.

Occasionally I manage the alternative – returning the trolley after I’ve unpacked the groceries and before I’ve put the kids in the car – but sometimes, depending on the kind of day I’ve had and the level of scrappiness my toddler is operating at, even that task seems impossible.

So I discard my trolley, thoughtfully, near a pole, where it won’t scratch or scrape a car or get in anyone’s way.

My mum does the same thing. Only on Wednesday, when she carefully placed her trolley behind a nearby pole and returned to her car, someone saw her – and decided to say something to her.

The woman stood with her hands on her hips and shook her head, while giving mum the evil eye. “You’re just lazy,” she spat in disgust, before marching on with her day.

My mum quickly darted to her car… then burst into tears.

She’s not lazy, for the record. But she is very, very tired, as she suffers from insomnia, and she’s nursing a chronic back condition. And at the moment, she’s also grieving.

My dad has stage IV cancer and is in palliative care. We visit him at the hospital every day, knowing that we have weeks at best left with him. After visiting him on this particular day, mum stopped at the shops to get a few groceries for dinner.

At which point, mystery lady felt the need to have a go at her.

If you’re the type of person who tends to dish out unsolicited opinions in public, can I make a suggestion?

Don’t. You just never know what the other person is going through.

It might not be the case that “they’re just lazy”. They could be that they’re “just barely hanging on”, and your comments are the catalyst to tip them over the edge.