One of my best friends is taking an enviable career break to travel the world with her boyfriend. They have both handed in their notices, sold their cars, and have been scrimping and saving for the guts of the past year to fund the extravagant trip of a lifetime.
I’ve been contemplating what to get her. It’s hard to buy a gift for a person who is going to be living out of their luggage for the foreseeable future. Jewelry is too valuable, clothes take up too much space, currency is too formal, books add on unnecessary kilos to the teetering backpack – the task was, in itself, a migraine.
I went into town after work, fully expecting the foray into the shops to be a frustrating and fruitless one. I was prepared for this outcome. What I hadn’t accounted for was the complete lack of manners I encountered along the way.
First, as I locked my car and went to buy a ticket from the machine behind me, I was railroaded into the car in the next spot by a cursing mother with a cigarette hanging from her upper lip, who was dragging her caterwauling, tangle-headed spawn by the elbow behind her. Winded, I was tempted to join in with her child’s keening. The woman looked me up and down, took a drag from her cigarette without touching it and suggested I watch where I’m going.
I was to watch where I was going.
In the vehicle parking lot.
While locking my vehicle.
Before going to pay to park my vehicle in the vehicle parking lot.
Her eyebrows were drawn on, giving her a perpetual look of derision. I sized her up and noted the sobbing child she could possibly swing as a weapon. I was thoroughly out-matched. So I decided against prodding further and went on my merry way.
I’d finally gotten my breath back by the time I got to Dunnes Stores. I was perusing the selection of fluffy slipper-socks – you know the ones. Every girl has at least a hundred pairs, in varying colours and patterns. Some even come with glitter, apparently. I picked up the glittery pair and made my way to the check-out.
I was waiting for some minutes. The lady before me had found some gel sandals for little girls on sale and, naturally, was purchasing all fifty pairs that had been on the stand. She had to go back and forth three times before she had all she needed. She perched the last one on the top of the pile ever-so-carefully, and the lone register attendant sighed heavily
I was waiting eight more minutes before the middle-aged woman with the pyjamas stepped in fro
nt of me in the queue.
I looked at the glittery pair of socks in one hand, my purse in the other hand. The middle-aged woman looked at the pair of socks in my hand, then her eyes moved to my purse in the other. Then she simply turned her face back towards the check-out. She had blatantly skipped me.
“Am I wearing my fucking invisibility cloak?” I asked no one in particular.
The middle-aged woman with the pyjamas didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed. I marched away from the counter, towards the grocery check-outs, figuring I’d have more luck there.
I eventually bought the socks. I also bought a bottle of Club orange, and was opening it at the entrance to Dunnes, where there is a rubbish bin. I put the seal in the bin and went to take a sip out of the bottle.
As I drank, a teenage boy engrossed in his smartphone smashed into my up-stretched arm, spilling sticky, fizzy liquid all down my only work shirt. I glared at him. He snorted, smirked and mumbled an insincere apology.
I cannot express in mere words the self-control it took not to drop trou’ and take a shit on that shopping centre floor.
When did the world get so full of rude people? I can understand a distraction, a mistake, an unawareness of ones surroundings; I cannot understand a complete disregard for them. I’ve decided all people are assholes and I want nothing more to do with them. The few good friends I have in my life are enough, and I’m lucky to have them.
Not so lucky that I would venture back into civilization to add to her going-away gift, mind. She’ll have to be content with the blue, glittering socks.
I am an asshole, after all.