Friday, September 26, 2008

Training myself not to be like others

Scene I, yesterday morning

I dragged my suitcase out of my hotel room, pulled it on to the elevator, and went downstairs. I inquired about the shuttle bus to the train station and airport, boarded the airport/transit center shuttle bus and slunk in to the bench seat behind the driver. The door reopened as a 60-year old woman with white hair stepped into the van. She was talking into her cell phone, her voice filled with exasperation. She had a polite face and her hair was pretty, pulled back from her face in a plain short haircut.

The van driver stashed the woman’s bag in the back of the van, and then he stepped up into the driver’s seat. The woman continued to talk on her mobile phone, asking if there were any other options, telling the person on the other end of the line that thirty minutes would not be enough. And then finally hanging up.

She smiled at me and raised her eyebrows. She said “My flight was cancelled."

“I’m sorry,” I replied.

“Well, I was able to get on another flight. But they had wanted to put me a on a flight that only had a 30-minute layover and I wouldn’t have made that flight.“ She shook her head and looked into her purse. ”You’ve got to be careful because they always try to pull that kind of stuff. “

I said, "I’m glad to hear it worked out," with a concluding clip to my voice. I returned to looking at emails on my phone.

A couple of minutes later, our shuttle van came to the end of a long line of traffic.

“Why is there so much traffic?” the woman asked the driver. But before waiting for an answer, she turned to me to say,” What nerve they have calling that an 'airport hotel.' It was the biggest dump I’ve ever stayed in. Don’t you think so?” She waited for my reply.

I wanted to make sure the driver was on my side and would take me to the transit station. I told her, "My room was actually pretty nice.” I avoided eye contact with her again.

I managed to avoid conversation after that until after she was dropped off . As she got out of the van, I wished her luck with her flights.

As soon as the van pulled away, the driver said to me, “People like that should stay at the goddamed airport if they want an airport hotel.”

My reply: “Yes, she was a mess.”

I gave the driver a tip and exited the van at the MBTA Blue Line Airport Station. The driver was an asswipe, but I wanted to appear the better of the two passengers. The self-searching began.

Scene II, two months ago

Brad and I are at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. We are looking at the baskets and crates of peaches and nectarines. It’s August and each of the organic fruit growers has a staff of shorts-wearing 4-H Club young men and women slicing pieces of fruit with grimy army knives and offering their bounty for our salivating tongues to test.

After a day of sampling white peaches and nectarines, trying apriums and plumcots, plums and apricots, and golden yellow nectarines and peaches, my hand reaches out for a slice of a white peach, handed to me by a worn out looking Asian woman. I take a bite and I turn around to look at Brad, and while I turn I say, “It’s not good.”

Brad tells me I said it too loud. I reply that it’s just her fruit, not her.

Scene III, one year ago

“Ugh, everyone who works here is just so incompetent. “ I said that. In IKEA once.

Scene IV, a few weeks ago

“No,” I said to the cashier. “It should be $1.99. That’s the price that’s on the shelf. I’ll go back and get the price tag from the shelf. “ I leave my purchases on the counter , holding up the line and return with the correct tag from the shelf. The cashier looks at it and says, “The price expired last week.”

I explain to the cashier that the price is what is hanging on the shelf and that’s the price I’m going to pay. I will pay $1.99, not $4.69. The cashier asks another cashier how to refund my money and they spend a couple of minutes at the register figuring out how to cancel the price while the line gets longer. The cashier hands me my change, and says that the shelf tag was there because somebody forgot to take it off --scorn for making her return my money. I explained it wasn’t my fault if the people stocking the shelves aren’t so bright.

As she handed me the cash, I noted a sign posted on the cash register. And asked about it: “What about your policy on this sign to provide me with a $5.00 gift certificate if the price rings up wrong?”

“That doesn’t apply in this situation,” she replied.

“It looks like it should. Will you please get your manager?" I asked .

She called the manager, who arrived a couple of minutes later. The line for the cashier behind me was really long by now.

When the manager appeared, the cashier explained to him the wrong price tags and that someone named Jesus needed to take off the tags and that I wanted to take advantage of their low price guarantee. She rolled her eyes.

The manager told her what to press on the cash register and handed me a $10.00 bill, apologized and said to have a nice day.

Scene V, last night

The setting: A small wine bar in Boston, called Piattini on Newberry Street.

Robin and I agree to order six small dishes to share and a flight of wine each. Our waitress is lovely, smiling, and very confident about the taste and the quality of the food. We eat tasty antipasti and a shrimp salad, and are served a most incredible veal and sage ravioli in a sweet cider glaze: One of the yummiest things I’d eaten in a long time. We also had pumpkin ravioli.

We also ordered polenta with sausage and red peppers. It sounded good, and Robin and I were easily in agreement to make this one of our tapas. It was served and I took a bite. It was, in fact, a truly horrible dish that tasted like what I would envision the flavor of boiled cartilage to be.

The sparkling waitress reappeared to make sure everything was completely delicious. And I said it was.

I am learning.

A great evening, nice company, good wine, and perfect food.

1 comment:

rump shaker said...

as a fellow southerner,raised to be pleasing and polite, I LOVE THIS BLOG!especially brad's response to the bad fruit-he is turning into his mother as he ages....

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