More than two weeks into the new year and I’m still making good on one of my resolutions. I’m cooking on a pretty regular basis. The key, I’m finding, is not to be overly ambitious. I just try to think of one thing that would be really good and then add simple things to complement it. Yesterday morning I opened the freezer and pulled out a ham. It was just one of those heat ‘n eat kinda things. People in this house would be willing to eat that. And what goes better with ham than scalloped potatoes?
So the meal was planned, which is the other half of the battle. I find I am much more ambitious about cooking when I have a plan.
So I had the ham. I checked the potato supply in my refrigerator. It was low. I taped ten dollars to the kitchen doorway with a note that said, “If someone goes to a store today, please buy some potatoes.” (Yes, the kitchen doorway is our message center. It works!)
Alas, no one bought potatoes while I was away at work. (Shocker.) I had the presence of mind to check on this before I left work and so I made a stop at the grocery store before I went home. I walked in, grabbed a bag of spuds, and headed to the check-out where every open register had a line of people waiting to pay. I assessed my options. The express lane was way longer than the regular lanes. I found one where the patrons ahead of me had relatively few items and I got in line to wait my turn.
Right about this time, one of the cashiers was ending her shift and closing down her lane. She was a girl of high-school age. As she stepped out from behind the register, she made a sweeping glance at the number of customers in line and stopped short with a surprised realization on her face. She then hurried over to the second express lane and removed the closed sign, calling out, “I can help someone over here!”
One woman headed her direction, and then another. I followed behind them. Each of the women ahead of me had only two items so we were moving along quickly. I waited behind a woman with red curly hair. She was purchasing two bags of potato chips. Her bill rang up to five dollars even and she was writing a check to pay for them. And as she wrote the check, she tilted her head to the side, and eyed up the cashier, saying in a very sarcastic tone, “The appropriate thing to do when you opened up this register would have been to say, ‘I can now help the person who was next in line.’”
She was apparently annoyed, thinking she had a right to be rung up first. The poor cashier could only look at the woman, clearly at a loss as to how to respond. She had opened a register when she wasn’t even required to do so in order to help get the customers on their way and she was being criticized for the way she had done it.
Seriously? Why do people have to speak to others in that manner? I am so tired of arrogance. So tired of self-righteousness. So tired of the me-first attitude. When someone speaks to me with a biting tone and a snotty attitude, believe me, it does not make me willing to hear what they are saying. It only makes me want to slap the person and tell them to grow up and mind their manners. What is that saying about catching more flies with honey? Why don’t people get that?
As the arrogant woman bagged up her potato chip purchases at the end of the conveyor belt, the cashier began to ring up my bag of potatoes. I said to the girl, “I saw you close up your other lane. I appreciate that you opened up this lane for us. That woman was rude.”
The girl just smiled shyly and said thank you. She told me to have a wonderful evening.
Out in the parking lot as I walked to my car, I could see the red-headed woman flouncing off toward her own car. I wanted to run after her, grab her by the curls and throw her down on the pavement. I wanted to poke the heel of my boot into her chest as she lay on the ground and ask her who she thought she was. I wanted to ask her who writes a check for five dollars worth of potato chips anyway? I wanted to ask her if it had occurred to her that all she had accomplished was humiliating a poor high-school girl. I wanted to tell her that if she’d intended to teach the girl something valuable, she had failed because whatever point she was trying to make was lost among the heaping pile of rudeness she’d just dumped on that poor girl.
Instead, I startled an older gentleman who walked just ahead of me when I hit the unlock button on my key fob and the tail lights on my car lit up just as he walked behind it. He jumped about three feet back and I called out to him, “I’m sorry! That was just me unlocking my car!”
I felt bad for scaring him and relieved he hadn’t had a heart attack because of my actions. But the gentleman just smiled at me and said, “I thought the car was going to back up, but I didn’t see anyone in the driver’s seat!”
We both laughed. I got in my car and he continued on to his. As I was backing out, he was heading back toward me, on his way to the store again. He waved and smiled at me and I smiled back at him. I think he was there to remind me that there are still good and kind (and patient) people in this world.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people and I hit the gas pedal, roaring off to see if I could catch up to and run over the curly red-headed chick and teach her a lesson once and for all by leaving my tire tracks across her neck.
Not really. But it felt good to imagine it just for a second.
Oh, and in case you were wondering … the scalloped potatoes were fabulous!