Misplacing and places in line
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So the other day when my dad stopped by to visit, he was admiring the books on my shelves. I come from a family of readers, and though he didn’t mention it, he was probably fascinated by the all of the Civil War books. I know he likes history so he was probably checking out the titles.
I was going to point out the books I’m in, though right now they aren’t on their own shelf (because that would look silly) when I realized I’m missing a few. I’m missing two titles from a shelf that could stand scant few more books. That’s how I noticed – there’s actually room on that shelf when there shouldn’t be.
I’m pretty sure I loaned four copies of Publications I Am In to a drunk I’ll probably never see again unless I trip over her in the the gutter, and that’s a shame because I know at least one of those titles will never be printed again.
One I know I can buy right now and the author will be tickled. Another I can get if I didn’t already have five copies, but the last seems to be out of print according to both the site and Lulu.com and there aren’t any copies available anywhere.
The editor (do you know that originally typed itself as “deaditor”?) is eyeball deep in work so I don’t want to bug him (though I did anyway), but I’d really dig having a copy of Sinister Bedfellows Anthology back on my shelf again. Or three. They’d make nice gifts.
I’m trying my local indie stores, because I like to be surprised, but so far the luck just isn’t there.
Yes I’ve dropped him a line but if you know where there might be stores of Sinister Bedfellows Anthology, could you let me know?
Today I’m in line at the Post Office, because I have a care package to mail to a sick one (he claims delirium, so now is the time to ask for favors). I could have used the automated machine in the lobby, but I can’t ever remember what the weight limit is and I often fear that as soon as I drop my over-sized, overweight box into the chute, ATF and Homeland Security agents will repel from the ceiling, semi-automatic rifles drawn, and I will be late for work.
I stood in a line that crawled forward and even had time to fill out a delivery confirmation slip. Two people behind me was a woman who was in a hurry. You could tell by her sighs and grumbles. I don’t know if she had places to be or if she knew that her time on Earth was quickly coming to an end, but she was antsy and irritable. As soon as someone would leave the service counter, she’d bark – ‘she’s open” and then point at an available space at the counter.
Now I don’t know about you, but I never approach a counter unless I’m called forward. You don’t know if the clerk is about to go to lunch, or has extra stuff to put away, or was only there for a special customer – dunno. Anyone ever walk up to a clerk, only to have to stand there for a few minutes while she put money away only to have another lane open up and four people get waited on in quick succession while you stand there like an idiot?
Not me, but I feel your pain.
The woman two behind me barks every few minutes as clerks become free, and she’s leaning on the customer counter where all of the slips for Return Receipt and Delivery Confirmation and Customs are kept and shuffling her feet. Discomfort, I get it. You’re old and tired and broken and you just want to line to move forward. I’ve been there, but I never inflict my misery on others. It’s rude and no one really cares.
I am not in a hurry and I’m dressed like an adult today. Black jeans so new they look like slacks, long black sweater vest, white blouse and my Suede jacket. It has Pooh on it. My ID badges are even showing below my jacket. I am not late, I am professional, and I won’t be moved before it’s time.
A satisfied customer leaves the service counter and there’s an open window. I’m next. I live for moments like this.
“She’s open” the woman barks, and points.
I say quietly, because it’s early and I don’t yet have my yelling voice on, “When she’s ready for me, she’ll let me know.” I don’t look at her and it feels off-hand and dismissive, and that’s intentional. To me it sounds like someone telling a young child for the millionth time that the sky is blue because that’s why. To me I sound like my mother telling one or all of her children not to kick the back of the church pew because we might get hurt (not because the pew might collapse, but because she’s quick with a hat pin). It is a mellow malevolence that the Points women have down to a fine art, but it does not hurt to display this craft at appropriate times.
The woman begins this tennis-match motion with her head: me, the counter; me, the counter, as if her knocking her brains around will get me moving faster. I wanted to hear the hollow rattle inside of her head, but maybe her hair was too thick or perhaps the rattle was more of a squish which is hard to hear under the best of circumstances. From the corner of my eye I can see her open her mouth and close it, like a fish at the bottom of someone’s boat or a man at the bottom of the ocean. If she wants to mumble something, she either can’t find the words or doesn’t think she can mumble it at a level I can’t hear. She shuffles in place. She shuffles her envelopes and it sounds like a deck of cards in the hands of an inexperienced dealer.
All of this takes place over the course of maybe fifteen seconds, which must feel like an eternity of seconds someone in a hurry on the verge of imminent death simply does not have. It’s killing her and that makes me happy.
The clerk says, “next please,” and I saunter – yes I have a smooth and confident saunter that says I’m walking, but you know, it’s cool, you can look if you want, take your time, I’m not in a hurry – to the service counter, where I offer the clerk a nice bright smile and happy eyes, because we’re getting into the rush season and there may not be too many bright smiles and happy eyes for her in the near future. We have a light conversation while the lane next to me opens up. I do not hear “she’s open” and it’s a few more seconds before the woman directly behind me is called to her spot at the counter.
It is a small, petty vindication, but I’ll take it.
Don’t ever rush me. I will make your seconds as unbearable as I possibly can.