|Thing 53902 not worth flipping out about:
Reusable shopping bags. Or carrying stuff.
Sometimes I find it really nerve racking to just step up and be a person. Like today:
It’s September 11, 2012. It’s a trigger day for a lot of people. Just walking into Target feels like I’m walking into a room where I know damn well that people were arguing heatedly right up until I showed up even though now they’re acting like nothing happened.
There’s a certain tension.
Target is not my happy place under the best of circumstancesbut today I’m especially not feeling it. But the last thing a crowd of edgy people needs is someone acting like a dick even unintentionally so I monitor myself closely. I smile warmly. I say “thank you” and “excuse me” more than I need to. Courtesy is my armor.
As I’m shuffling forward in the check out line I hear, “What do you mean I have to pay for a bag? You work and you work and you people just nickel and dime us to death.”
Someone has intentionally decided to be a dick. Great.
1. Bring your own bags and get a 5 cent discount per bag.
2. Purchase a paper shopping bag for 10 cents.
3. Just carry your stuff.
The bag ban has been in effect since July. It took a bit of getting used to at first. You kick yourself way more when you forget your reusable bags. But all in all it’s not a big deal.
Except that it *is* apparently a big deal for this guy or at least it is today.
So on September 11 he’s yelling at the Target cashier who is probably not also a city council member responsible for the bag ban and is wearing a hijab.
Oh God. This could go badly. Why did I arm myself with courtesy instead of jerk whispering skills?
Every year has rough days and every life has at least a few rough years. You lose your job. Or someone dies. Or national tragedies happen. Or any array of those and other hard to bear events that are just part of life. Sometimes life thoughtfully spaces itself out so as to allow for recovery time. Sometimes it hits you like you’re a speed bag. And when you’re being repeatedly punched somehow you feel the little annoyances even more.
So when I see someone throwing an adult tantrum about something minor like a bag ban I remind myself that, sure, they could just be a jerk but they could also be in the middle of a Speed Bag Year. There was once an incident involving me and a ski rental guy the week after a break up and a car accident… Details aren’t important. Remembering that kindness is usually more helpful than kicking someone who’s down is.
A guy with a surly Speed Bag Year look is yelling at a Target cashier in a hijab on September 11. Am I being Punk’d by Lifetime? Are Rob Lowe and Jennifer Love Hewitt going to show up now?
“Do you know how hard it is out there to make ends meet? And now you people want me to pay for my goddamn *bags*?”
I look around at the few dozen other people around me. Maybe if we all look around and shuffle our feet awkwardly the Speed Bag guy will pick up on the vibe and just stop. This plan doesn’t appear to be working though.
“SO I’M NOT GOING TO PAY FOR THIS BAG. THIS IS RIDICULOUS.”
Somebody should step up and do something to diffuse this situation. Wait. I’m somebody. DAMMIT. I don’t like where this is headed. I’m a person. Maybe *I* should try to do something. Double dammit. I’m not very good at being a person sometimes.
I put 30 cents on the conveyor belt in front of Speed Bag guy’s stuff and mumble something about how I found extra change in a payphone so it’s not a big deal. Then I look down at my other hand and realize it’s got a death grip on my clearly functioning cell phone.
Please, God. No one ask me follow up questions. Somebody else be a person now. All this somebody-ness is way too much pressure.
Speed Bag guy takes the 30 cents and looks at me. “THANK YOU,” he says in the same way most people say, “Fuck you.”
A few more excruciatingly awkward minutes pass as the cashier rings through Speed Bag guy’s purchases. I plug my ear buds into my phone and pretend to be listening to Very Important Music while answering Very Important Emails in a pretty transparent attempt to cover up the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ll cry if anyone yells at me.
My tombstone will not read, “Here Lies Larks: She Witnessed Unpleasantness In Target.” I will not sit my grandchildren down and tell them about that one time I gave a Speed Bag guy 30 cents. I know none of what just happened is a big deal. So why does it feel like it is right now?
Maybe today is just a Speed Bag kind of day.