### How My Perception of My Mother Was Altered by Her Interaction with a Service Worker

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I am a single mother facing financial challenges with my two teenage sons who always seem insatiably hungry. During my grocery trips, I often interact with “Mary,” who handles markdowns and graciously points out cost-effective deals, such as discounted frozen pizzas that help me manage my budget effectively.

Unfortunately, a conversation about Mary with my mother took an unexpected turn. Despite my mother’s hectic schedule caring for my grandmother, Mary assisted her in finding suitable reduced-price foods for my grandmother’s dietary needs. However, my mother began exploiting Mary’s assistance, requesting personalized deals and disregarding store policies by not honoring the arrangements, leading to Mary facing repercussions due to my mother’s actions.

Upon discovering the situation from Mary herself, I felt deeply embarrassed and regretful. Confronting my mother, I was shocked by her entitled behavior and lack of remorse. I seek advice on how to address this issue with my mother and whether there is a way to support Mary in this situation.

—No Good Deed

Dear No Good Deed,

To begin, extend a sincere apology to Mary for the distress caused by your mother’s behavior, clarifying that you were unaware of her actions and would never condone such misconduct. Subsequently, express your gratitude to the store manager for Mary’s exceptional assistance and emphasize the value she brings to your shopping experience.

Regarding your mother, consider if this entitled behavior is an isolated incident or a pattern. If it is uncharacteristic, the stress of caregiving may be a contributing factor. Clearly communicate your disappointment and embarrassment caused by her actions, highlighting Mary’s kindness and the inappropriateness of her actions. Emphasize that Mary’s assistance is voluntary and deserving of respect, and underscore the potential consequences of her actions on Mary’s job security. Reinforce the importance of treating service workers with dignity and appreciation.

Exercise caution in introducing individuals to your mother in similar contexts in the future to prevent such incidents from recurring.

—Jamilah

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