This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about brawling at Hot Topic. I’d break it into three posts, but then sj might just curl up in the floor and die.
There were about six other people in the store, including a woman who was already checking out at the register. I got in line behind her. Sort of. There isn’t a logical place to stand in line. There’s a rack of music right in front of the counter which forces customers to choose a spot to the right or to the left of the person at the register. I took my spot and waited. And waited. And waited. As it turns out, three of the other people in the store belonged to Lady at the Counter. After Lady paid for her purchases, one of her girls darted from the back of the store, dropped her stuff on the counter, and took out her money. Hapless Sales Guy gave me an apologetic smile and let the kid buy her stuff.
Another couple came to the register at about the same time Lady at the Counter’s other girl ran up to pay for her merchandise, the husband giving a friendly nod. It was a complicated transaction that required several trips to the back of the store to find an identical item with a price tag. Squish was being good, but I was definitely getting frustrated. Finally the kid was through. Just in time for Lady’s son to come up and take his turn. I was patient.
The Lady out of the way, I stepped forward to put my stuff on the counter. And so did the other woman standing there. After such a long and frustrating wait, I think it’s safe to say that none of us were at our best. I am not proud of the events that followed.
Hapless Sales Guy gave woman his award-winning apologetic smile, pointed at me, and said “This lady was next.” The woman looked at me, noticing me for the first time and said “I’ve been standing here for ten minutes. I was next.” I left out some of her more colorful words. I have never been sworn at by a stranger.
Hapless Sales Guy reached for my stuff rather noncommittally, leaving it up to me to decide. The woman raised her voice. Her husband tugged at her sleeve and confirmed that I had indeed been waiting longer than she had. She brushed him off and raised her voice. At me. Dropping some f-bombs in front of not only my son, but also her own.
I am not a selfish person. Call it timid or polite. I don’t seek out confrontation. I strive to follow the teachings of Christ, to think of others before myself. I’d have let her go ahead of me if it was so important to her. But I. Will. Not. Be. Bullied. Period.
sense of self-preservation brain turned off, and I turned to her, knees shaking and said “I am truly sorry. I was here before you.” And I shoved my merchandise at Hapless Sales Guy. In outraged surprise, the woman let fly with a string of the most creative and varied profanity I have ever heard. I’m not even sure I know what all of the words meant, but I certainly got the gist. Sailor-mouthed woman was displeased with me. But I stood my ground, chin up, refusing to be browbeaten. And praying that my sphincter would hold.
She continued with her tirade, and as I listened, my blood pressure started to rise. My sympathetic nervous system became much less sympathetic and moved from “flight” to “fight.” How dare this woman vent her spleen on someone she had never seen before in her life over something so minor, and in front of two children to boot? How dare she treat me like this? I was coming closer and closer to dropping an “f-bomb” or two of my own, which, I cannot say strongly enough, is a limit to which I have never been pushed. Who the heck did she think she was?
At that moment, an angel put its arm gently around my shoulder and stuffed an invisible sock in my mouth. My good sense reengaged as the angel whispered in my ear a reminder that people who cuss out (I couldn’t find a suitable non-Southern term that was applicable) strangers in shopping malls where people are sometimes shot may not stop at words. If her husband was afraid of her, maybe I should keep my fat mouth shut.
My shoulder angel always gives me sage advice.
If I’d had any inkling of this chick’s volume of crazy, not only would I have let her go first, I’d have offered her a ride to the pharmacy to get her prescriptions refilled. I think I blocked the rest of the encounter out. There were some vague threats, I think. Maybe not-so-vague. My brain quit processing words at all, and she turned into every adult on a Peanuts cartoon, all honk, no predicate nominative. It was for the best.
I don’t know at what point I noticed that all she had to pay for was a pack of gum and a shirt. And that Hapless Sales Guy was rather speedy about his business. And that there’s only one central exit from the mall. And that I had passed this family in the parking lot on the way in. I took my bag from Hapless Sales Guy and left. I walked tall and proud. And fast.
And I’ve never been back.