Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not-So Brave Days

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably have the impression that I am a hard-assed, super aggressive, hyper judgmental, argumentative person who is pretty much a pitbull to deal with anytime someone does something to irritate or disagree with me, and that really isn’t true. In fact, there aren’t all that many circumstances where I get ballistic. Most of the arguments I have with other people are had in my head after the true confrontation occurs, because there are so few situations where arguing actually benefits me. This blog (and others) has long been an outlet for me to let loose about all the things I hold inside when I stand there and take it from someone I wish I didn’t have to take it from. Being that I’m a nobody at work, and a nobody in my family, and a nobody in society, I take a lot from a lot of people who I’d really rather go off on, and that is why I have written blogs for so long. It keeps me from getting fired, kicked out of other people’s homes, arrested, or beat up by people stronger or too smelly for me to fight back.

You don’t believe me, I’m guessing. You’re thinking that my sarcastic and scathing words here cannot stay in my head without being unleashed occasionally, and it’s true, occasionally I do go off in a way that is more brutal than some of the meanest people I know can handle. That’s just because I save it up for so long and have fights with people in my head so many times before I actually speak up for myself.

It’s not just about confrontations. I’m pretty spineless in most situations. Ann likens this to having brave days and not-so brave days. That sounds much better than the spinelessness I attribute to myself on so many occasions.

For instance, I can relate some recent examples as proof.

Ann and I planned this big shopping trip to the Milwaukee Public Market a couple months ago. It was a big trip and we planned it weeks in advance, researching, saving money, etc. I pictured a true farmers market event in an indoor building, which thrilled me to no end because I’m a lover of farmers markets, but pushing through crowds in the blinding sun of a summer afternoon is something I despise. This indoor market sounded awesome.

We drove all the way up to Milwaukee, only to find that the free parking lot was full, so we had to drive around, getting a little bit turned-around and lost on the one-way streets, until we found street parking with parking meters. Ann and I fed the meter all our quarters, giving us 2 hours inside the market, and we actually thought we’d run out of time and have to return to feed the meter more. Unfortunately, this was not to be true. Instead, we found the market to be an upscale, yuppified collection of frou-frou food vendors, with only one solitary produce stand that had the exact same food that I can get at the local grocery store, complete with the same brand names on the packages. However, it was all very nearly twice the grocery store cost. Still, I bought a bundle of asparagus, some green beans, a bunch of bananas and a quart of strawberries for over $20. Then I bought a small, 8-inch coffee cake for another $9. On the way out, we bought lunch. I had a very small vegan sandwich with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and a pesto sauce, and a root beer for another $10. Ann got a baked potato and a bottled water for $8. We left and felt a bit ripped off, particularly when we realized we’d only used up 20 minutes inside.

Here we were, in Milwaukee, a half-tank of gas gone, $40 out of my pocket for a ridiculously small amount of food, and an hour and forty minutes left on the meter for us to play. We went back to the car to drop off our bag (bag, singular: $40 for one bag of stuff I could’ve gotten at Jewel for under $25), and while we were sitting in the car, we looked up and down the streets to see if there were stores nearby in which we could at least window shop. While we were gazing in all directions, looking for somewhere else to go, I noticed someone in a truck had pulled up next to and behind my car, clearly waiting for our spot, assuming we were leaving.

I said disappointedly to Ann, “Uh-oh, someone’s waiting for our spot.”

She responded, reading my mind, “I guess we have to go.”

I concurred, “I guess so,” and without a second thought, I pulled the car out and left, allowing some stranger to take my spot, though I wasn’t done with it, and use up the hour and forty minutes of free parking we left behind. For some reason, it didn’t occur to us that we were entitled to stay.

Later we laughed about it, particularly because we had no idea what to do in Milwaukee after that and simply drove home. How pathetic is that?! All the way to Milwaukee to blow way too much money, vacate our parking spot before we were ready to leave, all in 20 minutes, and go straight home. We might as well have gone to the riverboat and gambled most of our money away, only to hand our winnings off to the next person waiting to gamble because we thought we had to.

A couple weeks later, Ann and I were dining at a Culver’s, and, as usual, we sat in the restaurant for three hours after eating, talking and shooting the bull. Eventually we got hungry again and discussed placing another order, getting some ice cream before they closed, but Ann suggested we go to Coldstone Creamery, which she preferred. We hopped in the car and drove a few blocks to Coldstone. By then it was 9:30 at night and the folks inside Coldstone looked like they were cleaning up and ready to go home. The sign on the door said they were open until 10, but Ann and I were hesitant to go inside.

