In the story, it seems that almost everybody seems to tell Mitty what to do, beginning with his overbearing wife. She tells him indirectly to slow down by nagging him about driving too fast. She tells him to buy overshoes and puppy biscuits and to wear his gloves. Eventually he does all of these.
After dropping his wife off at her hairdresser, Mitty waits too long as a stop light changes. The traffic policeman tells him, "Pick it up, brother!" Later, interrupting another of Mitty's fantasies, the parking lot attendant tells him to back up, look out for another car, and finally to just leave his car where it sits. Walter complies. At the end of the story, Mitty stands obediently on the street corner where his wife has told him to stand and wait for her.
In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," the main cause of Mitty's daydreams is his domineering wife, who demeans and orders him constantly: "Remember to get those overshoes while I'm having my hair done...You're not a young man any longer," etc. In another instance, Mrs. Mitty makes him drive to a garage to have the snow chains removed. When Mitty tried before to do the task himself, a "young grinning garageman" had to come and unwind the tangled chains from Mitty's car's axles.
In addition to the gargeman, the "cop" barks at Mitty after he lets his wife out of the car: "Pick it up, brother!" he snaps. Then, as Mitty enters the parking lot, an attendant yells at him, "Back it up, Mac! Look out for that Buick!" Angered at Mitty's poor driving, the attendant tells Mitty, I'll put her away." The attendant valts into the car and "backs it up with insolent skill, and puts it where it belongs."
As Mitty tries to remind himself to buy dog biscuits, he repeats, "Puppy biscuit." A passing woman laughs, telling her friend, "He said 'Puppy biscuit....That man said 'Puppy biscuit' to himself." Finally Mrs. Mitty returns to scold her husband more: "Why do you have to hide in this old chair?" When Mitty attempts to assert himself by saying that he is "thinking," Mrs. Mitty looks at him and says, "I'm toing to take your temperature when I get you home," as though he is a feverish child. Poor Mitty retreats into another daydream.