I am usually the picture of patience.
I don't mind waiting in line at the bank. I like to watch the people in line with me. Waiting in line is awkward. People never know what to do with themselves. I watch them fidget and shift from foot to foot. I talk to them. If they are short with me, I make up stories about them in my head. My stories are so entertaining, that I hope to never know the real details of their lives. Sometimes, when they are leaving, I am tempted to reach out to them and say things like, "keep skating, you'll make it," or "I know what's buried in the backyard." I have tremendous self restraint and I so I look down at my hands and pretend to be really interested in my cuticles.
I like the camaraderie that I find with other people waiting in line with me. When the cashier has to change the roll of paper in the till, we sigh and share a moment because we know that we are so important that we cannot possibly be asked to wait the additional minute and a half that it will take to insert the new roll. We love to hate the cashier who fumbles with the paper. We know that we could do it better if it was left up to us. I love communal hatred. It feels so good.
Last night, I stopped by the store for toilet paper. I also picked up a few bottles of wine, an air freshener, sushi, dental floss (unwaxed, mint), replacement blades for my razor, cigarettes, and grapes. As I was shopping for impulse purchases, I yapped on the phone with a friend. She asked me to pick up a pack of size 4 diapers. Confidently, I strode down the diaper aisle. Diapers are like baby panties and I am practically a panty shopping professional. With the diapers in my cart, I went to wait in line to check out.
I leafed through a magazine while I waited and ate several grapes. To keep from eating all of them, I picked up a pack of gum from the rack and chewed a piece. Finally, the cashier began ringing my purchases. I swiped my card and punched in my code and waited. Not Authorized. I swiped again and slowly entered the code. Still, Not Authorized. I watched the people in line communally hate me. They sighed and craned their necks to look at the other lines. They cleared their throats and hated me.
Fingering through my other cards, I heard a woman's voice say, "Looks like we chose the wrong line." I felt them judging my purchases. What kind of woman buys diapers and razors and wine and cigarettes? I wanted to explain to them not to worry, I'm an astronaut. In the end, I did the only thing I could do. I pulled out my phone and answered a phone call. I spoke loudly as I made my plans for the weekend.
Then, I slowly wrote a check.
If random strangers are going to hate me, I want them to really hate me.