Picked this prime slice of summertime sleaze at the local Goodwill the other day. It was a reward to myself for enduring the outermost circle of Thrift Store Hell. Not only did we spend half an hour marooned in the checkout aisle behind a Sweatpant Collector (three carts heaping full), but I was also forced-- FORCED, I say!-- to use less-than-gentlemanly language in front of my daughter. Tragedy! So unnecessary, and yet so unavoidable. Allow me to dish the goods:
I could see her coming from across the store: snorting, spitting, wheezing with rage. Her thinning hairdo-- if you could call it that-- was dyed the same garish color as the letters on her t-shirt (which boasted an endorsement for some sort of evangelical hootenanny), and her false teeth were piss-stained with nicotine. As her shopping cart zigged in a zag-like pattern, I found myself studying her movements, pondering her motivations. What could be making her so angry? She stooped down to collect a pile of stuffed animals and hurled them into a motheaten recliner. How could anyone be so miserable in a place so filled with JOY?
I mean, true, there were masked children running rampant through the aisles, and true, there was nary an employee in sight-- I assume they were sharing reefers over a pile of scavenged treasure in the donation room-- but how was that any different than any other day at Goodwill? The mountains of debris, the absentee approach to customer service-- this is the kind of atmosphere I sign up for when I head down to the local thrift. Am I alone in thinking this is part of the appeal?
I was checking shirt sizes with my daughter in the middle of the store when her cart screeched to a halt behind us.
"Excuse me," she snarled-- not at me, mind you, but at my 8-year-old child. "I'd like to get through."
"Well okay, then!" I dramatically waved my arm to showcase the expanse of aisle beside us. There was more than enough room to go around-- you could have moved a dining set through there without much effort.
"I already done picked up your mess for you!" she barked nonsensically, as if she really believed that we had savaged the entire store. I tried to catch her eye, but her glare was firmly locked on my daughter.
Now, in my head, there exists a litany of erudite responses for just such an event. I've spent hours, even days concocting witty remarks and cataloging them for quick retrieval in the heat of battle. This could have been such a battle. Alas, my tongue is always quicker to the draw.
"Hey lady," I chirped. "GO FUCK YOURSELF."
I won't lie-- it felt pretty good. There was no way to contain my smile. This person, in her many guises-- bible thumper, shitty driver, prohibitionist, values voter-- has been ruining my day for the past few decades. Isn't it time I had the chance to ruin hers?
My daughter was smiling, too, although she obligingly covered her ears in the traditional "bad word" pose. Our opponent lurched away, aghast, sputtering with disbelief. I expecting her to run shrieking to the management, but the confrontation had deflated her. She spent the rest of her time moping around the store, no longer glaring or throwing things, just going about her business with dulled, automatic precision.