Despite the fact that I have the mouth of a longshoreman, I’m actually quite polite. Pathologically so.
I practically trip over myself in the rush to open doors for people. I will interrupt my day, make myself physically uncomfortable, even, so as not to inconvenience another person.
It annoys me, but it’s who I am.
Around Christmas, my debit card started acting wonky. It seemed to hate the card readers from certain banks. I did most of my Christmas shopping with cash, so it wasn’t usually a big deal. But then, one night, I went to the Dollar Store.
I just needed a few stocking stuffers. And if the kids are going to break that shit within the first 5 minutes, I’d rather get it for a dollar than $3.99. But then, I started finding stuff for the grown-ups. (Tell me a pregnancy test from the Dollar Store wouldn’t make you laugh your ass off on Christmas morning.) And pretty soon, I had a full basket with 40 things in it.
I got to the counter. Within seconds, there were 10 people behind me. The (possibly) (most likely) stoned teenager behind the cash register threw my things into a bag, swiped my debit card. And all that came up was a big error message. I rolled my eyes, said something to the effect of “Oh, not again!” Stoned Girl senses inconvenience coming her way. She hisses at me to find some money. I don’t know why I didn’t tell her to fuck off, but I didn’t. I went to the nearest cash machine, which hated my card, too. Then, finally, the indignation kicks in.
It is unfortunate that this girl will have to figure out how to take my items out of the cash register, re-stock them. It is unfortunate that the people in the line-up will have to wait. But I promise, I did not wake up this morning wondering how I could mess up Stoned Girl’s day. And I WILL NOT be hissed at.
I walk back in from the cash machine.
I look her in the eye, and will myself not to do that lopsided-mouth thing I do when I’m feeling apologetic. “I don’t need the stuff. Never mind.”
She screwed up her little meth-pocked face, opens her mouth to say…something. But I didn’t hear it. I walked away.
And when I caught my reflection, I was grinning. I was experiencing a weird giddiness. Because I’d just figured out the answer to one of the rhetorical questions I’d always asked.
“Why do some people have to be such assholes?”
Because it’s FUN, damn it.
The other day, it was my turn to host book club. I’d thought ahead, booked an area at a local tea house. I got there 15 minutes early. To find a couple settling into our couches.
I asked the counter girls what was up. The manager hadn’t told them about the reservation, but they were happy to help, and they politely explained the situation to the couple.
I felt horrible, awful, wanted to fall right through the floor.
And then the couple started whining.
“I don’t see a sign! This doesn’t seem right!”
And then they stared at me, pointedly, from their new table.
And instead of the self-loathing routine I’d usually go through, I meditated on the Dollar Store Incident.
I got all “ohm”-y.
And silently chanted,
“Embrace your inner asshole. Embrace your inner asshole.”
I sat back and enjoyed the best table in the place.
And it was fun.