Saturday, December 02, 2006

Another night in suburbia, and the radio calls...

The fine people at WAMU have asked me to do a new piece of commentary, likely to be broadcast the Friday before Christmas. Unfortunately, I am finding the words difficult to put together this weekend. Not completely sure what my problem is, but I'll sort it out.

I'm lacking the holiday spirit this year, and I tried to jump start it this afternoon by compiling an iTunes playlist of appropriate tuneage. A lot of old stuff, a little new stuff, a handful of kids' show tunes... Then, I took a drive up the Pike tonight to listen to it. I still didn't feel the feeling, no matter how plaintively Judy Garland pleaded for me to have myself a merry little Christmas. Not even Burl Ives could kickstart my holly jollies. Feh. It'll come eventually, I hope.

I sat in the parking lot at Target for a while, just listening to music, not eager to go in and spend money. But life without toilet paper and laundry detergent is simply not worth living. Trust me.

I dragged my carcass into the Target entrance and immediately felt that sensation of "Mall Head", as if I'd already been there too long and needed out. I stood, nose to the wall, reading the posted weekly circular in what has become my normal stance for reading text. A woman came up next to me, laughing. She said, "I've got the opposite problem, I have to stand back to read 'em." There we stood, doing this squinty review of the ad. I told her with a chuckle, "Last year my eye doctor told me that my vision would start changing around 40 and I'd be holding things at arm's length to read 'em. And then, I end up going partially blind this year, and BAM. It's the exact opposite." I was wearing my new driving glasses. I smiled again, "Hence the jumbo frames here."

My presbyopic compatriot smiled and said, "Actually, I think those glasses make you look quite lovely. Very striking."

I'll be damned.

I wished her luck and headed for the cleaning supplies area, feeling a little better about the world. Still, I wanted out. I hit the check-out as quickly as possible, where a young skinny guy clerked and joked, and tried his hardest to be a modern day Duckie, channeling Jon Cryer with modest success. As I unloaded my Tide and Scrubbing Bubbles, I realized my wallet was sitting in my locked car, fortunately just two spaces away from the door. "No problemoooo!" chirped Duckie Jr. "If you write a check, sometimes it doesn't ask me for ID." Of course, this time, it did.

I turned to the woman behind me and apologized. I quickly explained that I was rather night blind and didn't see that my small black wallet was left on the car seat. I'd be right back. She rolled her eyes, clucked her tongue and sighed. I apologized again and asked the clerk if he could clear my transaction for her. Again he said, "No problemoooo - I'll just suspend it."

I headed for my car, and as the automatic doors whooshed open, I heard the woman say to the clerk, "Her ass is so fat, it's gonna take her ten minutes to get to her damn car." "Oh, yeaaaaah. No kidding!" said the chirpy twerp in response. I clocked myself on my wrist. 1 minute, 15 seconds. I was back before they'd finished their tacky chatter at my expense.

"Was that fast enough for you?" I said to the woman, who was studiously ignoring me. "Excuse me?" She said it in that way people do when they've been caught at something and are embarrassed.

"Did I move my fat ass fast enough for you?" I spoke sweetly, like a southern woman asking if she'd like another mint julep. She fixed her jaw and avoided my eye. I looked at the clerk and said, "Here's my ID." He looked at me and jerked his chin. "Soooo sorry. You'll have to go to the end of the line-o." The line-o was one guy-o. I considered just leaving my goods there and going to the Giant store around the corner, but I was tired. I just replied "Fine-o. I will-o wait-o." Duckie cast a baleful stare my direction. The guy behind the cranky broad chuckled.

When I took my place behind him, he turned to me and said, "It's amazing, isn't it? People feel like they can be assholes and no one will call them on it." I nodded quietly and half-smiled. I've been feeling tired and worn down lately. I just didn't want to cry in Target of all places. He then addressed the woman in front of us, who was juggling her ringing cell phone and $60 worth of holiday party supplies: "Excuse me, but can you move your fat ass a little faster? I think it's gonna take you ten minutes to get out of my way, huh?" She looked shocked.

"What?"

The man spoke again. "You can dish it but can't take it?" Clearly she was rattled.

"Screw you," she hissed, grabbing her bags and throwing them into the cart. She fled to the door, but had to return to the counter, where she'd left her credit card hanging out of the scanner. The man half-bowed to her and said, "Your credit card, madame." There was almost visible steam coming out of her ears at this point. My volunteer supporter finished his transaction, turned to me and said, "You have a nice evening, ma'am." He smiled and left.

I looked at the clerk, who wasn't really looking at me. "Here's my check-o, ID-o, and I'd just like to go-o."

"Heh, uh heh heh, yeah," the clerk was nervous. I'm sure he wondered if I was going to complain about him agreeing with the customer about the velocity of my fat ass. He tried to joke as he awkwardly ran the check through the machine. "Heh, uh heh heh... check, check, check... check... republic... uh heh heh heh heh." My receipt appeared and he thrust it at me, but never met my eye.

