“Voices inside my head
Echoes of things that you said”
It will come as no surprise to those who know me that – occasionally – from time to time – there has been a rare moment or two when I have been…wrong. Usually when this happens – not that it happens often enough to make it the ‘usual’ category mind you- most times I am creative enough to defer the topic into some sort of pseudo-intellectual debate. A playful argument that makes you so annoyed or enamored with the banter-fest, (and it works either way), that you forget my slip up in the first place.
This ability, call it a blessing or a curse, has been honed into a demonstrable skill for years; and while it’s an effective tool to call upon – the much needed nine iron in any bag of tricks – I have yet to go to the dark place that will allow me to use this private force field on people I don’t know. I just don’t have the balls for it. Being an ass for the sake of being an ass is entertaining when you know the rules of the game. If you are the only one playing, it pumps you up a bit too high on the arrogant shit-o-meter for my taste.
On this rare occasion – when the assault on public consciousness is so afoul – you have to run head first into the wind and rain and give a Mea Culpa. Sometimes, you just have to grow a pair and say “yea – my bad”. You blow the dust off your platinum card from the ‘High Road Bank and Trust’ – and pick up the whole check.
Let’s face it. Nobody is perfect and I’m certainly no exception…
So I’m at the grocery store last week, looking for my Brie in the plastic tin and my $12 bottle of wine, pushing my little cart down the aisle. (Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the suburbs?) It’s before five, so the rank and file have not yet appeared and I can roam the range with relative ease. It also bears mention that I am, by no means, handy in the kitchen. I’m not looking for ingredients here. No recipes being dissected in my head on the fly. I’m not cross referencing the current pantry contents or pulling up the spice rack inventory in my photographic memory… No. I’m of the instant mac & cheese meets the pre-made chicken cordon blue variety. Which is to say that shopping really shouldn’t be a mentally taxing task for me. I go to the same store each week and the lunch meat counter and cereal aisle are magically in the same place each time I visit.
Since I’m on autopilot – or should be – I usually use this time to return phone calls. Not business calls. That would be like talking on the phone in the bathroom. I don’t want clients hearing ‘Excuse me young man, can you reach the Metamusil for me?’ No – just members of my team and friends that understand that it’s either now or three o’clock in the morning when I think to return the call.
Anyway, nothing bothers me more than people who are out in public talking on a cell phone – or even worse, a bluetooth headset. I neither care, nor do I need to hear, about Aunt Milly’s hemorrhoids or Johnny’s parole hearing while I’m looking for summer sausages. And why do they ALWAYS think that they need to shout into the phone? Is no one smart enough to realize that you shouting into the phone has no bearing on how well YOU hear the conversation? Yet knowing that, here I am traversing the aisles, chatting away like I’m in my living room. While I am consciously aware of my volume – really, I am – I do tend to get a little animated. And with animation comes volume. It’s like coffee and sex – we all know that one thing just naturally leads to the other….
On this particular day, I was enraged by the injustice of interpersonal politics – if you can imagine – and was venting to a friend. I had made it up to the counter and was unloading my cart. Unfortunately, I started to realize that my demeanor was starting to mimic the tone of my communiqué as I was presenting my credit card to the cashier – a slightly meek woman in her late sixties who was kind enough to acknowledge that I was on the phone and not give me much grief about it. I knew I was about to pass the point were your traveling personal space proceeds to perturb the public at large. I needed to hang up, but I was in full swing at this point. I was recanting a series of e-mails I had volleyed earlier in the day that had been tapered slightly as to be professional in tenor while still carrying the full force of my distain. As I reached the pinnacle, I said – much too loudly –
“..and you should simply keep your pie hole shut!”
It was at that point that I felt a hand on my forearm from behind me – pulling my attention to the rather irate black woman behind me who proceeded to give me a tongue lashing, the likes of which I won’t soon forget.
“Boy. You got a lot of nerve talking to her like that. A lotta nerve! You should be ASHAMED of yo-self…”
I was startled. I looked at the cashier, she was startled. The people in the aisle behind her were startled…. This lady was, quite clearly, considerably louder than I had been.
I think I was in shock for a moment.
I assessed the situation in my head. Yes I was on a cell phone in public. Yes I may have been a little louder than I should have been. But where does this woman get off telling me how I should talk to someone. How the hell does she know who I’m talking to and how they should be addressed?!? As I filled my sails with righteous indignation, it hit me:
She thought I was talking to the cashier!
She spun me to my left, the headpiece was in my right ear and the phone was in my pocket. She didn’t know I was on the phone…
Once I faced her she noticed the electronic appendage sticking out of my ear. Her face totally changed. It was 1/3 apology, 2/3 embarrassment with just a dash of fear.
“No! It’s OK,” I said. ” You thought I was talking to HER?” I pointed to the cashier. “Good for you bitching me out. You go girl!”
She smiled and apologized. The cashier gave me a not-so-sympathetic ‘serves you right’ smile – which I deserved – as I was handed my packed cart and eased towards the door.
I intentionally finished the phone call as I slowly walked out of the store. Hey – if you are going to step in it – do it with both feet.
‘Course that’s just how it looked through my eyes. Your view may differ…