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Drawing the Line
In general I just try to give line slugs the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this is the first time he's ever seen a McDonald's menu. Perhaps those 15 minutes she had to wait simply weren't long enough to learn that grande is bigger than tall.

At a clothing store recently, however, I finally lost it. I was third in a line of about eight when the young couple in front was returning a belt. From what I could hear, it didn't fit and they couldn't find a replacement, so they wanted to exchange it for a shirt. Turns out the belt cost more than the shirt, so the cashier explained that because they originally paid with an out-of-state check (Why was I not surprised?). She could put the difference on a gift card or have a company check mailed to their home.

This confounded the couple, who looked as though they were taking the AP calculus exam. Eventually the young woman awoke from her brain-overloaded trance and declared that she wanted neither but wanted to find something to offset the balance. With that she left her boyfriend to look for a $5 whatever.

While the rest of us stood in line and waited, like idiots.

Me, I'd have been mortified at the thought of people waiting and grabbed whatever was at the counter. "Uh, here, I'll get five of these yellowish-greenish glitter body lotions on clearance because of some recall."

But this young woman strolled through the store without a care in the world for anyone but herself. She casually unfolded folded tank tops, lazily nudged hangers and occasionally looked back to give a cutesy index finger wave to her boyfriend. I was tempted to give a finger wave of my own that wouldn't have been the least bit cutesy.

I looked around at the people in line with me, searching for a face that registered as much shock as mine. Nothing makes a situation like this go quicker than bad-mouthing.

"Can you believe this?" I muttered to the woman in front of me.

"Believe what?" she said, confused.

Not one other person in line seemed to notice. I get this a lot at traffic lights. Even though the driver in front doesn't notice a light turning green, everyone behind him remains quiet. Maybe it's fear of ticking-off a commuter (glove compartment = armory), but let's all be brave. New motto: Lock the doors, tap the horn.

I wish I had a horn in my purse that day, because I'd have leaned on it. Instead I yelled up to the cashier, "This is incredibly rude!"

Cashier: "I'm sorry, but I'm ..."

Me, motioning toward cutesy finger-waver: "Not you - HER!"

My daughter, ducking behind the coat rack: "Mom, please don't make a scene."

Me: "Am I taking crazy pills?"

The boyfriend, hearing my tone and the words "taking pills," walked over and got his girlfriend, who looked completely clueless, but was glad she found flip-flops -- two for $5.

I went to Target right after and bought a bicycle horn for my purse.

And I'm not afraid to use it.

[September 27, 2006]

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