Oct 16, 2006

this is so inappropriate

Today I was standing in line at a bookstore while watching one cashier at the counter handle it all. He was helping out this lady who had a few coupons, and so the banter between the two of them had a lot to do with which item they would be applied to and so forth. Meanwhile, my time in line was about to get interesting.

"I always have to wait here."

(Hmm? Apparently someone was behind me and was talking. To me? Probably not... just venting. I don't like public venting... so I called her on it.)

"Excuse me? Are you talking to me?" I asked, even though I knew she wasn't.

"Oh?" said a sweet old lady, caught off guard that I spoke directly to her.

I repeated myself. "You just said something and I was wondering if you were talking to me."

"Oh, well... everytime I'm in here there is a line," she said.

"Oh," I said, turning back towards the counter, somewhat satisfied I'd called her out.
About five minutes later, another associate came to the counter who had been helping someone on the floor. He told her to go to his register, usurping myself and the sweet old lady in line. Meanwhile, the first associate was still sorting out coupons with the coupon lady (yes... it was actually taking that long).

(old lady sighs)

(I wait)

(old lady makes ticking noises of disgust)

(I wait)

A few more minutes later, the two associates at the counter who are still working on their transactions are joined by a female associate who stands behind the first one. She's obviously new and is watching him ring up the transaction, but is soon met by a greeting from the coupon customer. Apparently they know each other because the female associate used to work at a Babies R Us in town and served that customer there quite regulaly. They seem like they could be friends based on the level of joyful conversation they are having about...


(Huh? Where did that outburst come from? And how did "the sweet old lady and I" become an "us?" I'm waiting just fine while she's sighing and ticking behind me. "Don't make us an 'us,'" I think.)

The associate replied, "Actually, he's almost done, ma'am. He'll be right with you."

"I HAVE TO PICK UP MY GRANDDAUGHTER - I CAN'T KEEP WAITING!" said the old lady, growing in energy and volume with each word.

(About now I'm starting to realize she is actually yelling in my ear. Somehow this sweet old lady is becoming the Incredible Hulk out of her frustration. Don't make her angry... you wouldn't like her when she is angry.)

The associate thought a bit and then said, "Uh... okay, ma'am. I can take you both here."

(I knew it! The associate thinks we're together... that I'm an impatient patron. "I so AM NOT!" I think loudly to myself, because that's how I think in such moments... loudly. Something must be done... something must be done... this is so inappropriate.)

"You can go first, ma'am," I say.

"Hm?" she says, turning back to her orginal shade of pink. "No, no, no... you go ahead. I can wait."

"No, really... I don't mind," I insist.

"But you're next," she says.

"I really don't mind," I reply. "Please go ahead."


And she does. And then I see her fumble around in her purse and say nice grandmotherly kind of things. And suddenly the Hulk is gone and Bruce Banner is back... and he's chewing a Werther's.

So then I leave the store, got into the van, and drove towards my house. Only I get stuck in traffic because the LOUSY construction happening on WESTNEDGE ROAD is slOWinG doWN traffic in the MOST INCOVENIENT PLACE!!!! ARGH!


"Whoah... where did that come from?"
This is so inappropriate.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-7)


chris said...

i totally get this.

Katie said...

ugh, traffic is my kryptonite (if kryptonite actually made you become a fire breathing monster with no patience)

good story

bjk said...

Perfect.....seriously pointedly perfect.

Heather said...

Um, that was me behind you in line.

Thurman8er said...

Yeah, but the nice piano music at the end of the show always made it okay.

BarBarA said...

Great story and great point.

(I loved Bill Bixby! It was nice to see his face today)

Tony Myles said...

I thought so, Heather. :)

Thurman8er - I was just telling my wife that I need a theme song at the end of my day, too. We were watching a Welcome Back Kotter marathon (because there really wasn't any other choice that evening) and noted how at the end of every episode there was that theme of humorous finality. I need one of those at the end of my day.

"Well, honey - looks like I got outsmarted by God again!"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comparison to Bill Bixby/The Hulk. I needed a good laugh :) It also reminded me to watch myself when I am waiting in lines. You never know who is in front of or behind you!

Ellis Nadler said...

story of my life....
I think the rot set in when clerks were re-named "associates".

Milton Stanley said...

I read your whole post and honestly don't understand what you're getting at. Obviously the grandmother acted like a child, but are you admitting you acted worse by not talking to her, or are you saying "Thank God I'm not like that sinner"?

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Milton... my post was to process through the situation in real time, with me obviously feeling like the sweet old lady was way out of line.

Then I found myself expressing anger on the road in a similar way.

It was more of a backdoor way of explaining that it's easier to look at someone else's immaturity than it is to realize our own.

Or in the metaphor of Jesus, sawdust and planks.

Hope that helps.

Milton Stanley said...

Gotcha. Thanks.