Wednesday, February 29, 2012

don't be a jerk.

so wingman goes to this lego engineering class about 35 minutes down the road in another town. for an hour and a half every week. i don't get a lot of time alone, so i really cherish that hour and a half. i sit and read in the car, go for a walk around the neighborhood. once i fell asleep and it was the best nap i'd had in ages.

so, there is this one mother who really really wants to be my friend. i have known this for awhile. and she is friendly and nice and she reminds me of a lot of the old hippie women i knew when i was a hippie. the thing is, she lives in another town. and my kid doesn't care for her kid. and she is much older than i am. and i could go on and on but it just isn't clicking for me. though we chat at drop off and pick up, i really just want my hour and a half. to myself. alone.

well, yesterday i was just dropping wingman off and i see her practically RUNNING up the driveway to get to my car. i could have pretended not to see her. i could have just driven away. but i didn't. i waited. because she was practically running. and there's usually a reason people run towards other people. and when she got to my car she chatted me up and then the inevitable came 'do you maybe want to get a cup of coffee sometime?' she seemed really nervous asking, too.

i didn't. i don't. i just want my hour and a half. to myself. i never have more than one cup of coffee. and i already had coffee. i just want my walk. i don't see this going anywhere because lego is almost over and my kid doesn't care for her kid.

i could have said next week, i'm busy, etc.

but i didn't. because she was practically running up the driveway. because she seemed lonely. and because if someone asks you to coffee they like you. and if there's no good reason to say no it seems jerky to say no. because it's just coffee. and sometimes it's hard for people to ask even just for coffee. so i said 'well how about right now? would you like to have coffee and a walk?'

she was so excited. 'oh yes. let's meet by the library and go to the coffee shop on the corner.'

so we met by the library and went to the coffee shop on the corner. wherein she declared she'd already had too much coffee. but by the time she did i had been standing at the counter for awhile waiting for the barista, a woman a bit older than me, to finish with the slowest least engaged customer service i've seen in awhile and acknowledge we were there. while her co-worker held the counter up and looked on.

so there i am in line, committed to the idea of coffee at this point, and it's obvious the woman who asked me to coffee wasn't going to carry the conversation. it was getting awkward. and i resisted grabbing my inner nice person and saying SEE! this is why you say NO to coffee!

instead i turned to the woman who asked me for coffee but wasn't going to have coffee or initiate conversation and smiled at her and said, 'hey. i hear it's supposed to snow tomorrow. i'm pretty excited about that.'

well the woman who was standing next to us snorted and sarcastically said, 'yeah. right. hasn't happened yet this year.'

i looked at her and smiled and said, 'well, i choose to remain optimistic.'

she stopped fiddling in her enormous purse and looked at me and gave a sharp laugh and said, 'yeah. you do that.'

so then the barista finally turns around, no smile, no apology, and looked at us and said 'who's next.'

she saw us come in. i made eye contact with her and smiled. i stood there for a good 5 minutes while the woman who was next to us hadn't even come in yet. she knows who's next but this is easier. lazy.

i smiled at her and ordered and she slapped down the cup and didn't point to where the coffee could be had. in case you're wondering, it's around the corner. practically hidden.

so i walked and talked with the woman who asked me for coffee and it turns out she has MS. (which made me glad i didn't drive away from her practically running toward me) and it turns out we home school very much the same. that she's never seen california and her dream is to one day live in a big victorian house. that when her boy was little she took him to an episcopalian church just to make sure he knew there were religious options out there and the people were mean to her. that her ex husband is a drummer and that her apartment's too small and her current husband drinks too much coffee. and she spends too much on used children's books but she loves them so much. and that her 9 bookshelves are out of space. so she stacks them on the floor.

and when we were done with the walk she said grabbed my hand and looked at me and said, 'thank you for the walk. this was really nice.' and she was smiling. and i was too.

i've been jerky in my life. i've not always been pleasant. i have not always been engaged in my time in customer service. but i was younger then. and i learned as time when on what it meant to be kind over jerky. to be engaged over lazy in my dealings with others. because that's what aging does, it teaches you things. if you let it.

those jerky women in the coffee shop were about my same age. and they both could have been having a bad day. but i'm just going to be a jerk here and say i'll bet not. because when someone is smiling at you and being pleasant and you throw back with jerkiness i doubt it's one bad day. i'll bet it's a string of bad days. probably from having a jerky attitude. from not letting aging teach you things. perhaps from letting aging take over.

i've been doing research on dating in your 40s (and by 'doing research' i mean that i'm actually doing research. not dating in my 40s.) and a lot of the articles and advice seem to suggest that as a woman in your 40s whatever bitterness you have you should leave it at home and off your dating profile or risk turning people off.

and that seemed a little presumptive, that just because a woman makes it to her 40s she's got this wellspring of bitterness that must be contained if she's gonna be successful dating. but i can kinda see what they're saying. if you are in a little clutch of women in a small town coffee shop in the middle of an afternoon and the weather is fine outside and someone is smiling at you and being pleasant and you can't NOT be a jerk in that moment good luck with the wild world of dating.

or something like that.

this world can be very lonely for some people. this world can be a dearth of interesting people or interactions or just plain and simple human contact for some people. i am blessed to have a loving family and interesting friends and do work that i enjoy. not everyone is so lucky.

so, yeah, i don't *have* to say yes to coffee. or smile at a rude barista. or keep myself from telling ms. tall nutella latte with non-fat to shove her shitty attitude into her seriously ugly ass purse.

but i do. because sometimes it makes just that little bit of difference. and sometimes that's enough. worth it. for the times that it doesn't. more than worth it, even.



Xaka said...

truth! sometimes, i work so hard at not being a jerk and encounter so many jerks, i wonder if it's worth it to make this effort. wasn't it easier when i was the best asshole in all the land? but i'm not that woman, anymore. i'm not as angry as she was (and if i'm honest, i was never all that much of an asshole, anyway). and so i've learned to relish the appropriate moments to act like a jackass while remaining kind, nice, and compassionate throughout the main of my life. it's so freeing to be kind. i wonder how so many others have not learned that lesson, yet. peace!

Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

Wonderful. I try ( though I often fail) not to be a jerk; or as Wil Wheaton would say, "Don't be a dick".