Once I finally got out of the house yesterday, things went less than smoothly at first. I started out in bad shape because the only thing I had to eat all day, up to then, was two pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey at about 11:30 in the morning. I was pretty hungry by the time I left the house and my head was starting to hurt. I sent Michelle a text to verify my suspicions, saying, “Would it be safe to assume that there won’t really be food for a while?” Historically, I show up “on time” for these events and they’re still thinking about preparing to start getting ready to start making food. It is what it is, and because I wasn’t feeling great I knew I had to take measures to accommodate that. Michelle never answered my text but I took that as a yes.
I went to the Pet Store to get the cat food with little incident and I went from there to BevMo. I know Monique, I know what she likes, and I knew that a “small” bottle of Patron tequila would make for a great gift. The parking lot at the shopping center where the BevMo is located is way too small for the number and types of stores that are in it and people tend to be really selfish and rude there. I was cut off several times just trying to get into the parking lot and into a space.
I left there and went around the corner to Target. By that time, I was cranky and my head really hurt, so the first thing I did was go to the snack bar. Only there were about 12 people in line and there was one employee behind the counter who was in no hurry to get anything done. I walked away from the snack bar with a different plan. I would buy a small Lunchable which would tide me over until I got to the party and food was ready. I grabbed a cart and started rushing down the fist aisle of the store, but there were two individuals who were meandering along. More than once they made like they were going to turn out from in front of me and as I’d move to go around them they would turn back out into the aisle. Finally the guy pulled the girl aside and as I rushed past them, I heard him say in a disgruntled tone, “Let’s move so this guy can finally go around us.” I sped on down the way, and around the corner to cut across the back aisle to the grocery department where I stopped to stock up on Diet Pepsi, both for home and for work (they had a good price on both, cans for home, bottles for work.)
Next I grabbed my Lunchable and headed over to Healthy & Beauty to get mouthwash and some pre-brush, whitening rinse (this stuff must work because every time I go to my dentist he asks me if I bleach my teeth.) Then I headed over to the appliances for my “semi-significant (to me – and probably only to me) purchase. I made up my mind that I was going to get a Keurig machine and I went to compare models and prices and determine which one to get. No sooner did I stop in front of the machines than the two people from the first aisle came around the corner into the coffee maker aisle and the woman was loudly telling the man a story about a work conflict. She was agitated just telling the story, and she used a number of curse words in the process of the telling. They just stood in the aisle, about five feet from me as she told her friend her story, and she was so loud I couldn’t even think. So I just stood there, staring at the machines and waiting for them to get what they came for and leave.
Finally, she changed subjects and started talking about a coffee maker. The guy said something about, “but it only makes one cup!”
She said, “Um, hello. How many people live in my apartment?”
He said, “OK, so are you gonna get it?”
She answered, “No, I’m not gonna get it! I’m fucking broke!”
And then they walked away empty-handed, but as they did, I heard her say, “That dude is just standing there, staring at the coffee makers.”
Um, yeah! ‘Cause I couldn’t hear myself think!!!
Finally, I decided which one I wanted and selected a box. They have labels on the boxes saying when they were packed, which I assumed was relevant because they come with a sample pack of K-Cups so I wanted the freshest one. I saw a box that said it was packed in January of 2012 so I grabbed that one.
The last thing I did before going to the check stand was look for a gift bag and tissue paper for Monique’s present and a card.
At last I made my way to the check stand. My head was splitting, I was getting jittery and I was hungry. Plus it was nearly 6:30 and while I knew the party wouldn’t be in full swing yet, it was supposed to have started at 5:30. I had two gift cards in my wallet that I intended to use toward the coffee maker and the balance was going on my Target credit card (5% off with the card). The other items I would purchase with my regular debit card. The cashier rang up the coffee maker and it came up $15.00 more expensive than the tag on the shelf said. He started to call for a price check and I glanced at the box again and realized I had put the wrong machine in my cart. I wanted the one that makes three different size cups and I had the one that makes five different sizes. I told him my mistake and asked if someone could go and get the right one. They were maybe 30 feet away. It shouldn’t have been a big issue.
