I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I miscalculated or maybe I forgot to pace myself, but I ran out of Christmas cheer a few days early. I think the main problem is that for the last five years, I’ve had a minimum of two weeks off for Christmas, and this year I got two days. So, for the better part of December, I’ve been preparing for my two week vacation without fully getting that that wasn’t happening this year. I began stockpiling books and movies. I thought about what I would buy when I had a few days off to go shopping. I’ve been spoiled, gone soft; I’m a bit of a candy ass around the holidays, and this year, that created a bit of a problem.
That’s how I ended up spending the Saturday before Christmas waiting in lines. I wasn’t the only one, of course, and as we watched some ladies explain all about the items they were returning and why, the older gentleman behind me grunted and said, “I don’t think anybody gets in a hurry anymore.” I smiled and tried to make a little small talk, but when he continued to complain, I politely began studying the contents of my purse. I wanted to tell him, “Look, it’s my fault I’m here this late in the holiday season. And if it’s my fault, then it’s probably your fault, too. The truly smart and/or impatient among us have already finished their shopping by now, and they wouldn’t come anywhere near this place.”
I knew that if I wore a holiday shirt, I could wear jeans to work on Monday, and suddenly the idea of wearing anything other than jeans seemed too much. I bought a shirt that said “Bah Hum Bug,” which seemed just right, and steeled myself to work the night shift. When I got ready to work in the computer lab that evening, I couldn’t help but notice a couple who had a poor concept of the term “inside voice.”
I had just shown up in the lab, when I heard them talking loudly. I tried to figure out what if there were things I needed to work on, but I found it difficult to ignore the woman at the computer saying, “BABY! HEY, BABY, CAN YOU COME HELP ME FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THIS THING MOVE DOWN HERE.” She didn’t seem mad, really. Maybe she just wanted to make sure he could hear her over the din of people, um, typing.
I thought I should say something, but I hesitated because I assumed the person working there before me had probably said something to them already to little effect. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I did think about that, but also, sometimes when things get under my skin, I find I have no middle gear. There’s either Me Hiding My Irritation By Being So Polite, People Don’t Think I’m Serious and there’s Me Saying Things That Will Get Me Fired. I hoped they’d either finish up what they were working on or that they’d go hoarse and be forced to whisper. Not my best plan.
“IT’S NOT WORKING.”
“WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT DOING IT LIKE I TOLD YOU TO. JUST HOLD THAT DOWN.”
“NOW IT’S ALL MESSED UP EVEN WORSE THAN BEFORE! WHERE’S THAT GIRL WHO WAS SITTING AT THE DESK?”
“SHE’S GONE, BUT THERE’S SOMEBODY ELSE SITTING THERE NOW. LET’S ASK HER.”
Now, I have a rule–a rule I made long before this couple came in. I will answer your questions. I will help you as best I as I can, and I will behave professionally. All I want is for you to ask for help. It’s literally just about the least you could do, and I’ve made plenty of exceptions when I notice someone is having trouble figuring something out. But I’ve also had patrons sigh dramatically and/or mutter about the computer in a voice loud enough for them to get my attention. For whatever reason, they do that instead of speaking directly to me, and I don’t care to be summoned in that way. Ask and you have my attention, but flailing dramatically so I will rush to your aid? Not my favorite technique.
I waited for them to ask, but I ended up clenching my teeth when, instead of walking about ten feet over to talk to me, I heard, “HEY, SWEETIE! CAN YOU COME OVER AND HELP US WITH THIS THING?” Could have been worse. They could have called me Babycakes.
I decided to kill two birds with one stone and went over to help, but also asked that they just lower their voices so they didn’t disturb other patrons. The man was on his cell phone by now (having a conversation that went something like this: “ARE YOU READY FOR CHRISTMAS? HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY SPANKINGS LATELY? NO, NOT LIKE THAT. I MEAN HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY WHOOPIN’S.”)
The woman whispered, “Oh! Oh, I’m so sorry. I told him to leave that stupid thing at home, but he’s kind of hard headed. I just need you to show me how to just do this one thing…”
I showed her quickly, and went back the desk. Then I heard, “BABY SHE SAID WE’RE BEING TOO LOUD.”
That turned out to be my last day of work for a few days, and I’m home now. I’ve eaten some of my mother’s homemade fudge. I’ve also eaten about two dozen of these little almond flavored cookies she makes that I love. They’re light and a little crunchy, and I kept going back for just two more only to discover that one of the cookies was broken. So, I’ll just have two and a half cookies because they’re kind of small and what the hell. Fifteen minutes later, still thinking about their nutty goodness, I find myself heading back into the kitchen.
Slowly, I’m starting to find some of the cheer creeping back in. I think after some pie this evening, I will officially be “merry,” maybe even “jolly” if I can get real coffee instead of instant. I’m looking forward to the next few days, but before I go to hang out with friends and family, I’d just like to take a moment to say, “HEY, BABY! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!”