Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Who Needs a Comedy Club?

Three notes on observing people on a mid-week day off …

Maybe it’s because my parents never did it, or because they strongly discouraged it as rude and inferior behavior; or maybe it’s because I have too good of an opinion of myself and I am mortified if someone would do this to me, but it really bugs me when people admonish or pettily pick on their kids, partners, friends, or employees in public! I think, just like my parents do, that this is rude and uncalled for. Everyone, no matter how big their faults, has a pride and an ego. Only “things” don’t have pride nor ego. People do! To make a point out of trashing that ego means lack of respect and inability to find class in your own public persona. Means cowardice. And weakness, in my book. At any rate, you would not get my respect if you do it. There is no respect to be given where respect is lacking on your part.

But I digress.

So, I have a new bagel lady. And she is really lucky I absolutely love bagels and her store is ever so close to my house, because otherwise I would have stopped shopping there a while back! It’s always uncomfortable when I go in. She yells at all her employees, in a rude, and loud tone, although they all seem fine and respectful to her, the job and the customers.

So, today, I walk in and there is a new guy behind the counter. She is running the cash register, and helping two other customers, while he’s trying to make my bagel. I know he is new, and I can tell he is nervous. Big guy, his gloves don’t fit – makes me go “Aaawww. Poor thing!”. I ask him how he is, and he answers politely: “I am great! Just great! I have never had a bad day in my life! I am always fantastic!”. I am dubious.

She’s running the other two orders and screaming (and I mean “scream”) from across the room at my guy: “Josh, what is the young lady having?!”. I have not even told HIM what I am having, since he’s not ready yet. And why she would need to know before she takes care of the other two customers she has on her own hands, is beyond me… He ignores her.

She bellows: “JOSH, I said …!!!!! $4.50 for a refill, Sir. Oh, you want a dozen bagels too?! JOSH, you hear me???”. Forget about the fact that she’s interrupting her own customers who are trying to check out, she is more worried about Josh knowing what my order is going to be. He is trying to pay attention to me, and my order and I commend him for it.

I order, I walk to the cash register, shaking, almost, and she switches her attention to me. She is one of those people who walk into a room and completely fill it to the brim with her own emotional weight! She is loud, completely unaware of her own boundaries, and bossy. That last one is a polite understatement on my part.

She keeps shaking her head talking to herself loud enough that anyone can hear, appalled that “Josh” is ignoring her when she is asking him what “the young lady” is having. As if “the young lady” was deaf and mute ?!?

So, I say, pointing at my sandwich: “cream cheese sandwich, please.” Now, she is plowing into my emotional space:

“What do you want to drink, hon?”

“Nothing, thank you”.

“Oh” – she doesn’t look at me. Just raises eyebrow. “Really??”

“Really”, I say with a grin.

I hold my money out, when I see the price on the register.

“You want a bag for that?”
”No, thank you”.

“Oh” – shakes her head, looking at the register, again, not at me.

“You want your receipt for $2.50?”


She finally looks at me:

“You want me to shut up?”

I smile and don’t answer.

She laughs and answers her own question, looking at me finally: “Yeah, I guess you do!”

I put my change in my wallet as she is yelling at Josh again: “I cannot believe you absolutely ignored me while I was asking you what she wants. I mean, goddammit, what the hell is wrong with you, Josh?!”.

I guess he was getting ready to have the very first bad day of his life, I thought.

I had to go to my attorney’s office today, for this and that. The legal assistant is another one of those folks who just explode in a room. Heart on her sleeve, no secrets – this woman is. Your brain is on instant freeze around her – she’s that fast and loud, and … random. Her cell phone goes off, and she answers it, as I wait for the lawyer to see me at my appointed time.

I can tell it’s an emergency, as her voice starts raising more than usual (and trust me, that’s hard to picture, as her voice came raised from birth …), and her eyes start popping with “Oh, my Lord! Oh, honey, calm down! Oh, let me get him in here …”- in the fastest and thickest drawl you have ever heard.

Attorney comes in, as she’s telling him, almost out of breath (reminds me of Aunt Pitty in Gone with The Wind, asking for “her salts” whenever anything exciting happened): “Oh, it’s my friend, Wendy! The police officer is there to arrest her. He said she ain’t paid the court fees! But we paid them. A while back”. She hands the phone to the attorney. He goes into his office with it against his ear, while she’s fretting and looking for the receipt to prove to the officer that Wendy has paid her court fees.

I hear the lawyer say, politely: “Good day, officer. Officer, this was settled a while back, and we have the receipt from the Court House that we paid …” and his voice disappears in the office … The assistant is telling me about Wendy’s legal trouble and how lame the justice system is, and how “they cain’t keep track of nothin’”, and he comes back in the room, handing the phone to her: “Hey, Wendy is being wanted downtown for a hit and run, that’s why she’s being arrested. I know nothing about that. Here you go”. And hands the phone to her. She is quiet for about half of a second, which is an eternity for her – trust me! And then she tries to explain it to me while grabbing the phone from him and trying to appease Wendy.

But I stopped listening, and I follow the attorney into his office. He’s shaking his head: “It’s always somethin’!”.

I believe him.

At the post office today. Long line. The funny man, the postal worker, is there today. He is like a stand up comedian! Every time he is in there, there is not one straight face in the room! Sometimes, you might not be in the mood for lame jokes, but if you’re in there for more than 5 minutes, he will say something to at least make your frown go away for a second! You cannot help it. He’s helpful, fast and funny. Very, very funny! Kids and old people adore him, mostly. But other folks, too. I’d pay some days to be there a whole shift to listen to him! Talk about a man who’s never seen a bad day! Either that, or he can fake it well.

So, today was a busy day, for some reason, so I was there for about 10 minutes. A mom comes in to pick up her mail at the mail box, which is at the other end from the room with the registers, but her 7-8 or so year old son comes in the room with the postal workers and the line, JUST to say hello to the funny man. And the conversation goes as follows, which made my day, for some reason.

“Psst! Hi, Ralph! Just saying hey!” (the kid says, in almost a whisper)

“Oh, hey, hi, there, buddy! How’s school going?”

“Horrible! I am not learning anything.” – the kid says promptly, with a bored blink and a hand gesture to indicate lack of absolute everything, while hugging a couple of books to his chest.

After an unusual moment of silence from Ralph, who always, and I mean always has the right answers, he goes:

“Well, you’ve got to stop knowing more than the teacher, bud!”

“Yeah, I guess! Good to see you, man!” – the kid walks away with a shrug.

Sometimes, I just adore kids! As for grownups, well … again: you be the judge!

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