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The Mother Of All Stubbornness

, , , , , , , | Right | September 14, 2023

My mother is an old Asian matriarch who is never EVER wrong. I mean, she’s wrong all the time, but because of the culture and her age, she sees the world through her limited mindset, and when reality doesn’t conform to that mindset, then it’s the world that’s wrong, not her.

Mother: “Take me to the store. I have a coupon to use.”

Me: “Mom, this coupon expired last month.”

Mother: “No it didn’t. It’s still good. They’ll take it.”

Me: “No, Mom, look. It’s written here on the—”

Mother: “Take me to the store! They’ll take it!”

Knowing better than to argue, I take her to the store, and she tries to use the coupon. The clerk explains that the coupon is expired.

Mother: “No, it’s not.”

Clerk: “I’m afraid it is, ma’am. If you check here—”

Mother: “No, it’s not. It’s still good. Use it.”

Clerk: “Ma’am, I’m afraid that—”

Me: “Hi, just saving you some time. Best to just call your manager now. I apologize for my mother.”

The clerk calls for the manager while my mother shouts at me.

Mother: “Why you apologize? I’m not doing anything wrong; they are! I have a coupon and they should take it!”

The manager comes up, and the whole song and dance starts again. They go through three rounds of the manager trying to convince her that the coupon is now invalid, but she refuses to accept it. I try to wrap this up and speak to the manager.

Me: “Apologies, sir. My mother isn’t going to back down, so feel free to go on with your day. We’ll be leaving now.”

Manager: *Thinking that maybe the confusion is a language barrier* “It’s perfectly all right, ma’am. I want to make sure all our customers are satisfied, so I am happy to try to explain it to your mother so that she can understand.”

Having been here many times before, I already know everything I need to say in this situation.

Me: “In twenty-five years, I have not once been able to convince my mother that she has made a mistake. This is the woman who is so stubborn and so self-deluded that she failed to see why parking in a fire lane would be an issue because ‘she would only be a few minutes’. She failed to see why her car should be towed. She failed to see why she would have to pay a fine to reclaim it. She failed to see why ‘simply explaining’ how she was wronged to the impound manager wasn’t actually verbal assault that she would eventually be arrested for. She failed to understand why the judge gave her yet another fine and community service, and she argued against it to the point where she was held in contempt of court and actually did a month of jail time. She is so stubborn and ‘infallible’ that she will argue herself into prison because she cannot see that the real world does not revolve around her.”

The poor store manager has let me continue my depressingly well-practiced speech for over a minute now, so I decide to wrap it up.

Me: “But hey, if you think you can convince her that the expiry date on her coupon is just a suggestion and not a rule that everyone — including her — has to follow, then please do try! You will have succeeded in doing something that literally no one, not even a court judge, has been able to achieve!”

The manager did not argue the point. My mother did not get her discount, but to this day, she still argues that she should have because “a coupon is a coupon”, and apparently, expiry dates don’t count if they’re not convenient.

She also still argues that the judge was wrong, so at least she’s consistent.

To anyone who wants to comment that my mother is an awful person and I should cut her out of my life, please understand that this is a cultural thing for us. I’m not defending it, but it is something that is what it is, and in some matriarchal cultures, the mother (or grandma) is infallible, and it falls on to the younger generations to act as the “intermediaries” between their perceived infallibility and the real world.

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