Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Old Picture - A New Reality

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.
Hair Clippers

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 kind, or please be still.  I'm just saying ...Marsha


  1. You do get some rude people don't you? My mum always used to say 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all' and I have passed that on to my girls. I don't understand nasty people, where do they get the energy from?
    Hope your son recoveres well and soon - and that you manage to cut his hair without scalping him. :))

  2. It is great to see you still have a sense of humour and politeness after being nurse maid for so long.Hope the hair cut goes well. Bill insists I cut his hair to save money and because he hates barbers. I use scissors and his razor attachment for the neck. I doubt I could do high and tight, whatever that means.

  3. I have come to expect rudeness. It is ubiquitous. I really don't think anyone is taught basic manners any more. It is most disappointing to see us sink so far as a nation.

    Good luck on your trimmin'---you'll be fine.

  4. I am sorry that she was rude to you and so glad that you could look at it as her problem and not let it get you down.....

    You really have a gift with words and I love coming for a visit to read what you have to say.....and your humor is so right on....

    I hope the trimming goes well and both of you are happy when the cut is completed....

    Have a great day...

  5. You were very understanding with that woman, as uncalled for as her remarks were. I hope it goes well with the hair trimming!

  6. Oh your experience is tooooooooooo familiar...and sometimes I wonder if parents even teach manners...and then I also have to think, I don't know what life has thrown them...oh my, so sorry

    You can do it...I do my boys and dog's hair all the time....start with the largest size and then go down if he wants it is easier to cut it too long than try to recover from it being too short...done that one a few times....but is only hair and it will grow back

    Go for it!!

  7. RUDE!
    No excuses.
    Bad day. Hard life. Bunched up panties.
    No excuse for that type of behavior.

    But, truthfully, no one is expected to have a good drivers license photo. When things get dull at a party I drag mine out and it's always good for a laugh - Really!

  8. I don't know why people are rude on purpose - it takes so much more energy to do that than to just be nice. I suppose she could be one of those who don't have a filter - says just what she is thinking.
    I sometimes get the same thing only in reverse. When my license picture was taken I was in the first throes of RA and was all puffy from steroids. My hair was short which accentuated it. I've lost the puffiness and my hair is long now so people do a double take when they're verifying my ID - my picture was that bad!
    You are a lovely person. Even more important, you are lovely on the outside AND the inside. No sense having a pretty face if you're nasty on the inside.