In early March I wrote a diary about losing my temper and swearing at a cashier who was bad mouthing president Obama. It was my first diary and it garnered quite a lot of discussion here.
I got some "good on ya" comments and I got some "you are an asshole" comments too. But most of the comments were constructive in nature. Many sympathized with me as liberals but wanted to offer advice on how I could have better handled the situation. Engage the person in conversation, use it as a teaching moment etc.. I took that advice to heart and decided to find the lady again, apologize and attempt to explain myself. Well, tonight she was there working and I finally had that opportunity.
I wanted to do it sooner but it's not like I go there every day; maybe once every two weeks. Every time I was there though I did look for her. I finally saw her working one of the registers about three weeks ago as I was walking in. I thought to myself "this is it", rehearsing what I wanted to say in my head as I was shopping. By the time I was ready to check out however, she was gone; either off shift or on break.
So tonight on the way home from work I stopped in for a few things, looked over the cashiers like I've been doing ever since the first encounter, didn't see her and went on my way. When I was ready to check out I saw her standing at an open register with no line so I rolled up my cart and started unloading. I was trying to make eye contact but she wasn't looking at me at all. I wanted to smile at her. Just a simple, disarming smile.
She wasn't saying anything as she rang up the groceries so I waited until she was finished with that and finally looked up to give the total. I don't know what I was expecting really, recognition? Anger maybe? But what I got was nothing, not even a glimmer of "hey, who is this guy? I seem to remember something with him, what was it?"
But it just wasn't there. So I asked if she remembered me, you know, the guy who got mad at you for trashing the president? Still nothing. I began recounting the event and gradually I saw she was getting it. Her look changed from boredom to suspicion and she was suddenly on guard.
"I shouldn't have sworn at you, I'm sorry. And threatening your job, I'm sorry about that too. It's just that, it's just that I had had a bad day and you were saying things that I know aren't true about the president and I lost my temper and I'm sorry."
The words were rushing out of me and I realized I was on the verge of babbling so I stopped talking; feeling embarrassed and relieved and a little confused. This wasn't going how I had expected it to. She said nothing, just looked down.
I hesitated then went on, "I mean this isn't the place for, um, for that. You know?"
She said nothing still, only continued to look down and there was a line starting to form behind me. Now I felt pretty lame. "Um, ok then. So, sorry about swearing at you."
At that, she finally looked up, looked directly into my eyes. There was no anger in her, no fight, not even mild irritation; certainly no fear. She just looked tired. Plain old bone weary, dog tired.
She started ringing up the next customer and I left wondering what the hell had just happened. Did it help? Should I have just let it go? I had spun out so many different scenarios in my head involving converting her through reason and facts. Alternately, I thought I might get F-Bombed myself; not likely but possible. I also imagined her apologizing back, explaining that she never should have spoken to a customer that way. The silence though, I hadn't thought about that possibility. It kind of rattled me.
So here I am again, throwing this out there to you all. People I don't know but still feel a kinship with. I think the initial encounter left a deep impression on me, made me wonder what kind of person I am. I think all it was for her was a brief unpleasant moment at work.
I don't know if this was some kind of closure for me. It sure doesn't feel like it right now.