I took the paper from him and offered a barely audible "Thank you." And I left.

Some people really do feel empowered to be mean and callous and rotten and some others are just cowed into playing along. And yet, for every jerk, there are, I hope and believe, at least two to counter them.

And blessings upon them and their parents for raising them well. Job well done, Mom and Dad.

13 comments:

Pirate Twin said...

Well! If you're in the mood to tackle it, I think you might have your holiday radio commentary right here. :-)

Before I go -- I had to comment about Burl Ives. As an aside, I'm sure you've all heard that he was pretty much a crotchety old s.o.b. in his later years. Anyway, the other day I heard "Holly Jolly Christmas." I couldn't help noticing that the way he sings, "say hello...to friends you know..." sounds VERY much like the way Seinfeld's "HELLOOOO!" bit sounded on the series. Remember? The episode where Jerry pretended that his girlfriend's bellybutton talked to him? Say hellll-ooooooo to friends you know.

suze said...

Although it's happened to me plenty of times, I'm still amazed when people feel free to comment on strangers like that. Good for your compatriot in line for dishing it back to the woman.

I hope the christmas spirit will find you eventually. I'm sending you lots of holiday cheer!!!

Loracs said...

In the speed department, I'll take someone moving their “fat ass” over a “shopping bag toting, cell phone talking” person any day. And do they think the fat clogs our ears and prevents us from hearing them?

Fatphobic remarks rarely make me cry anymore, but the kindness of strangers will have me tearing up in a second.

If I could twitch my nose and transport you to my house today, I think it might just give you some holiday spirit – I’ve been decorating for a month and I just have a little more to do. This is not as good, but here’s my Flickr page with photos from last years’ decorations. I hope this loads properly. If not, I’m gillygrrrl on Flickr and I think all my stuff is public. http://www.flickr.com/photos/61898632@N00/sets/1710724/

Back to decorating, I’ve got my Star Trek, Star Wars, Superhero’s section to do.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Merujo, I think you have the perfect topic right there. We're supposedly in the season of the year when we're supposed to be kinder and more thoughtful. For those among us who believe in the Christian portion of the holiday season, we're taught to "love one other as I [Christ/God] have loved you." No doubt there's something in every faith that has a high holy day this month that teaches kindness. Your commentary is always thought provoking and I have no doubt you'll generate a piece that will leave others thinking about what their words mean.

Scholiast said...

Amazing how rude some people can be! And not even teenagers.. Good thing there were others around too, to run to your defence!

There's also the possibility you tell them off with long, intricate words that they'll never grasp anyway...

JimInTucson said...

I hope the embarrassment brings an awakening on her part...but I'm not holding my breath.

I inadvertently discovered something a few years back - I was issued some BCGs ("Safety Glasses") with rose-colored lenses. My primary (photo-gray lensed) frames broke, and while they were in for repair, I was forced to resort to the BCGs. The rose lenses were fantastic for night driving. It may be because the photo-grays never did go "clear", but the difference was amazing - much "brighter". I'd recommend trying some if you get the chance. Anything to improve vision/visibility at night is also "a good thing"

The Lily said...

"I'm blind, not deaf."

What a cow she was. There was no call for that.

Here's hoping you find your Christmas Spirit!

Velvet said...

I'm happily surprised that the man (once behind, then in front of you) came to your defense. Those people are rare. Usually everyone stands around pretending they didn't hear anything. But then, I'm the one who flies across the bar to punch someone in the face for being nasty to my friend, so I'm always pissed when people retreat into their little world and don't do what's right. Or in this case, fun.

And I would have cracked that bitch's credit card in half before I handed it back to her. That would make for some interesting holiday shopping.

Anonymous said...

and immediately felt that sensation of "Mall Head", as if I'd already been there too long and needed out.

Good one, "mall head"...that's why I have to limit my mall trips to once or twice a year from now on. Too stressful!

Karma is a bitch. Glad that woman got what she was dishing out. People like that make the world unpleasant.

Also, Duckie from "Pretty in Pink" is awesome.

Dennis! said...

Fantastically told tale. Some people are so rude. I'm happy you had an outspoken supporter. The only thing missing was someone (anyone) pulling out a sarcastic "And a Merry Christmas to you!"

E :) said...

What a brilliant post. Great observations. Sorry you had to deal with those jerks, but at least you had someone there who defended you and could restore your faith in humanity at that point.

kristen said...

i cannot stand rude people like that. not just rude, but malicious. i'm so glad to see that someone else called her on it too. people like the man in line are heroes to me for demanding respect for other people.

i don't think that the experience will change whatever hate is in that woman's heart, but perhaps it will make her think before she speaks next time.

Anonymous said...

Girl - I think you spoke for many people in this world with that post.

I would have tripped her, myself.

PS: Let me know if you need some Christmas inspiration - you've got my e-mail addy, right?