Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Me: It's really slow today.
Coworker: Not a lot of people in the store?
Me: Lots of people in the store today. All of them slow.
Slow Customer #17: How much do all the books cost?
Me: The prices are on the back.
SC17: I can't read them.
Me: Well, pick the ones you like, bring them up to the counter and I can tell you the prices on those particular books.
SC17: I remember when the store used to be somewhere else.
Me: Uhm. Ok.
Fair warning, guys, today is National Narrate What A Stranger Is Doing Day.
So far, I've been informed that I was waiting for a bus, that I was opening a door, that I was carrying a table, and that I work in the store where I'm sitting behind the counter.
I'm about to start saying things like "Hey, you're about to get to burned by some severe side eye." and "Your Kindergarten teacher is going to call you and let you know that the skills you were praised for when you were five are unimpressive when you're in your fifties."
Old Man On Phone: I am done in the comic book store.
Woman On Other Line: Ok.
M: So if you could come and pick me up.
M: STOP ANSWERING ME.
M: STOP ANSWERING ME. YOU ARE TALKING OVER ME AND I DON'T LIKE IT.
M: DID YOU HEAR ME?
W: So now you want me to answer you?
M: ENOUGH. I will be sitting on the stairs, where I can't see the street so when you are here, call my phone.
M: DID YOU HEAR ME?
The old man got to sit on the stairs for approximately a minute before I stepped outside and told him he couldn't block the stairs, but was welcome to sit on the stool outside our door.
M: The stairs are more comfortable.
Me: But you're keeping people from getting into both our store and the copy place.
M: They can walk around me.
Me: No, they can't. Please use the stool or wait outside.
This man reminds me precisely of all the men on my mother's side of the family. I really hope that is a generational attribute and not an attribute of age. Because I don't care how long I've known you, or how much you imagine you've done with your life, if you're in your sixties and start acting that kind of entitled around me, I'm going to kick you down the stairs myself.
When Chic-fil-a decided to be more Openly Bigoted a few years ago, one of my very close friends, a woman who had stayed at my house when she was fighting with her idiot boyfriend, and who had invited me to her wedding before she and her idiot fiance broke up, a woman who introduced me to her best friends: a lesbian couple who lived in the South End, wrote a long post about how she was devoting her free time to protest in favor of Chic-fil-a's freedom to be homophobic.
Because she was my friend, and someone I'd always viewed as an ally, I refrained from being sarcastic, and asked her how she could reconcile the way that company was treating at least four people she cared about (the fourth being the guy I dated through most of our friendship), and she sent this long disconnected Jesus tirade about how Christians were being persecuted for blah blah blah, false dichotomy, metaphorical bible quote taken literally, etc. So I defriended her, and sent her a very brief e-mail telling her that I was disappointed that she valued a fictional version of a two thousand year old dead guy more than her living friends. I didn't hear from her again until the Boston Marathon bombing, where I sent her a reply of "I am unaffected." and presumed, correctly, that I wouldn't hear from her again.
Today, in the midst of all the rainbow memes, and wedding pictures, I scanned through my friends' posts and was pleasantly surprised to not find a single argument. Like, REALLY surprised. So it was with much disappointment that I found a solitary post, made by the woman I almost married twenty years ago talking about how "love won when Jesus died on the cross" which is...ASTOUNDING. You'd think that if you were going to be Jesus-y, you'd go with "love won when Jesus rose again" or "love won when...." actually there's not a lot of love in the New Testament, once the whole "let's kill the protagonist" angle starts up.
She went on to talk about how difficult it was going to be to teach her children about checks and balances when "there aren't in any in the new America". And how this wasn't about marriage equality rights, this was about states' rights.
Huh, where have I heard that recently?
As I've been doing more and more often recently, I wrote a long, calm, point about why I disagreed with her status, and then, instead of posting it, I erased it and defriended her.
I know there is a sentiment among many of my friends that you shouldn't be silent, and that you should fight through your feelings and argue with people about their ignorance and/or bigotry, but that's not for me. I've long grown tired of trying to use logical thinking when talking to a bunch of metaphor-comprehensionally impaired bigots who belong to really judgmental book club, which is #notallChristians but #yesallliteralists. How can I hope to compete logically with someone who, if he existed, has been dead for so long that he wouldn't even know that calendaric time has started flowing in the opposite order.
Also, when I get frustrated with people laying down irrelevant platitudes that they didn't even come up with themselves, but overheard on their news show of choice, I tend to say very specifically hurtful things that I can't take back like "I feel really bad for your children, what with them being homeschooled by a prejudiced idiot." or "I don't think someone who majored in violin at a glorified musical academy is really qualified to be discussing constitutional law." or "As the person who helped finance the abortion you got when you cheated on me, I think you are woefully unqualified to be talking about morality and so-called-family values." but that's not going to solve anything.
I'm fairly meticulous with who I am Facebook friends with. I don't expect everyone I talk to agree with me on what kind of poets I respect, or whether the last episode of Lost proved that the show was super racist, but if I see that you've made a post about Barack Obama where you use any pejorative term that dehumanizes him (I'll disagree with you about "stupid", but I won't be mad about it. I understand "disappointing", and any synonym for "liar" is acceptable what with him being a politician and all) or if you want to defend the use of racist imagery or using the law to impose your religion on people, or tell me how woman aren't qualified to (insert anything here...actually anything), then I don't give a shit that we used to go to Middle School together, or that we both really like X-Men comics, I'm done communicating with you.
