If I wasn’t looking, I wouldn’t have seen; I’m never really sure if that is better or worse.
Any attentive, creative mind could write volumes (and I imagine even semi-interesting ones) about the oddity and unpredictability of the American grocery store. I can’t recall a trip in which I didn’t see something that, even on my widely-sliding scale, wouldn’t be considered major-league odd.
How we perceive what we see is what keeps the innocuous from becoming monotonous, I guess.
I’ve been forcing myself to stay even busier than usual lately; An often-unsuccessful attempt at a distraction from myself. I didn’t need anything, but wanted ice cream, and went to the smaller of the local grocery stores to get it. Independently owned, single location, and a strange mix of normal things and fancy things. I imagine the hybridization is a necessity, since if someone is spending $8 on a bag of hand-made, organic, ethically-sourced supercookies, they may need to save a bit on name-brand white rice and toothpaste.
The outing was a non-necessity, and I was in no particular hurry. I noticed an interesting young couple pull in a few spaces down in a well-kept older convertible, and waited a few moments to exit the car and move behind them, as opposed to walking near arm-in-arm in the small lot. They would very likely never have noticed; I would have noticed.
In a world in which the list seems to get shorter every day, it was nice to observe what seemed to be two kind, pleasant people interacting with each other and the world around them like non-assholes; Disappointed but not surprised that such a thing, is such a surprise.
I got my ice cream, had a short and pleasant interaction with a woman that has been working there each and every time I have visited (and always remembers me), and made my way. As I walked back into the parking lot I noticed another boy + girl couple.
I’m not a big fan of glaring generalities; For lack of interest in detailedly describing someone so uninteresting, let’s say the boy was a… metal hipster. His physical and superficial aesthetic did not match: Fat and physically unkempt, with an attempt at a sharp outfit, and a girl by his side that must have been either blind or indentured. Or, band; I always forget what misguided enchantment playing even terrible music can be.
As they walked, he moved away from her, and towards the older convertible. It became clear quite quickly that he was not admiring the bodywork, and was actually snooping to see if there was anything not tied-down that he could walk with. I gave it another few seconds, in the interest of fairness, and then addressed him.
“Hey man, is that your car?” He turned and responded quickly “Yeah. It’s my car. Why?” … “Well, it’s not your fucking car, since I just watched people that aren’t you get out of it five minutes ago, so get away from it.” Clearly not versed in the school of confrontational strategy, or listening, or not being a total fucking moron, he replied “Mind your own business, and it IS my car.”
I am saintly patient, right up until… I’m not. “Get the fuck away from that car, and walk on. I’m going to stand here until you do, so fucking get moving.” And… as if out of an “Idiots that wander into my life” playbook, he says “Is there something you’d like to do about it, bro?”
When I document situations like this I will occasionally describe my outfit, or another piece of circumstance that makes a response I received particularly curious to me. Today, I was coming from the gym, it was abnormally hot, I was wearing a tank top with rough-looking symbols printed on it, and relatively small shorts. There is, in my opinion, no way that I looked like easy prey right at that moment.
I did not want to fight, and was even surer that he didn’t, so I responded as if I absolutely did, and “Bro’ed” right back at him. “Well motherfucker, I will put you to sleep and take your girlfriend, if that’s the route you want to go… “ Walking towards him while asserting myself elicited the desired response “I wasn’t trying to start anything, for real man. I’m going. Chill out.”
Other least-favorite things: When the very fucking person that heightens a situation tells the hive they poked to calm down.
(Some local punk rock wrestling nerd started a fight with us a while back, and as I was choking him, he was tapping me. Same thing. YOU started trouble. We are not friends, and we are not training. Don’t tell me to chill out, and, don’t attempt to tap in a streetfight, especially one you started… )
As threatened, I watched until they had cleared the lot. She was clearly mortified, and I was sympathetic. I would have a hard time believing things were the same for them, even right as they left the lot. That is, unless society has truly shrunken to a state in which petty thievery, cowardice, lack of accountability, and disrespect are so common that it is no less than what “she” expects.
Less, unfortunately, is what we have been made to expect.
As expectations continue to fall, I appreciate so profoundly those that rise past them, and become more vigilant by the day in attempting to exceed my own.