I see that All-Star results will be announced later this morning at the same time my shift starts. Either I will hear about it at work or will be completely unaware until my shift is over. I usually don’t pay attention to my phone unless I’m on a break, and even then keeping in touch with the world beyond my store — which lately has taken on the strange feeling of solace — isn’t vital. Usually when I get out of work there are a couple of text messages, missed calls and the occasional voicemail waiting. Whatever it is, I can deal with it later.
Your next road trip is coming up and you’re going to be in my hometown. They’ve just endured some pretty wild thunderstorms. I grew up with all of that. I’m used to darkened skies and not knowing whether or not the earth-quaking rumble in the near distance is really bad thunder or an actually approaching tornado. Once a tornado did touch down a few blocks from where I grew up. It’s weird how specific that particular weather phenomenon can be, like that time on Star Trek: The Next Generation when this human chick found out that her parents were really part of the immortal godlike Q Continuum and the continuum had decided to kill them for their human ways by unleashing a tornado on their house in Kansas… I wonder if your mind went foggy at the words “that time on Star Trek.”
As anyone who has ever worked retail or customer service will tell you, that line of work is a great environment from which to observe human nature. Yesterday, I had a customer who was otherwise friendly when she came up to my register with her book. When I rang up her book and gave her the total, her eyes bugged out and she said, “Wait — what?!” She gave me a fleeting look that reminded me of those horror movies where the filmmaker decides that in order to show the audience that the human character on screen is actually a menace, that character’s face will flash briefly with the face of a demon (accompanied by the obligatory surround-sound effects of growling, shrieking and a thumping score). I watched with a scientist’s dispassion as the customer appeared ready to rip out my throat while she snatched up the book and then her demeanor instantly deflated when she saw that the price I had rung up was correct and her assumption was not.
“Oh sorry, I thought it said something else,” she said to me with nascent humility, in a transformation that could also harken back to said example horror movie.
It is funny to wonder about how many conflicts and wars, how many bridges burned and lives lost can be attributed to assumptions and generalizations, to the words and notion of “I thought.”
I guess a part of me just stood there watching her because I was confident that the data on the register was right. I mean, it had to be, right? Usually the register has accurate information, and if the customer had gone on to insist otherwise, of course I would’ve pulled one of my colleagues to double-check.
But I was more interested in seeing it all unfold and adapting accordingly. I think this is my approach to life overall. I would hope that I’m not exactly a wallflower or someone who sits on things until it’s too late to do anything about it. Rather, perhaps I take after the land, which sits around existing and doing whatever it does to support itself and the people to which it comes in contact, while somehow being able to endure unexpected thunderstorms and those weirdly specific tornados.