A couple of weeks ago, I was in Tennessee, paying for my self-serve yogurt and the cashier did that thing where she prolonged the transaction for A WHOLE 4 SECONDS. She paused to verify my phone number for the rewards program. It took four seconds. In that four seconds, the gal in line behind me sighed loudly and, in protest to this four seconds to which she felt entitled to not be waiting in line behind me, plucked a blueberry or a chocolate chip or probably a piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (because this yogurt place is crazy like that) and ate it. Without paying for it. Because, forget capitalism, to heyyyy’all with honesty, zap it all to zero because how could you make me wait in line with this Cinnamon Toast Crunch that doesn’t even melt for four more seconds of my life when I could have spent it paying for it? Or who knows, if I had that four seconds back, I could possibly have been inventing a way for frozen yogurt to not melt so fast or I could have developed an app for legal line-skipping. Imagine the possibilities!!
Yesterday, I was in Ohio for my sister’s wedding shower and I was standing at the counter of a cafe paying for my latte and scone. I ordered the chocolate and hazelnut scone because it sounded life-changing.
“Oh! You got the last one!” said the gal waiting behind me in line. She asked the cashier if they were going to make more, because she really seemed desperate for that scone. I suppose a nicer person could have just let her have the scone, but I am spending too much in therapy to not assert what I really want sometimes, even if it’s a complex carbohydrate that I don’t really need.
Then, the gal behind me said, “Ugh, I really wanted that scone!” and I kid you not, she actually stuck her tongue out at me.
Let the record state: I prefer the tongue sticker-outer infinitely more than I do the loud sigher. I will almost always favor the overt rather than the oblique. I prize the courageous one who will say it (or stick it) to my face, versus passive aggressively shoving it in their mouths in protest. The variable here is age, as I would presume the sighing lady was at least ten years my junior. The tongue lady was presumably my age or older. The one who sneaks and the one who sticks out–the range of their ages is not as great as the range of their behaviors.
I am generalizing here, but the above behaviors represent the two regions where I have lived. By showing two incidents where indignation flared while waiting in line to pay for food, I have witnessed the North and South, respectively. In the South, one rarely confronts. One steams in private and then, after composing oneself, one will address the matter if necessary. In the North, people will generally look you in the eye and say what they feel. I am a daughter of the North, largely the folksy Midwest but I borrow the assertiveness of New England, and this makes me a misfit here in the land of the peacekeepers and the watercooler whisperers. And yet, as much as I wanted to stick my tongue out at the yogurt girl, the South has taught me to reign it in, to move along, to deal with it later when I am not feeling so Northern confrontational about it. Bless my little heart.