------I don't want anything from this post. It's not here as a dramatic "if you do X, you better defriend me now!!!111!1!1!" statement. I'm happy to do the work of defriending myself if I see repeated ignorant bullshit. It's mainly that I'm sad that someone I used to be really close to, someone who, granted, has always been from a really weird family, a family who, after they moved west somehow found Jesus in every corner of their house, and at the grocery store, and on their toast, has finally pushed me to the point where I just can't communicate with her anymore
--------for those of you who've been around since The Insafemode Journal days, Yes, this is the same woman who called me at work to let me know that she had a half-brother who turned up. She was letting me know because her mother had given him up for adoption and "My mother would never have agreed to meet him, if he hadn't mentioned that he wanted to share with her the gospel of Christ. So maybe if you accept Jesus, you can get in touch with your birth parents." She was unimpressed when I let her know that if I wanted to get in touch with my birth parents, I just had to fill out paperwork with the agency that oversaw the adoption, as I was a ward of the state of Connecticut, not Jesus. And when I informed her that, in fact, my family abandoned Christianity specifically because my former-altar-boy father was told by The Catholic Diocese that he wasn't fit to be a parent, she started to talk about my family's shortcomings. I hung up on her, not just because I thought she was being an insensitive, unChristian ass, but because I was also in the middle of a nine hour shift waiting tables.
--------we now return you to your regularly scheduled series of posts about how annoying people are in retail environments
A guy comes into the store with two kids. They wander around for a while, leave, come back, and have some very typical conversations, then the daughter, about four years old leaves by herself.
She comes back two minutes later and says "Mommy says it's going to be a few minutes longer before the weird guy finishes on her toes."
Heads bob up like lemurs after the first strike of thunder.
The dad giggles slightly. "I think you mean that it will be a few more minutes because mommy is getting her toes done. At the salon upstairs."
The daughter shaked her head. "Nuh uh. Mommy says she likes it when guys finish on her toes."
There is suppressed laughter from a couple of other customers.
The dad shakes his head but lets it go, and they look at books for a while longer.
Eventually, the mom comes downstairs.
"Honey." The husband says. "Caitlin was just saying how much you like getting your toes done."
"Really?" The woman asked. "Because that's not what I told her to tell you."
I am so glad I won't be responsible for this girl's therapy bills in the c̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ future.
Actual e-mail from...I hesitate to call him an ex...a previous mistake: "did you see that gay marriage past? are you at work? i could really go for sucking a nice cock right now."
My reply: "Gay marriage has been legal in this state for a decade. I have the day off. My not-very-nice, somewhat-sarcastic cock is offended at your forgetting about his temperament, and curious if you were suggesting that if I *were* at work, you were considering stopping by the store and making everyone, including myself Very Uncomfortable."
My gift was not referring to the "past" typo. As, in his past, he has had an impressive amount of assorted jobs. Copyeditor has Never been one of them.
After Some Unscrupulous Relative Links Her To An Article About A Comic Book Store In Texas, My Mother Calls Me At Work
Me: "No, Mom, I'm not getting married now."
Mom: "I just read this article about this comic book store couple in Texas...:"
Me: "That's great. Who do you imagine I'm going to get married to?"
Mom: "What about that nice guy we had lunch with a couple of years ago. I think he was moving to Arizona."
Me: "Well, SHE now lives in California."
Me: "Yes, she lives in California, and is a woman."
Mom: "That's even be--"
Me: "YOU FINISH THAT SENTENCE OLD WOMAN, AND I WILL END YOU."
Mom: "So you're still single, then?"
Today on Bigotry Fail, another oh-so-cheery loiterer comes in and huffs his way around the store. As I fiddle with my iPod, all you can hear is one of the women who works at the upstairs nail salon yakking away on her phone. It's definitely annoying. If it's not her, it's her male coworker. They never stop needing to loudly express themselves to someone smart enough to put enough distance between them that shouting into a phone seems necessary.
Cheery Loiterer rolls his eyes.
I nod my head.
CL: "I will never understand why those people" UHOH "come to our country" OH NO "and don't even bother to pick up the language."
Me: "Well, I can't say that I've ever spoken to the woman in question, but I believe she's Korean."
Me: "So, she's speaking Spanish right now."
Me: "How many languages do you speak?"
As I expected/hoped CL found this funny, and not antagonizing. I mean, I *intended it* to be antagonizing, but I figured he wouldn't pick up on that.
It should also be noted that this Nobel Laureate candidate had wandered around our store for about a minute and a half, had this interaction with me, and then asked where we kept our film. Because he thought we were the camera shop.
I hate to speak ill of the dead, but I hope that Ralph Roberts, the founder of Comcast, who died last week, has to make his afterlife arrangements through a series of poorly paid, moody telephone operators, and that every year he's bumped down into an even further pit of hell (he's the founder of Comcast, he is DEFINITELY going to hell) unless he calls the operators before his plan ends and renegotiates to stay precisely in the level of hell he already resides in.
If you're going to reply to my sincere "Good morning!" by saying "Yea, good morning, you prick," I'm going to feel utterly justified when, as you leave, I say "Have a great day, you waddling tub of shit." because I may or may not be a prick, but, when it comes right down to it, aren't we all just waddling tubs of shit?