Friday, August 7, 2015

An Apology to the Woman Who Cut in Front of Me at Meijer

This morning while in the checkout line at Meijer I experienced a lack of basic human courtesy that shocked me.  There was a crowd there this morning and only a few checkout lines were open.  I was waiting in a long line at one lane, and about ten lanes down there was an older woman waiting in another long line.  I was struggling to control my girls at this point  — we had been at the store longer than any of us were comfortable with, even though I had provided snacks and diversions in the pet department and promises of a chance to stretch their legs very soon.  Still, at this point my five year old was under two throw pillows in the cart and my two year old was trying to throw herself out of my arms onto the ground screaming “Down!  Out!  Down!!”  I was already considering just abandoning the cart and making a run for it, when a sign of hope appeared.

Hi, my name is Riley.  I like sitting on the backs of chairs,
couches, and grocery carts.  I love the feeling of falling!
A store employee came out from a lane two lanes from mine, and, turning directly toward me, asked me if I wanted to step over to his lane because he was going to open up.  I said thank you, and yes I would.  Actually, I said “Oh my God thank you so much, YES!”  Behind the store clerk I saw the woman watching us.  She frowned at me, and as I struggled to pull my cart out of the lane and turn it toward the newly opened lane, she whipped her cart around and strode quickly past the eight closed lanes toward us.  She looked right at me and her frown deepened as she pushed her fully loaded cart into the free lane and started unloading.

Well, I wish I could say I was gracious.  But in reality I barely stopped myself from throwing a full on adult tantrum.  I barely stopped myself from yelling “Mother Fucker!” and storming with screaming kids right past her and out of the store.  I didn’t behave much better than that, but I didn’t make a public scene.  Well, I didn’t.  Riley probably qualifies as a public scene wherever we go.

In any case, I didn’t think about her, or her life.  I didn’t consider what circumstances would lead her to ignore the struggle I was having and put herself first.  I didn’t think about whether she had an ailing spouse or child at home and needed to get back, or whether she had an appointment to keep or person to meet.  I didn’t think about her at all except with the term “bitch” attached.  

And so, Woman Who Cut in Front of Me at Meijer, I want to apologize.

I want to apologize for the open mouthed bitch face I gave you.  I know you were frowning at me before, but I straight up gaped at you.  People talk about Resting Bitch Face (RBF) as a joke, but I gave some straight up Active Bitch Face.  

I apologize for loudly exclaiming “You have GOT to be kidding me!”  I don’t usually comment in awkward social situations like that.  I was raised Episcopalian, and even though I have converted to Catholicism, a religion steeped in pointed commentary, it is in my nature to suffer such a lack of courtesy in silence.  I am more of a silent believer in Karma, more apt to glare, breathe deeply while counting to ten, and pray that your evil ways do not catch up with you before you mend them.  I embrace my British ancestry while secretly thinking of the things my Apache ancestors would have done.  But you extend my stay at a grocery store by 20 minutes while I was already hanging on to my sanity and my toddler by the tips of my fingers.  That was my breaking point.  Who knew?!

I apologize for aggressively trying to initiate eye contact with you the entire time we stood in the check out line together.  I couldn’t understand why you were suddenly so hesitant to look at me.  You seemed to be fine glaring at my daughters every time they moved, breathed, or made a sound.  But you would not meet my eyes anymore.

Hi, my name is Lucy.  I know there are two throw
pillows, but I will fight you for both of them.
I apologize for all of the times my toddler touched or played with an item of yours on the conveyor belt as we waited for you to finish directing the clerk which items to place into which bags.  To be fair, your bananas would never have been molested had you not stolen our place in line.  And, when you think about it, its really miracle she didn’t bite right into them.  Furthermore, if I am being totally honest, I could have tried harder to prevent her from touching your things.  But I was really tired of holding her while she tried to kick me, and her interest in your groceries was keeping her from riding on the edge of the cart like a horse.  I was selfish, and I am sorry.  

Further along those lines, I apologize for the fact that I had absolutely no control over my toddler whatsoever.  Grocery carts cannot contain her.  She laughs at restraining belts.  She leaps from moving carts.  She pitches herself forward or backward out of my arms in total disregard for anyone’s mental or physical wellbeing, including her own.  She is 22 months.  She is a force of nature.  She is a compilation of curiosity, desires, and emotions in a harness of blood and bone and completely devoid of any rationale or temperance.  She is glorious and she might actually kill me one day and I love her.

Finally, I am sorry that I bitched about you all day to anyone who would listen, and that I am still thinking about you now.  You did something unkind.  You had your reasons.  I hope they were good, but it is really not my position to judge them.  I did not answer you with kindness, I answered you with anger and sarcasm.  That was not a good model for my children, and it was not healthy for my heart.

I forgive you for your simple transgression.  Such a gesture is meaningless to you, you might not feel you did anything warranting forgiveness.  The gesture is for me, to purge the black flower of rage that blossomed in me when you steered your cart into lane 13, an emotion disproportionate to your actions.  I forgive myself for my day of wallowing in that rage from time to time without stopping to consider your humanity.

I only hope, were we ever to meet again face to face in the checkout lanes of Meijer, that I would be strong enough to act differently.