Has anyone else ever had one of those days where you woke up and immediately felt the onset of intense dislike? For whatever reason, as soon as you open your eyes, you know it’s not a good day. There has been no forecast of impending doom, no unusual activities you are dreading occurring today, no ominous foreboding that something isn’t right, you just already aren’t feeling it. So you go back to sleep hoping that if you get a little more shut-eye that maybe your bad mood will disappear.
But it doesn’t work, in fact, it seems to have made things worse. Now you’ve wasted a great deal of your day doing nothing. Now you still have to get up and do what you need to do today.
So you get in your car to go somewhere and every station on the radio is playing a song you hate. The CDs in the player are all annoying today. That stoplight that is usually green when you get there, is red. The guy in the car next to you has his bass turned up so loud it is vibrating the entire area with a mind numbing boom-boom-boom and you just want to reach across the vehicles and smack the crap out of him and let him know, not everyone likes that kind of noise. How dare he impose his tastes on your eardrums?
At the store, there are ten people in line and only one register open and the person checking out right now is an old, old woman who has no idea how to work the card-swipe-thingie-machine. So the cashier has to help her, step by excruciatingly slow step.
And the woman behind you with the four screaming kids hanging off her cart bumping into you every other second is oblivious. The man behind her has b.o. so bad you are sure the paint will begin peeling off the wall any minute now. And then there is the guy behind that guy who is loudly complaining about the lack of cashiers and how slow the line is moving and how terrible the store is and how he has half a mind to just leave – but he doesn’t.
And then there is the old woman in front of you that turns around every so often that you exchange knowing glances with that this is not a good situation.
You think silently to yourself, I want to be mad. I want to yell at the cashier to hurry the hell up. I want this old lady to bring cash next time to make this all move faster. But you don’t get mad.
You don’t because you know that someday, that will be you up there in the front of the line. You will be the old lady who doesn’t know how to efficiently use the new technology to purchase your groceries. It will be you unable to hear the cashier because you are losing your hearing. It will be you bearing the hatred of the other, much younger people in line.
I had originally, fully intended, when I realized the situation at the check out, to be irate and angry and in general use it as a decent reason to be having a bad day. It was something I could complain about.
I thought differently when I glanced around the person in front of me and saw the smallish woman with the confused look on her face trying to master the check out. Her hair was gray and thinning. She wore bifocals. Her back had that old person hump to it at the top, so she had probably shrunk at least a few inches since her youth.
Her day probably wasn’t any better than mine. This was a discount grocery store after all. She was here in the midwest in winter which means she hadn’t retired to some warm sunny state in the south. She wasn’t a snow bird or she’d be in the south right about now. She didn’t drive a luxury car – there weren’t any, not in the parking lot of this store. I wondered for a few minutes who she was, what her life had been like and how she had ended up here at her age, in this tiny town, shopping at the local Save-a-lot.
It sounds terrible, but I left the store feeling much better than I had when I went in. As I sat back in the seat of my vehicle, I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror. My hair was still blonde, I was still the same 6′ I had been since I was 16. I had my health, my youth, and I had no need to shop at the discount grocery store. I was there because I am a cheapskate. I stop there on my way to the other grocery store because fabric softener is only $1 and milk is only $2 and it’s usually a quick stop along my way.
Now, I could be completely wrong. This woman could have been a millionaire who is a millionaire because she lives here instead of in some nicer, warmer climate and because she doesn’t wear nice clothes, drive a nice car or buy more expensive groceries. But that doesn’t make for a very good story and I wanted to feel all insightful today.