Today I was standing in line at the checkout counter of a local drug store. Didn't go there to buy drugs, although by the time I absorbed the clerk's lack of common courtesy a little shot in the arm would not have been unwelcome. A little dram of some youthful elixir would not have hurt either.
I had gone to buy a (gulp - wait for it ...) a hair trimmer contraption. I did this because my son, who cannot leave his bed for the past seven weeks due to an emergency surgery and loooong recuperation period, is just about ready to climb the walls if he cannot get a haircut.
The morning had been spent refereeing (is that spelled right, because it looks wrong) between bouts of multiple nurses coming and going, and making calls to local barber shops, nursing homes and even a retirement center, all in the hopes of locating a barber who would be willing to make a house call. No such luck.
One guy did tell me that he knew a guy who used to do this, but he retired. Um-humm, so did I, and look where that's gotten me.
Thus, I found myself standing behind a guy buying dog food (did he know how lucky he is - dogs cannot complain if their grooming isn't satisfactory) and in front of a lady idly thumbing through the latest tabloids.
I placed the trimmer on the counter and swiped my credit card through the card reader, then I automatically asked the clerk, "Would you like photo ID?"
She said, "Oh, ok, all right."
That seemed odd, as the usual response is "Yes, please." followed by "thank you" as soon as they glance at it.
I turned my wallet around so the clerk could glance at my driver's license photo and then reached for my receipt.
She says, "Nice photo." I started to say thank you, but before I could get the words out of my mouth, she adds after looking at me for another second, "Must be an old picture."
I just sighed and said, "Yes, a very old one."
Granted, after seven weeks of nearly non-stop care giving, I am not exactly winning any beauty contests, not that I ever did. But honestly now, I ask you, is that any way to greet a customer?
Whatever happened to "Have a nice day" , or "Please come in again" - something pleasant and impersonal. Apparently her mother never drilled into her, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." My own mother's drills could have put a dentist out of work any day of the week.
As I gathered my purchase, along with retrieving my old photo ID and wallet, I took the opportunity to glance her way again. Ohhhh, now I see the problem.
She was well-groomed, cosmetics appropriately applied, every hair in place, and she had a set sour expression around her mouth and a thin smile that did not reach her eyes. There was a little glint of triumph that she had put me down, but not so offensively as to give rise to a complaint. It was just plain old pettiness.
You could tell she had been pretty once. Now here she was, about sixty years old, working in a local drug store at likely minimum wage, and her only jollies were in putting down customers with little sarcastic zingers.
You know what? I felt sorry for her. Life is far too short, and frankly often far too difficult, to take pleasure in putting other people down.
I was sometimes told, in the prehistoric dawn of time, that I was a "real looker". Guys whistled and women gave me compliments on my wardrobe. One local policeman, whose wife was a close friend of my mother, told my mom- to her utter shock and dismay - that I was the prettiest girl in town. Of course, it was a very small town - about the size of Petticoat Junction. Mom later recounted this little remark to me with a decided air of "Did you ever hear of such nonsense in your life?"
No, Mom, I never did. (But color me silly, I liked it.) :) Of course, I was only sixteen and didn't know any better.
But that is an "old picture" - really old. My new reality is that those things are in the past. But kindness still counts. Generosity of spirit still matters. And shoot, I've got more important things to worry about ...such as whether I am going to scalp K. when I try out those hair trimmers tomorrow morning.
Granted he likes his hair "high and tight" as they say in the military. But I am afraid he may wind up with missing and bald. Along with nicks, cuts and gouges.
I would say "wish me luck", but I am pretty sure that he is the one who is going to need it.
Until next time ...be kind, or please be still. I'm just saying ...Marsha