There are plenty of people—and you know who you are—who don’t like me. I just added one more to the list. We were strangers, but I’m satisfied she thinks I’m a jerk.
When I got out of my truck at the curb of the dry cleaners, I didn’t say to myself, “Well, here’s a good way to get somebody riled.” No, the attendant was on the phone and a customer was waiting. Instead, I thought: “If I take my order inside, this may help the employee and speed up the process for everyone.”
The next customer, stepping through the sliding glass door, was primed to pitch a hissy fit. With her
The clerk looked at me, and I looked at the lady. I confessed: “It’s my car.”
She went to the back of the line. In front of her was another man who had come in with his bag of dirty laundry. And I stood there, thinking what I should say.
It is strange how many thoughts can stampede through your mind in such a short time, but something told me to keep my lips zipped.
Several possible comebacks flashed by. I remembered Seinfield fans laughing about the sitcom’s quirky and grumpy deli operator dubbed the Soup Nazi. I wanted to chuckle and ask, “And who anointed you the Drive-through Nazi?”
Again, something told me to keep quiet. Thick skin is a handy shield when you are under attack. Still, I could feel the visual darts she was hurling into my back.
I admit the urge to speak was tempting, but I drew on the old advice: “When you lose your temper, you lose.” I could have sassed back, but then I would have lost my positive spin on the day. Several things—before noon—had already tried to rattle me, but I had pushed the annoyances aside. I wasn’t about to let her win.
Laundries and dry cleaners are hot and humid, especially in July. That morning, I believe the young clerk will agree with me: the mercury spiked several more notches when the Drive-through Nazi barked her complaint. And to intensify matters, it seemed to take longer than usual to count my shirts and slacks and print the ticket.
I was jumpy, hoping to exit before I spun in an about-face and did a dumb thing. Finally, I was handed my ticket and two dollars in change.
Without looking back, I walked toward the side opening, raised my hand to wave goodbye and muttered, “My apologies.”
Driving away, I reflected on what had just happened.
Apparently, the AARP-eligible woman’s mood was swirling like an angry tornado. I just happened to be in her path.
After the laundry storefront disappeared in my rear-view mirror, I thought of one point that I could have made. When the clerk hung up the phone and dealt with the customer in front of me, I was first. The man who walked in after me was second. Whether the Drive-through Nazi was standing behind me or sitting in her air-conditioned automobile, she would still have been waiting—third in line.
But if I had pointed that out to her, I surely would have licked the red off her candy.