She said, “Look at them. They’re all cleaned up and it looks like they are just waiting to go home. We can come back another time. I don’t want to bother them.”

I very nearly agreed with her because I was thinking the exact same thing, and then I remembered the Milwaukee experience.

I sternly said, “Wait a minute! We gave up our parking spot before we were ready to leave just because someone else wanted to use it!”

She started to giggle. She knew where I was going.

I continued, “Coldstone is open until 10:00, and we still have a half-hour to get ice cream, whether they want to go home or not! We’re getting ice cream!”

And we did. And it was good. And the boys inside were not angry with us for wanting ice cream.

This is something we were relating to Christi and Marina tonight, because often we do not have brave days. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve eaten food at a restaurant that I never ordered, forcing it down and paying for it, despite the fact that I ordered something completely different and someone got it totally wrong. I do not complain. I do not send food back. I eat what I’m given.

Then Christi told a story, and Ann and I decided we need a little Christi on our shoulders, whispering in our ears, to empower us when we’re having not-so brave days.

Christi and her boyfriend recently went to Wendy’s, and Christi, who is a recovering vegetarian, ordered a single-stack hamburger, but instead received a double-stack. This was way too much meat for a recently-vegan girl to take and she reacted. Strongly.

Barely able to form words, she began the high-pitched squealing, slamming her fists, yelling about wanting a single-stack, getting a double-stack, and the idiots who gave her way too much meat. Hair was flying, fury was growing, and our sweet Miss Christi pulled the extra hamburger patty off of her sandwich and violently wadded it up in a ball with her bare hands, all the while yelling about getting the wrong hamburger. She looked at her boyfriend and warned him not to laugh or she would lose it, and I contested that she already had lost it. But what she did next was the best part. She took the wadded up patty of greasy meat and flung it out the window of the car on her boyfriend’s side. Only, his window wasn’t open as she thought, and the burger slapped against the window and dripped down the glass in a large smear of grease.

Christi’s boyfriend said, “Wow. All that for a hamburger?” and then the humor of her extreme reaction became realized.

I think I need to start flinging hamburgers at windows, too. Maybe I wouldn’t need to blog, then.


Travelin' Tracy said...

It is important to stick up for youself. This past Thursday and Friday we had parent conferences. One parent decided to yell at me because she did not like the B+ on her son's report card (never mind that the grading scale is inflated here). She was pointing her finger in my face and basically yelling in Albanian that I needed to help him get his homework done! The Albanian language can sound like a person is yelling, but she was really throwing it at me and it was supposed to be a 10 minute conference.

So after yelling so long that she did not even give the translator a chance to speak, I said, "look, if you would like to discuss this further, then walk up to the office and schedule an appointment and we can meet later." She then explained that she had experienced problems with the office last year and that she wanted me to schedule the meeting...yeah right! Anyhow, be tough...firm yet polite.

You are a somebody and you deserve inexpensive fruits and vegetables, parking spots, and lots of ice cream! Oh, and I know you are a nice person. I can just tell!

Cat. said...

...but if you didn't blog, then where would I (we!!--your many readers) be?

Still, yes--start small. Complain at restaurants if they bring the wrong thing. In your mind, think of it as a food allergy, and remember you are paying for them to get it right. It took me a VERY long to time click over on this one too.

It's sad that the first thing I thought of about the hamburger-on-the-window story is "YUCK! That's going to be a bitch to clean up!" :-)

Rachel said...

I used to let people walk over me usually, until I started work at the library... hehe, I've started becoming a hard nose, telling kids to hush-up and telling patrons they still have to pay the fine or wait their turn for a computer.
If we let people get their way, they're going to expect it from us so we have to be consistently firm and unwavering in our convictions and not let people take advantage of us.
You should let some of your inner blog out :D
You'd still get lots of stories to tell, I'm sure, as life is always going to be frustrating.
I keep a blog and more notebooks than I can count for the same reason you blog. ^.^

Magnoire La CHouette said...

Don't mess with my food!!
I've sent stuff back and refused to pay etc.
And I'm a wuss..