Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4

I don't have enough of a single topic for a single blog post; rather several random, non-cohesive thoughts. Here goes:

Now that it's December, the three TVs in the lobby of my office building are playing Christmas movies and the Yule log. I love it. 

This morning I put on a new striped sweater that I hadn't worn before. Linda assured me it looked good.

"I don't look too much like Freddy Krueger?"

"No, he had his own set of issues."

"Well, so do I. Which is why I want to check I don't look like him."

"No, you don't have scissor hands."

Also, no weird burny scar face or dapper hat.

I was at the grocery store this morning before work and saw some garlic that wants to be something else when it grows up:

Speaking of the grocery store, I do stop there frequently on my way to work. It's a good time to go if I'm getting non-perishables or stuff for work. They usually have one check stand open, and then someone standing at the "self check out" area to help.Which - if you need help doing "self check out," then it's not "self," right? Anyway, I caved on doing it once, but hate it because it's inconvenient for me and involves too much thinking - usually I'm buying fruits and veggies, so it's not as simple as just scanning a barcode; it involves looking up the right item manually, and I just don't want to. So there was one checkstand with a light on, indicating it was open. I headed there, and got sidelined by a "helpful" employee:

"Good morning, would you like to go to self check out?"

"Um, no thank you. I don't like it. Can't I just go here?" indicating the one check out lane with the lit light signifying its openness. She wasn't happy with me, because it wasn't manned and she had to call for "John" to come take his post.Whatever, Ralphs lady. I'm paying you for groceries - I shouldn't have to do your job for you too. 

But the sparkly European trees I saw on the way out made me laugh: 

 Clearly there is more sparkly glitter in European soil than American.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Parable of the Pico de Gallo Sauce

It’s December! (Oh, that reminds me, I need to change my calendar pages. I’m always two or three days behind on that.) This means different things for different people, but in my world, it’s the start of the holiday season. We all know it’s a stressful time etcetera and so forth, henceforth and forever, and I get that. One of the stress causers, for me at least, is feeling a genuine holiday spirit. I consider myself fairly kind and generous during the balance of the year, so feeling the pressure of peace on earth good will towards men in December feels, well, like more pressure.

This morning I hit a fast food drive through on my way to work. The person taking the order sounded like she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I even said to the non-responsive speaker, after placing my order, “Wow, Miss Sunshiney-Pants. Someone’s having a bad day,” and then immediately felt guilty for thinking that because that’s how I roll. Instead, I imagined what the mystery-voice person would look like. Was she crying? Upset? Did she not get a lot of sleep? Was she actually happy but didn’t have a matching voice?

When I got to the window the headsetted person smiled at me, but no teeth were showing. She took my card for payment and I wondered if I could say something that would get a genuine smile from her.

Then I remembered this blog post from someone I know who works in fast food (and deals with cranky people all the time, thankyouverymuch), and thought, “That's it! I’ll pay for the person behind me!”

Only, there was no one behind me.

Then the cashier appeared with my food order and asked if I wanted any sauce or anything. I said, “Do you have any pico de gallo?” hopefully, with a big smile.

She said, “Well, yes, but, I mean it’s, well, never mind. I’ll get you some.” She disappeared again, and then guess what?

A car appeared behind me. She handed me my bag, presumably complete with pico de gallo, and I handed her my card again. “I’d like to pay for the person behind me.”

And guess what else? A genuine smile appeared. She said, “He ordered a steak and egg burrito,” and when I allowed as that was fine, she ran the card and handed it back to me.

And that was it. Melissa was right – I felt warm and fuzzy inside. I considered pausing to see what the man’s reaction was, but wanted the joy of remaining anonymous, so noted only that it was a red Lexus before taking the turn to finish driving to work.

And then traffic wasn’t great. And there was a dumb garbage truck mucking up the works. And I got stuck behind someone else, and then stuck at a red light. And then I noticed that out of all the drab neutral-colored cars, a red Lexus appeared behind me, then got in the lane next to me. There was no car in front of him so he could have easily pulled all the way up to the crosswalk lines, but he paused next to me and mouthed through the window, “Was that you?”

I laughed, because what else are you going to do? We both rolled down our windows, and I said, “I just wanted to say have a good day. Have a great day!”

He shook his head and said, “Wow. Thanks so much, that was just so awesome.” He started to pull up to the crosswalk lines and said, window still open, “No one’s ever done that for me before. Wow.”

And that felt good. Maybe he’ll pass it along to someone else (there was no other cars behind him in the drive-through; I checked), or be a little nicer to someone today because someone was nice to him. I’m certain he could have afforded a steak and egg burrito ($3.20 before tax) on his own, if appearances (red Lexus and all) are anything to go on (there I go being all judge-y again.) But it was still nice to do something nice.

And then it looked like we were both headed to the same parking garage, so I took the long way to work, because enough is enough already. Heh.

And P.S.  I got an extra huge helping of pico de gallo!

So don’t stress this holiday season if you can’t get the house decorated the way you think it’s supposed to look, or the tree up on time, or the dog swallows the Baby Jesus, or you don’t the money you think you’re supposed to have to give everyone the merry Christmas you’d like them to have. Just..stop.

Breathe, enjoy. Rinse and repeat.

Then go get a burrito, ask for pico de gallo, and pay for the guy behind you. Let me know what happens.

P.P.S. I don't share this with you because I like being all braggy-pants and "LookWhatIDid? Aren'tIAwesome?" because I don't like it when people do that. This isn't about bragging. It's about pico de gallo. Mostly.