Sunday, July 18, 2010

Despicable Me... or Lesson Learned, take two...

Previously, on this-here blog, i was telling you about the lesson i learned on the Yankee Express train on Friday: don't antagonize a moron. It was a lesson so valuable that i completely forgot all about it this afternoon.

I was trying to buy some snacks at Target that i was planning to sneak into the movie theater (see that? turns out i am a no good punk, lookin' fer a ruckus), but the woman in front of me had to be purchasing every last can of cat food in the city. The line was taking forever.


Well, no. 'Twas a touch annoying, sure, but i'm not going to go crazy on a woman just because she has a thousand cats.

It was the woman in back of me who was the problem. But she wasn't a moron. She was a jerk.

Next to us, there was an empty lane with its light on but no one behind the register. We all saw it-- me, The Jerk, the forty two people behind us, The Crazy Cat Lady. We all wondered when the red-shirted Target helper would return. Would it be soon? Could we get outta here a minute and 15 seconds earlier than we thought we would?

Westchester county is like that. It just kind of seeps into you. I remember years ago, driving to get some errands done before i went to the movies on a Saturday afternoon. I'd finished doing whatever it was i had to do something like an hour before i thought i would, so i was taking my time driving to the theater. But about ten minutes later, i'm stuck behind some dude who was going seven miles an hour below the speed limit, and i'm leaning on my horn and i'm thinking, "c'mon, man! i haven't got all day!"

Then i thought, "actually... no, i pretty much do have all day. I'm about five minutes away from the theater, and i'm just gonna be sitting around the lobby looking at cardboard cutouts for an hour... What am i doing?!"

Since then, i've tried to tone things down a bit. Haven't always been successful, but i'm not nearly as bad as i used to be. The Jerk, on the other hand...? She was twisting her hands on her shopping cart as if she was gripping the steering wheel of a race car, and she had the cart strategically sitting parallel to me-- practically touching my thigh, as if she was planning on CarlEdwardsing me into the rack of Nutter Butters to the side of us.

Eventually, at around cat food can number 2,652, the Target Lady appeared. Again, we all saw it. But before she could get herself completely logged into her register, The Jerk raised her voice and said, "Are you open?! Great!" And then, quicker than you could say "Chick Hicks" she zoomed her way into the lane.


Now, i really don't know, but i've been thinking about this all day: What do you do in that situation? Do you ignore it, roll your eyes and let it be? Do you politely inform The Jerk that you had been waiting in line a full six days before her, and point to your newly-realized beard as proof? I went with option number three: Sarcasm.

"Oh, good," i said, "i didn't want to go ahead of you, that's fine."

"Did you want to go ahead of me?" she asked.

"No, no," i said, "the things that you're buying are much more important than the three things in my cart. You go ahead."

Then she said, "I waited an entire thirty seconds for you to say something, but I was paying a LOT closer attention, while you were drifting off into space, so i went."

...And now you know why i'm calling her The Jerk.

Because i don't think it's all that sophisticated to refer to a woman as an asshole.

First of all, i don't know when her thirty seconds began, but i thought it might be nice to wait for the Target Lady to stop walking before asking if her register was now open. Second, when i drift off into space, you'll know it, man. I majored in Drifting Off Into Space in college. Third, and this is my main point, even if the first two points were true, wouldn't it be the nice thing to do-- to tap me on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, you great looking bald man, you were here before me, would you like to go?"

Call me naive, but that's what i'd do. That's what i've done, as a matter of fact! I mean, y'know, not in those exact words, but, still... I mean, seriously! Let's have some dignity, could we please???

The reason i've been thinking about this all day... it's like this... i see this type of behavior around me CONSTANTLY! The guy who clearly sees me waiting to buy my newspaper with a dollar in my hand, nudging me aside to get his paper before me. The dude who cuts me off in traffic, the people who TALK and talk and talk during a movie-- i mean, there is rudeness surrounding me every day, and i couldn't help but think that it's just something that feeds off itself, growing like a virus, turning into a continuous circle that, at this point, might never be broken, or... something else that's also... scary... or something.

What am i saying, really...?

It's like the opposite of those commercials-- have you seen them? Where the woman sees a man helping a fallen man get up, so she's inspired to kick a basketball back to some kids before it bounces into the street. And a guy passing by in a truck sees this and is inspired to retrieve a bowl from a tall shelf for a short fry-cook or... something.

I dunno, i've never thought too much of those commercials, because at one point one of these inspired women saves a dude from walking into the street into heavy traffic, and i'd kinda like to hope that she would have done that no matter what. Y'know, i mean, even in my very worst of moods, if i had the opportunity to save a guy's life, i'm probably gonna take advantage of that, y'know? It's not like i'm going to say, "Well, yeah, he's gonna get creamed but i've not seen anyone do anything nice for people today, so..." BEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! KABAAAAAAAAM!

But... right, what i'm saying is that, i think people are just getting screwed a little bit every day and they're taking that to the streets, screwing other people. "He took my parking spot, so i'm not going to give my seat on the bus to that older woman. He cut me off, so i'm not going to take the time to talk to my neighbor. She grabbed the last toy off the shelf, so i'm not going out of my way to tell my loved ones how dear they are to me."

So, where does that end? And how do i not become one of those people?

After about 12 hours i've decided that sarcasm is not the answer. Which is really, truly annoying, because i'm so damn good at it.

The Jerk egged me on some more, while putting her groceries on the conveyor belt, after having a few seconds to think about it. "Hey!" she sneered, "If you only have three things, then why didn't you go to the 10 items or less lane???"

I snapped back, "Because it wasn't open-- do you really want to continue this conversation???"

And that felt awesome! I felt good about myself, because i can hardly ever snap back so quickly in times like those. I completely shut her up. And it made me feel great because, hey, she was a jerk. I felt superior. Like, for once in my life, i was the king of the playground.

And then i just felt smug. And hollow. And i felt really, really dumb.

And, then i went in to see 'Despicable Me', an animated story about one of the world's greatest villains who might just learn to become a better person if he would just give away a little bit of his heart. Love they neighbor. In 3D.

Not that easy when your Jerkass neighbor kicks you in the shin, but i'm going to give it a shot next time, i promise.

If nothing else, it'll probably freak her out.

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) Ahh, the movies.
2) Steve Carell.
3) Steve Martin.
4) Steve McQueen.
5) I saw a great quote from Carrie Fisher the other day: "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

song of the night...
"Waiting for my real life to begin" by Colin Hay

movie of the night...


  1. I feel the tension here keenly. There have been people on whom I have had to exercise every ounce of my self-control not to wreak vengeance most foul (and fully justified) upon. Turning the other cheek is a painful exercise, and most of the time, I don't like it much.

  2. This altercation reminded me of that Dane Cook bit about cutting someone in line...which made me laugh profusely.

    And....Despicable Me was friggin' incredible.