Dellabee and Me

All content is mine and should not be reprinted/posted without my express permission

Rants on school, grief, and a gas station encounter

A few weeks ago I was waiting not so patiently in the Wal-Mart checkout line. The return to school and its subsequent scavenger-hunt-for-specific-school-supplies had left me irritated and prickly. I could not find a composition notebook anywhere in the store – and this was the 3rd place I had looked. I was really, really annoyed by this, as between the 2 kids I was in search of 8 such notebooks.

And in case you were wondering, the spiral bound notebooks are no longer welcome in the classroom. Not sure what they did to get the boot, but right now  they are as well-received in school as peanut butter and switch blades.

In case you were wondering, I hate WalMart. I’d love to say it’s for political reasons like they don’t pay their workers fair wages or their dependence on crap made in China is interfering with free trade and also giving everyone lead poisoning, but these reasons aren’t really the truth. I hate WalMart because the checkout lines suck. Whatever amount of money I save because of their low prices is then cancelled out by the hours of life I lose standing in long lines that don’t.seem.to.move.

Perhaps related to this: why the fuck do people still use checks?? So, a sidenote:

Dear Check-writer 2013,

If the fear of new fangled technology is what’s stopping you, then consider the economics of it. Check cards are free, people. Books of checks are not. And also it takes like a nanosecond to swipe your card and then BAM! you are done. As opposed to the epic wait times you cause everyone behind you in line as you fumble around for a pen that works, can’t locate your ID, and then struggle to rip the check from the book while also trying to question the cashier about the mark down on canned cat food that she may have overlooked. Seriously, ask the bank about it. You will be amazed at how much a check card will enrich your life.

Sincerely,  the 13 people behind you in line

This time at WalMart, burned out by my fruitless search for composition books and full of hate for everything around me, I again found myself waiting in the line that time forgot. I sighed and shifted my weight from foot to foot. I only had a few things to get. I contemplated just throwing them down on the nearest shelf in a huff and exiting the building. But that would mean going to yet another store that night and I just wanted to go home. So I dug deep and waited.

The lady in front of me had a ton of random crap thrown on the belt. There was no unifying theme. Cans of baked beans, boxes of Glade plug-ins, crackers, painters’ tape. It was a jumble. I shook my head and looked away. But a few minutes later all forward progress had stalled. When I looked up to make my angry WTF face, I saw that the lady had begun taking things back out of the bags. She did not have enough money for it all.

I (briefly) considered offering to pay for it, but honestly she put a LOT of shit back. It wasn’t like she was just short a few dollars. I felt myself thinking something like “maybe replace that bag of pork rinds with a calculator?” but tried to stop myself. Once she had the total down to her range, the lady cashed out and quickly pushed her cart toward the exit to meet another woman. They didn’t look at anyone as they left.

I’ve seen the “people that shop at WalMart” pictures, and while yes, some are hilarious, I think that is really mean-spirited. After all, wasn’t the person taking the picture also shopping at WalMart? Why not throw a selfie in there?  Because we all shop at WalMart. And I remember days when I felt nauseous at the checkout as I waited for the total, hoping that it was under what I had in my account. I remember when I was much, much younger the days of putting things back when I realized I too had gone over my financial limit.  And I remember the shock, the shame, the embarrassment. I remember avoiding eye contact, feeling my cheeks burn, tears in my eyes.

My anger was gone.

The woman wasn’t young, she was probably middle-aged. And I realized as I watched her leave that maybe struggle doesn’t really know an age range. And I hoped that if I ever had more crap in my cart than I had money to cover, the people behind me would not take my picture to post on a shame-inducing website or call a friend and bitch about me, loudly. I’d hope they’d consider a time in their lives when they too might have struggled.

************************************************************************************************************

In my post about Bailey, I lamented how people make the choice to euthanize a sick pet. The idea of having to make that call left me paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I did not think, if the time came, that I’d actually be able to decide what to do.

Then last week I returned home from a birthday party to find one of my beloved cats in a very bad state. She couldn’t lift her head up, her eyes were open but unresponsive, and she was breathing way too fast. Her yowley “meowwwws” suggested she was in a lot of pain. I didn’t see any injuries but feared that maybe one of the dogs had somehow hurt her. In a panic, I rushed her to the emergency animal hospital we had been bringing Bailey to for his cancer treatments.

Hours later we were left with no answers. She was still alive and looked a little better when we said good night to her around 10 pm.  She was responsive but unhappy. They could not give her anything for the pain until her vitals stabilized. Plans were made for different vets to look at her in the morning, she’d remain overnight for supportive care. Around 2am, the vet called to say she had taken a turn for the worse and that she did not think the cat would last throughout the night

And then I knew how people made the decision. It basically fell right into my lap.

I asked the vet to euthanize her.  I didn’t go to the hospital to be with her when it happened – in hindsight I wish I did, but in the moment I was so overwhelmed and sad and tired that I didn’t want to drive anywhere.

We had her cremated and her ashes are now in my closet, where the cat used to spend much of her time lying around and bothering anyone who came in to use the bathroom.

***********************************************************************************************************

On Friday the 13th, I stopped to get gas on my way into work. It was maybe 7:45am. While standing at the pump, another car pulled into the space on the other side of the pump, and suddenly standing next to me was a young girl in glasses and an ill-fitting long dress. In her hand was clearly a copy of The Watchtower. Oh shit, I thought.

“Good morning, ma’am, how are you doing today?” she asked.

“I’m fine, thanks. Heading to work.” She nodded and pushed her glasses up onto her nose a little further.

“Well I was hoping to talk with you about -”

“Oh, I’m not interested, sorry. No thanks,” I interrupted, turning back to the pump.

“I can understand that, ma’am. Most churches today can be so difficult for people. But I believe that our Lord Christ will one day return to Earth and-”

“Really, no thanks. I’m not interested. I’m an atheist, I don’t do church.” I silently cursed the slow pump.

“Oh, I see. I understand you are an atheist. Is that because, like, were you raised in a certain religion and then something happened or…?”

“Uh, no. I just grew up and realized I didn’t believe in any of it.” Clink. The pump stopped, my tank full. As I removed the nozzle from the car, she responded,

“Well don’t you wonder about what will happen after you die? Don’t you want to feel the Lord’s loving embrace when the world comes to an end?” I replaced the pump and twisted the gas cap closed.

“Well, no, not really. I think we have destroyed the planet, and at some point it is all going to be gone, and that when people die that’s all there is. Lights out.” I began to walk towards the driver’s side door. I was getting kinda pissed.

“The Lord is going to save us all from that. He made the earth for us, and he is going to restore it to the glorious way in which he intended it for us.”

“Well, I don’t agree with that. Good-bye.” I opened the car door and got in, while she continued to speak until I closed the door. I pulled my car around and as I did, the silver car pulled away, two white-haired women in the front seat and the girl in the back.

They hadn’t even been getting gas.

I was enraged. Mostly because I had only wanted to get gas so I could get to my meeting early enough to grab a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I was angry that they had forced me into a theological debate before 8am. I was angry that I was basically being harassed at a gas station. And I was most angry that she had forced me to be unkind.

After, of course, I thought of all sorts of smart, witty replies I could have said to her,

But as we know, life isn’t a dress rehearsal. It was the best I could do in that moment.

What more can we expect from ourselves?

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