My blood boiled in anger as I peered into the backs of their two gray heads.
Granted they had no teeth, and were no less than 195-years-old, but still, forget respect for the elderly, what they did was wrong. They cut me on line at Michael’s, and you know what a nightmare those check-out lines can be.
I shouldn’t even be here! I internally berated myself, even before the interception by the centenarian Bonnie and Clyde. I begrudged the two fake palm fronds I held limp in my hand. I should put a real palm tree in the corner of that hallway, went the admonition, but I want that area to be seasonal. (To think of the mental state of one for whom a plant is stressful because it’s too permanent, as well who devotes time to decorating a corner as if it were on display at the White House, adornment for not two five year olds but Heads of State.)
When spring comes, I want cherry blossoms, and for Christmas, a tree. Come fall how nice would be hay bales, and in January white birch…O. M. G. SHOULD I JUST PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE NOW, OR LATER??? (These were my actual thoughts, standing ten deep at Michael’s behind people returning yarn, 12:30 p.m. on a 90 degree Wednesday.)
It knew it was all such an epic waste of time and energy, and yet, “Next,” droned the cashier, and step, step, up the line I crept.
That is, until, it was my turn, and I was cut off by the couple from the "American Gothic" painting returning, what else, 10 frickin’ bunches of yarn.
“Did you wait on line?” the cashier asked them catching my eye. Before I could respond, even part my lips for an utter, the female dumped the yarn onto the counter and scoffed, “yes, yes” while producing a thick stack of coupons. (It was through the protests of “yes” that I learned, no teeth.)
So, what should I do here, veered my thoughts to a moral direction…
Should I speak up? These people are wasting my time here! And what about the 7-year-old on line behind me waiting patiently for her ceramic paint-by-number figurehead of “Finding Dory?” Who is going to stand up for her???
But then, they are seniors, shouldn’t I show them respect? Shouldn’t I just let this one slide? There already was a lot going on there…the yarn…the coupons…the forced politeness of the defeated cashier … “you said that was $5.99!” “It is not on sale, Ma’am”…wouldn’t saying something cause more confusion and make everything worse?
Tick, tock, tick tock.
How often in these split-second scenarios are we forced to decide quickly, what’s wrong, what’s right?
As a parent, this is scary.
I often recall the times in my life when I had walked the line of danger, say, hypothetically, of course!, I broke into the Penn State pool at 1:00 a.m. and went off the high dive, and I realize, I wasn’t trying to be “bad,” I was being stupid.
In fact so many of these “regrets,” or times I look back on and say, wow, thank god I am okay, all have that common thread:
I wasn’t thinking.
It was so stupid.
I was being dumb.
And yet…tick tock, tick tock…we have to act quickly. Fingers crossed we choose wise.
A woman three behind me huffed loudly and abandoned the Michael’s mission. She had had it. She put down her rubber stamps and was OUT.
It was too late to stop the situation, but I could still say something to the cashier when it was my turn. I could at least acknowledge the cutting. Wouldn’t I feel better declaring, that wasn’t fair!!
And then the Michael’s gods smiled upon us, we plebeians on line/in one of the circles of Dante’s Inferno.
They opened up a new register, and this whipper-snapper rang me up speedily. I was finished while the old couple was still haggling over price. I would now have to walk past them. I could say something to them AND to the cashier!, I thought giddily. I could bust them all! Prove my point! Nay, I could say something so tactful yet so powerful, and condescending! Like, I AM the QUEEN of MICHAELS, you don’t mess with me!!!
—“Excuse me, just so you know, for future, the line starts over there…”--
My pulse quickened as I neared the controversial check-out…
This is it (clutching my palm leaves, too big for a bag, and my receipt)…
Open mouth, declare justice, and…
I said nothing.
After all, they probably weren’t bad people. They weren’t cutting the entire store to be mean. They probably just, didn’t notice where the line started. They weren’t thinking…
And I left the store, sliding my big black sunglasses down from my forehead over my eyes as I stepped through the double automatic doors into the blazing sun, thinking I mean it, I am never, EVER coming back this black hole of time sucks again.
That is, until, next time.
Stay well, Happy Time Wasters. Think, and stay well.