Recently I realized I had been feeling stressed and put out because my sense of right and wrong has been challenged to increasingly ridiculous lengths, and far too often of late. It hit a peak some time last week, when I was finding myself angry and unreasonable over the smallest things that were somehow out of order in my life. With the unintentional help of a few complete strangers, I was able to shift back into some semblance of sanity.
I approached the service desk at the auto dealership. “I received a call saying the parts are in to get my car fixed from last year’s recall.” I had waited six months for a phone call to say the parts were in and they would be able to repair my vehicle.
“Oh yeah, okay. It’s going to take about an hour and a half, but if we could have your keys you can go take a seat in the waiting area.”
I handed over my keys and went to the designated area. The room was an open space with about a dozen chairs all arranged in an “L” formation along two walls of the room. I was alone and sat in the last seat nearest the door. I had brought a lunch sized brown bag full of cloth scraps that needed to be cut into smaller strips for the braided rug I was finishing for my mother’s birthday. I was hoping to cut them so that I could go home later and finish assembling the rug that was currently spread across my living room floor. As I sat quietly cutting, another patron entered the room and sat at the furthest chair from mine. He immediately turned away from me and secreted his phone in such a way that it was at most two inches from his face. He dialed his phone and in an angry Spanish dialect spoke into his receiver, at one point saying “la perra con tijeras.” He finished his phone call and periodically looked over his shoulder in my direction where I sat silently snipping strips. He sighed often and loudly. Occasionally he would sound utterly frustrated with my lack of attention, and would let loose with an exasperated “aarrgghhhhhhh.” After about four or five of these sounds and a few audible “Tsskkkkk” noises, he blew. “Would you just stop doing that?!”
I cut another two or three strips before I responded without looking up. “You know, if you had asked nicely I may have thought about it, but I’m pretty certain you just called me the ‘bitch with the scissors,’ so I’m not feeling particularly inclined to do anything for you.”
” Oh, you got that huh?”
” sí, todo no es un idiota.” (My Spanish stinks but I was trying to say “Yes, everyone is not an idiot.”)
” I apologize.”
” As well you should , thank you.” I kept cutting.
” Are you going to stop that?”
” Did you ask me nicely yet?”
” Aarrrggghhhhhh. Would you PLEASE stop doing that?”
” The cutting really is irritating you that much? Wow, that’s really hardly any noise at all, but since you asked so nicely…” I put away my scissors and cloth.
No sooner had I done so, and another older man carrying a folder and flipping noisily through his papers entered the room. He sat in the seat directly adjacent to Mr. Scissors. This man continued to rifle through his papers and intermittently look up toward the ceiling to let loose with a nod of his head and a loud ” HUH!”
Mr. Scissors and Mr. Huh went on alternating for some time sounding like some weird dysfunctional factory…”HUH!”, “ARGGGGHHHHH,” “HUH!”, “ARRGGGGHHHHHHH,” “HUH!”… until finally the mechanic came in with my keys in hand and said, ” All set!”
” Woohoo! So my ignition is all better?”
” Well no, we didn’t touch your ignition.”
” The recall was for my ignition right?”
” Technically yeah, but we just replaced the top of your keys.”
” You replaced the TOP of my keys? The little black thing on top of my keys?”
“Yeah, we made the hole smaller so people don’t attach too many keys to their key rings and weigh down the ignition.”
Realizing I had been inconvenienced for over an hour and exposed to the ridiculous idiosyncrasies of strangers for the sake of what GM thinks of as a behavioral issue, I decided the world really has gone mad and there is very little I can do about it. I laughed having learned a small lesson and feeling as though my sense of order never was and did not need to be restored…