The customer service manager came over and after telling her what I wanted she started calling into the radio for someone to bring up the right coffee maker, only she didn’t know what I was talking about, and whoever was on the other end of her radio didn’t know what I was talking about and I was getting flustered because I could feel that my blood sugar was getting low AND the cashier was doing a ridiculous job of bagging my items. He rang up the birthday card and put it on the counter in front of me and then put the gift bag and tissue in a bag before lying the mouthwash and whitening rinse on top of them. He wasn’t going to bag my six packs of bottles of Diet Pepsi until I asked him to do so, but then he put the Lunchable into one of those bags while putting the two cold bottles of Diet Pepsi I bought, on the counter in front of me. (I always show up at Michelle’s families house with my own beverages because I never know what they’re going to have.)
Finally, I told them to forget the coffee maker, there was just too much going on, and I proceeded to stand there and rebag my items as he was ringing them up. After I paid for the stuff, I was heading away from the check-stand, very agitated over the experience and the Customer Service Manager, who was between there and the door, stopped me and she apologized for the confusion. I pulled her aside and I said,”Actually I wanted to talk to you. I have to tell you, I’m a fan of Target. I shop at Target all the time, and at a number of different stores depending on where I happen to be at the time. This is the only store I’ve ever been to that consistently has a ridiculous line, in the snack bar, and one lone worker behind the counter taking their jolly sweet time.” I then told her about the way the cashier was bagging my items and I told her, “I know he was disabled, I saw his crutch. I’m not complaining that he didn’t move. I’m not complaining that he was slow. I get that, and it’s fine. I’m complaining because he clearly doesn’t know how to bag stuff. I was a cashier in high school and I was taught how to do this properly.”
She nodded her head and acknowledged what I was saying all along, and at that point she said, “I was too, and you’re right, he clearly needs some training. I’ll talk to him.”
And it was at that point that I suddenly saw myself from the outside and realized what was happening. I told her, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be yelling at you,” (I wasn’t actually yelling) “I’m just running late, my blood sugar is low, which is why I bought the Lunchable in the first place. I’m not normally like this, and I apologize.” Then I said, “I actually do want the coffee maker. Is it OK if I just leave my cart up here, I’ll go get the right one and just go through the express line?”
She said, “I understand. I’ve had these crashes before, too. Go sit down and eat your snack. I’ll go get the coffee maker and bring it up to Guest Services for you.”
I must say that once I ate the Lunchable, I started to feel a little better, but what I really appreciated out of this exchange was, when I got to Guest Services to buy the coffee maker, she had told the cashier to give me 10% off. I don’t particularly feel like I deserved the discount, but I was grateful none the less.
Finally, I got to Monique’s house for the party and the place was packed. Music was blaring, people were shouting to be heard over the sound of the music and over the sound of other people shouting to be heard. My head was still hurting a lot. I was the grouch at the party. I was torn. I wanted to celebrate with my friends, but I also wanted to leave, but I also didn’t want to be the party-pooper who left. Every where I stood, I was in someone’s way. Finally, I sat on a stool and made up my mind not to move. But then I took some Ibuprofen. And then I ate some food. And I had a drink. And a friend stood there and talked to me. And I started to feel better.
Not long after the cake was cut 2/3 of the people cleared out and it was just the core group. I don’t know when it happened, but my headache was gone, my blood sugar had stabilized, my mood had improved…and I was having fun.
And then the most ordinary, amazing thing happened. I had a lovely, involved, heart to heart conversation with one of the people there. One of the extended family members, Amanda, who is eight years younger than I, (which means nothing now, but meant everything 14 years ago when I met her), has been in a relationship with her girlfriend for more than six years. Amanda and I, talked about her relationship and her family and her experience of coming out to them. We talked about their nebulous plans to go to New York, when the spirit moves them and the opportunity presents itself, so that they can get married. We talked about the ludicrousness of the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal on a national level and the status of the Prop 8 case in the legal system. And we talked about my family, and my experience and what things are like now.
And we connected, with no awkwardness, no discomfort, no nervousness, just open, honest, loving communication between two friends who really understood where the other was coming from. And it was nice.
And I’m so glad I stayed.