What do y'all do when the world constantly thinks that you are just one big fat pushover? You know what I mean. A stooge. A milquetoast that wouldn't speak up if her hair were on fire. A timid, quiet, mousy little person who won't mind waiting for/foregoing/passing up on something that somebody with a bigger mouth or more pressing need wants/needs/does.
I wish I could tell you where it all started, but the last few days have been one "Here, please bend over so that I can chooch the pooch" experience after another. If it wasn't my fancypants glasses needing repair and the fancypants boutique owner telling me that "they're supposed to look like that", it was the fishmonger throwing $30 with of halibut in a bag and saying "Yeah...it's freezer wrapped." (Sadly, it wasn't.) I spent the morning at Aunt Chrissy's house because I was supposed to get a new roof today and I didn't want Stewey to have to go batshit every time he heard a noise outside, but apparently the roofer decided that somebody else was more important than the testy spinster who has been waiting since last August for the guy to bother to show up. I am, in short, the Rodney Dangerfield of Spinster Lane.
When I moved to New Jersey, I made the mistake of stopping for my very first bagel and coffee without one damn clue how to do so. The place that was on the way to work was very very busy, so after standing in line for about 15 minutes it was my turn at the counter.
"Whadda ya want?", said the big burly guy behind the counter.
"Oh, well, hello and good morning! I've just moved here from Indiana and I've never been in your nice little establishment here before, so I thought I'd try one of your....."
"Lady, if you don't know what you're doing, go sit over there and figure it out so that I can wait on everybody in line behind you that does. NEXT!"
I skulked out of there and never went back because I had just been told that I was too stupid to order a bagel and a coffee.
So when I went to the next place I got my act together and memorized my order precisely. I was just getting ready to squeak it out when a woman barged right back up to the counter and said "TONY! I TOLD YOU I DIDN'T WANT SESAME SEEDS AND YOU GAVE ME SESAME SEEDS! YOU DID THIS TO ME YESTERDAY, PAL, AND I'M NOT LEAVING UNTIL YOU GIVE ME THE POPPY SEEDS THAT I ASKED FOR. GOT IT?"
Tony smiled sheepishly, took the bag with the offending sesame seed bagel in it and said "Sorry, Loretta. Here's your poppy seed. You have a nice day now."
I was stunned.
Here was someone who had asked for something, and when she didn't get it, she spoke up. And, more importantly, the floor didn't open up beneath her feet and suck her down to hell in one fell swoop. She spoke up and she got her bagel.
It occurs to me that what I'm doing is giving off a vibe that says "Oh, please don't respect me or listen to what I have to say or what I want. I'll just stand here quietly and take whatever you give me and I'll be happy about it. " And, if you happen to be a waiter or waitress... this is your lucky day. Because I'm one of those schmucks who will leave you a 40% tip if I'm so bold enough to ask for something extra....like a clean knife. Or a glass that doesn't have bleach in it.
Damn. Where the heck did I get this from? It certainly wasn't from Dad, since I know that he could tell somebody to go to hell and they'd look forward to the trip. And as for it coming from Mom...well, let me tell you that there is a Mrs. La-Z-Boy who will attest to Siggie's firm determination to be the recipient of good customer service. Here's the story:
When we moved into our Lima house, Mom bought two chairs for the family room. Dad's arrived and was wrong. The fabric was flawed, the mechanism was bad, and it was, in short, a lemon. Mom sent it back. About four times. The fifth time, the salesman was standing in the family room arguing with Mom, and when he said "Lady, I don't know what your problem is. We've sent you five different chairs now and you're not happy with any of them", Mom said "No...you've sent me the same chair five times hoping that I won't notice it."
Here's where he made his tragic mistake. "Oh, come on, lady. This is a brand new chair. We at La-Z-Boy would never do such a thing."
With that, Mom flipped the chair over and pointed at her black magic-markered signature written across the bottom of the wood frame.
"See that, fella? That's my signature. And I'll have you know that you've been delivering that signature back to me for about six months now. So if you'll excuse me, I think it's time for me to take this little complaint of mine to the next level. Good day."
Mom packed that chair up and had it delivered to the home of the biggest muckety muck she could find at La-Z-Boy. On it she taped a note that said "Dear Mrs. La-Z-Boy. If you'd have this chair sit in YOUR living room, you're welcome to it. It will not sit in mine."
We got a new chair two days later. And there wasn't one thing wrong with it.
So why can't I just strap on a big fat pair of Mom b-lls and get on with it? I'm not talking about being mean or rude or nasty or unreasonable. I'm talking about speaking up when somebody out there has done me wrong and I'm not feeling particularly compelled to thank them for it.
Stewey wanted me to thank y'all for your concern over these birds of his. We've discovered that they are chickadees. All Stewey wants to know is how something with such a cute little name could be so ridiculously vicious.
That's the Friday rant, kids! I hope that whatever you do this weekend is exactly what you want to do and that if somebody doesn't treat you swell, you'll think of me. And speak up.