…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Friday, July 07, 2006

this morning at starbucks

“My” Starbucks is busy, especially now that tourist season is in full swing. Most mornings, a line extends out the door and onto the patio at the Hollywood and Highland complex. So it was that I was standing in such a line a bit before 9 this morning, alternately being charmed by the singsong cadence of “my” Starbucks’ newest employee, a Brit who surely took diction and etiquette lessons from Miss Julie Andrews herself, and wondering who the heck thought it necessary in 2006 to cover “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” which was merrily jangling through the speakers at me:

You'd better look before you leap still waters run deep
And there won't always be someone there to pull you out
And you know what I'm talking about
So smile for a while and let's be jolly; love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can

The guilty party is Martina McBride, and she lays it down without a trace of the irony with which you or I would surely smother the song were we to get drunk in a karaoke bar.

You know how it works when lines extend through doors—most notably at concerts, during intermission, when 5,000 women have 15 minutes and five bathroom stalls in which to pee—there are the people inside the establishment and the people outside the establishment, and then there’s the doorstop: the poor schmuck stuck holding the door open so that the people outside can see what’s going on inside. If the door isn’t held open, one or more people behind you are liable to get all antsy and think you’re just idly standing in front of a closed door, or that maybe you don’t know how to open it. (I’m reminded to be grateful that humans don’t come standard with horns—the loud kind, not the ramming kind, though those would be dangerous as well—because they’d be honking them all the livelong day.)

Just as the guy in front of me at Starbucks was due to assume doorstop duty, he pulled up a chair and sat down just to the right of the entrance, out of the line of the door and in the shade. “Man, this wait is crazy,” he said, then, looking at me, added, “I’ll catch up with you.”

Catching the door as the former doorstop squirted inside, I thought, He can’t possibly mean that I’m supposed to hold his place in line for him, that he’s going to sit there until I make it to the counter and then, like a dear old buddy pal of mine, slip inside to give my beautiful Mary Poppins his order. I decided that he didn’t expect that, that the scenario was so impossibly rude anyone with common decency would be embarrassed to attempt it.

For the record, I believe in extending common courtesy to others. I’ll hold the door for anyone, young or old, man or woman. I’ll hold it longer for a senior or a physically challenged person. And I don’t mind being thanked or acknowledged for doing so, because I think if I’ve taken the time to notice and accommodate someone, they can find the time to nod, smile, or even say thanks. I sometimes wonder if young, able-bodied men who blow through doors I’m holding open without so much as a wink in my direction suppose they’re doing feminism a favor? That would be the more charitable explanation.

Indeed, as I approached the counter, Mr. Sitonhisass popped through the door and slid into line in front of me without a glance or a word in my direction.

Had he asked me to hold his place in line, I would have. But three human traits I find particularly galling are arrogance, selfishness, and presumptuousness, and he managed to nail all three in one gesture. I so often find myself speechless in the presence of louts like him, but then I hang on to the psychic angst they generate far longer than I should.

Tell me, am I taking the decline of Western civilization too personally?

I’m trying to think of ways to let go of the negative energy I unwittingly glean as I move about society. Maybe I could take a cue from soccer and carry around yellow and red flashcards to signal violations of generally accepted manners. Just stoically hold the appropriate card in the offender’s face for a couple of seconds, then move on. They may have no idea what had just happened, but I could walk on in peace, leaving the toxicity behind to be reabsorbed by its source.


Blogger sporksforall said...

Ok, this post has a number of disturbing issues that must be addressed:

A remake of "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden?" Without irony? By the by, the "original" is now going through my head, which is ALL your fault.

Human horns? Such a bad idea but a cool visual image. Some people should have those horns with the rubber balls on the end stapled to their heads. That would look cool (or not). More not.

I love the soccer card idea. I used to be a soccer referee for very small kids when I was in high school. I never got to use the cards once, even though I had them.

As for the asshole, I just can't go there.

12:50 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Would it were as easy as waving a card to let go of the negative energy.

I know it might be tempting, but you must somehow refrain from using your transcendent abilities when faced with such situations. Be still. Keep on keeping on. And expect the unexpected while you're at it.

1:23 PM  
Blogger scout said...

WTF good are transcendent abilities if I can't employ them to transcend the rude and the stupid in our midst?

1:52 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

The problem is, even when you confront a rude person you are still awash in negative energy afterward, if not more so.

2:27 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Maybe your neck nubbins would help?

3:01 PM  
Blogger scout said...

That just irritates the crap out of me: The rude person goes all tralala on their merry way while we're left awash in their negative energy. Argh. There has to be a way around that dynamic--other than daily spa visits, which I heartily endorse but sadly cannot afford.

3:02 PM  
Blogger scout said...

My neck nubbins would definitely help. I think it's time to get them reinstalled.

3:37 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

Oh, like you needed Wendy to encourage you to get the neck nubbins back.

3:51 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

I thought you liked the battery charger, Sporks? :)

6:49 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Put the irritation in a bubble and visualize it floating way. You'll be awash in negative energy no longer.

That or re-up your neck nubbins. My vote is for the bubble. :)

7:16 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

Okay, scout. I have to call you on your lack of people-first language. I must correct you: that guy in front of you at Starbucks and all the people like him? That's "people who are dickwads." Please watch your people-first language!

And the yellow/red card business is brilliant. I lmao-ed when Jon Stewart used a very similar bit on his show a few weeks ago. Just pulled a yellow and a red cart out of his jacket pocket and said it would be really handy to have them available in our daily life...

8:08 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I do like the battery charger, but scout likes it better. She hearts it.

9:13 PM  
Blogger scout said...

Oops, didn't know I was stealing material from the great one. Argh. Must apprise self of Daily Show bits before I blog.

Just a couple hours ago I had what I hope to God is my last MRI. I could get my nubbins back to celebrate. (My first MRI made me lose the initial piercing, 'cause it was steel and I had to take it out so's it wouldn't get sucked out of me in the woo-woo tube; the piercing was too new and the holes closed. I removed the second piercing on the effed-up advice of the acupuncturist.) Piercing number 3 to celebrate MRI number 4—sounds like a plan!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

You shouldn't have let him get in front of you. You should have stepped right in front of him. He would have whined about it but you then tell him that's what you charge for holding someone's place in line - they give up that place to you.

I was in an elevator one time, a woman got on, she saw a co-worker in the hall, held the elevator door open and started talking to co-worker. Then, without turning to ask me if it was ok, she asked co-worker if she should hold the elevator while co-worker retreives stuff from their office. I answered, 'No!'

The woman in the elevator was all pissed off at me. Fuck that. This is America. Ain't nuthin' free and my time is not freely given to strangers who think it's not valuable.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous hopskipjump said...

I heard something the other day that has stuck with me. Psychopaths have it all over us regular mortals because they can do just about anything, no matter how cruel - why? - because they are not bothered in the least by any emotional consequences.

So, I'm thinking maybe there is a kind of continuum - from being ridiculously haunted by guilt for even the imagined minute transgression to being quite unaffected by any suffering, no matter how severe.

Other than hoping there is some kind of consciousness raising that is possble I think we are each stuck with our own ethical compasses.

Somehow I find this comforting. Rude people are stuck in an unenviable position really.

10:24 AM  
Blogger weese said...

this is exactly why i spend so much time in my own backyard.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

The problem is, rude people don't think they're being rude. That's why they're rude.

10:55 AM  

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