Blog: An Ass (I Was, Was I, And I Wasn't)
(originally written 6/1/15)
Incident A: I Was An Ass
I'm pulling into our local post office parking lot, which has exactly one empty parking space.
Blocking that space is a blue minivan of some sort; it's parked perpendicular to the space, allowing exit room for the elderly female disembarking.
The woman struggles her way out and enters the building...but the van doesn't move. Does this clown really plan to just sit there while granny stands in line for 10 minutes, I snarl to myself.
Not if I can help it! About 20 seconds after the woman goes inside, I lay on the horn. Then and only then do I see...a second exiting passenger. This one is even older and even slower than the first, which didn't seem scientifically possible.
Immediately, I feel like a giant steaming pile of excrement. It's been a LONG time since I felt like this large of a turd, probably since I was invited to dinner by a lonely elderly couple I was delivering to 10 years ago. I didn't choose my words of rejection carefully and made the wife cry. But I'm not here to talk about the past.
It's clear I have to make this right. When the super-old chick finishes climbing out about 20 minutes later, the van parks in a newly-opened space further up. I park in the now-unblocked space and beeline toward the van. Try as I might to look...well...not large and black, the 60-ish driver still seems to be shitting himself as I approach. I quickly explain myself and apologize—he accepts, mostly just to get rid of me, I'm sure.
Incident B: Was I An Ass
I'm at our local Subway. There is one worker helping the one customer ahead of me. The guy seems—a bit special. It also seems like he's a regular there and he and the sandwich artist are familiar with one another...since he's rolling off joke after cheesy, painfully unfunny joke to her as she makes his first of at least two sandwiches.
I wait patiently and quietly as the first sandwich is completed. Never have I wanted earbuds more.
As the artist finishes up, the guy turns to me and asks "Why can't bananas tell time?"
I pretend I do not hear him, hoping against hope he'll realize I don't want to participate. Or that I already know why bananas can't tell time.
Ugh. I look up.
He repeats: "Why can't bananas tell time?"
Not even I would be mean to a special person, which meant telling him to shut the hell up and leave me alone was not an option—leaving three available:
Reply with an "I'm sorry, I'm not in the mood to joke right now", which I could tell wouldn't have dissuaded him,
Reply with a "Why?" and be held hostage through the making of at least one more sandwich because that WON'T be the last joke, or
I can be a real ass and feign an inability to speak English.
None of those seemed appealing, so I instead went with Option 4: walking out of the restaurant without a word. I didn't sigh huffily, I didn't roll my eyes or make a face. I just walked straight out with a blank expression and ate somewhere else.
Incident C: I Wasn't An Ass
I've taken Josie to the Redwood Hill Goat Farm up in Sebastopol. For years she's had a desire to try and milk a cow, but I could not find any dairy farms in the area open to the public. This goat farm was the closest I got, so off we went last year and again last month.
Throughout the day, various goats are swapped out and visitors young and old are given the chance to milk them—squeezing the udders and everything. Two people can go at a time, but at this particular moment Josie was flying solo.
Suddenly, another visitor—not a farm employee, not a member of the media, just some random short dark-haired chick—positions next to my child and snaps a couple pics of her. "Oh, she's just too cute. You don't mind right? I just haddd to."
Uh...no, you didn't.
I'm the first person to speak out against being overprotective of our children and assuming anyone who comes within 10 feet of them wants to eat them. Which is why I'm puzzled as to why this bothered me so much. Well, not exactly—I know why it bothered me so much: she didn't ask first and just assumed I wouldn't mind. (And I wouldn't have minded...had I been asked.)
What's puzzling, I suppose, is how I should have handled it. True, the woman looked completely harmless. But looking or seeming "harmless" doesn't absolve people of respecting boundaries and following principles, even if it is just a photo and they are really nice about it. Josie is cute, and over the years I've had unfamiliar ladies go as far as to plant kisses on her and just assume it's okay because they're "nice", proving you can be nice and incontrovertibly rude all at once. There are protocols to adhere to when it comes to others' children...or so I thought.
Since then, I've been wondering if I should have risked shattering the farm's joyous ambiance and used this as a "teaching moment" for the woman instead of just letting it go, or if I'm being the same overreactionary parent I often rail against.
(BTW some of the worst scum in the world looks harmless. Google Lidia Quilligana.)