Monday, December 23, 2013

Christ-Message

Hello again, Dear Readers...

I know I don't write as often as I'd like to, or even as often as I should... But I'm sort of done making excuses about it, you know? I'd like to think we're adults, you and I, and as such, we know how life goes. Yes. Perhaps in the coming New Year, I'll write more. Perhaps not. Either way, I'm writing now and you're reading now, so let's just enjoy that while we have it, hmmm?


As some of you may know if you follow me on Twitter or have friended me on Facebook, I recently began a new job. So far, it has been pretty awesome. I work with a great group of people, have a fantastic boss, and support a company that does really neat stuff... and there are also some cool perks, like today being a half day from home. YES!

Days from home, especially right before a big holiday, are good for a variety of reasons... Say, the sweet potatoes I'm roasting right now, the pie I made this morning, or the dozens of cookies I'll start on once the potatoes are cooling... Getting a jump on holiday food preparation is always a plus... But another benefit is that it gives me an opportunity to try out quaint local restaurants that my discerning boyfriend wouldn't appreciate. So I decided to work my morning shift, finish all my cold prep, and grab lunch at this little fast casual mexican place up the road. Good plan, right? I thought so...

Now while the weather outside *is* rather frightful, it's not snowing. No, it's more like if snow got angry at people for saying how fluffy and lovely it was and decided to funnel that fury into becoming icy little pellets of doom inside a frigid watery coating... somewhere between sleet and hail, and it was coming down in great cold buckets... But that's OK! I'm not driving a wussy little Civic any longer! I have a big durable SUV! BAM! Weather don't scare me!

So I called in my order (Buffalo Chicken Tacos, extra guac!) and scooted out the door, icy projectiles plinking off my leather jacket and sparkling in my hair like jewels. Nobody out on the roads, really, so I kind of assumed that I'd be in and out of the restaurant with my vittles in minutes flat.


WRONG. I get there, and their not-huge-but-far-from-tiny parking lot is FULL. Completely full. And there's really nothing else in the immediate vicinity with any kind of reasonable parking, either. Ok... That's fine.  I'm a patient girl. I can wait for a spot to open up. Surely there are other patrons just picking up their food. Someone should move in a couple minutes, tops.

5 minutes of driving around aimlessly later, a woman emerges with two little kids and begins the process of battening down their little hatches. I suavely pull over behind her (being careful to give her plenty of space for her withdrawal from my parking spot) and flip on my blinker - what I thought was the universal sign for "Dibs on this spot." She pulls out and before I can even shift into gear, an asswad in a black Mercedes sweeps in, honking loudly (In warning? An attempt to threaten me? Some kind of bizarre mating ritual?). He cuts me off and steals my parking spot. Nice, eh? I sat there for a moment, shaking my head in wonder. Did that really just happen? Even Ye Olde Soccer Momme looks stunned as she drives away. I back up to begin the slow drive around the lot once more as a greaseball in a business suit and an expensive coat gets out of the Mercedes and makes his way for the door, pausing only to open an umbrella for the 10 foot walk. Yep. What'd I tell ya? Jackass.

A short time later, someone else vacates a spot and I, at last, make my way inside. By now, my food has been waiting for me for at least 15 minutes. My cheese is probably congealing. Who CARES that I like it that way? That's beside the point. Anyways.

I walk up to the counter and see Captain Asshole in line behind some other chick. He's wearing an expensive mohair trench coat. His shoes could pay my rent. He has enough product in his hair to drown no less than nine seagulls and perhaps a pair of ducks as well. I stride up behind him and get in line for my food, noting that he smells like someone dropped a few bottles on the floor at an aftershave factory and forgot to clean up afterwards. The chick grabs her food and leaves, and DJ McJerkington steps up to the plate.

He collects his vegan grilled seitan burrito with extra salsa verde and goes to pay. He swipes his card like he was born with it in his hands, only to have the young counter girl in her perky orange visor smile apologetically at him. "I'm sorry, sir." she says meekly, "But your card is declined. Do you have another form of payment?"

As you may have guessed, Jerkwater does NOT have another form of payment. He angrily demands the poor young waif run his card again to the same result. He raises his voice another few decibals and I'm pretty sure he's going to start demanding managers and free food and first born children, when I intervene.

"It's OK." I say to the wide eyed teenager behind the register, handing her my own credit card. "I'll get this." Sultan Shitweasel turns to smile at me, no doubt to thank me for my generosity, when his plastered on grin dies on his face. He swallows. "You're the girl from the parking lot." he says, looking just a bit stricken. My smile doesn't falter. "Yes," I say, "I am. And I refuse to let the actions of others dictate my own." He stands there, eyeing me suspiciously, as the clerk hands me my receipt. Then he snatches his food and bolts out the door. "Merry Christmas!" I call after his mohair clad back.

"What was that all about?" The young counter woman asks as she rings up my food. "Oh, nothing." I smile, "He just cut me off in the parking lot and took my space." Her eyes get big. "And you STILL paid for his food?" she asks, nearly as gape jawed as he had been. "Yep."  She taps a few keys and hands me a receipt before I can give her my card. "This one's on me." She smiles warmly, genuinely.

"Thank you! And have a wonderful holiday!" I say as I empty what meager change I have into the tip jar.

Now here's the thing... Could I have stood there, reveling in the glory of karmic justice, as Jackass got embarrassed by not being able to pay for his food? Hell to the yes. Part of me wanted to. But doing so would have done me a disservice twofold... First, it would have meant that asshole would've won, and here's why...

I like to think of myself as a nice person. I'm the kind of girl that leaves cough drops and Emergen-C on a sick coworker's desk, even if he's a dick. I always have change for the Salvation Army guys (and sometimes hot coffee or cocoa if it's especially cold out) and, in general, I try to make the world a better place where and when I can. If it had been someone else getting their card declined on Christmas Eve Eve (say the Soccer Mom, perhaps), I would've paid without thinking twice about it. If I change my behavior because someone else did something rude, what does that say about me? How strong are my convictions if one petty, self important man can change them with one jerky act? Not very strong, I'd say... and that isn't who I am. That jerk doesn't get to control me or to change the way I act or think or behave just because he's a jerk. That would mean he'd won, and there is no way in hell that man is winning anything over me. I'll buy a Mercedes of my own first.

Secondly, do you really think he would've been as impacted as, say, the poor girl manning the cash register, had he been allowed to continue his ridiculous outburst? No. I think not. People like that tend to carry their self importance and self righteousness around them like luggage, clutching it to their chests as if it were precious beyond measure. If he'd continued, a manager would've been called and he or she would probably have ended up just giving him his food to get him to leave peacefully, and what kind of a message does that teach ANYONE? Be a bitch, yell, make a fuss, and people will give you things for free? These are NOT the kinds of lessons kids, like the few still in the restaurant, need to be learning. They aren't the kinds of things anyone should deal with, on any side of the equation. Instead, I hope that someone, maybe even the trenchcoated slimebucket, will repay my kindness sometime. Maybe they'll hold a door open for someone, or even just share a smile or a kind word with a total stranger, because someone did something nice for them, and they remember how it made them feel, and how good it feels to do good things for others. Because that's what being kind is all about. Doing good things because it makes you and others feel good. The world needs more kindness, more smiles, more people feeling good and doing good. That's why I bought that jackass his lunch.

And so, self important Mercedes driver, wherever you may be... I hope you enjoyed your vegan burrito.