I Think My Karma is Broken

I was having one of those unusually beautiful days where the kid got up when he was supposed to, I managed to have a nice hot shower with no interruptions, and the weather was unusually warm for January.  There was a little pep in my step and I went forth into the wilds of humankind in good spirits and gratitude.  Seriously.  I was like a 43 year old Pollyanna.  If I could have managed a jump and heel click I would have done it (but let’s face it, even attempting something like that would leave me with a broken arm and a crater in the sidewalk).

My son and I somehow managed to get him to school at a decent time where he still had a good half hour of playing with his friends before the bell rang—which is seriously unusual for us.  Since he goes to a before and after school program during an era of heightened security, we aren’t allowed in the building without calling the daycare and having them send someone down to unlock the door and let us in.  While logically I understand the need for such precautions, it pretty much kills my stride when I have to deal with what I (lovingly) think of as the “door dance.”  Things go to shit pretty quickly when I a) forget my phone, b) have no juice left in my phone, c) have to dig my phone out of the bottom of my pit of a purse, or d) leave my phone in my purse because I see a mom coming out the door who will definitely help us out by holding it open (because she sees us rushing) and then doesn’t. (Insert extremely nasty combination of words here.)

But this day was beautiful and we had no issues getting into the building.  My phone was capable of making first contact with the daycare, the kid was ready to go and by the time we got to the door there was someone there holding it open—with a bright smile, I might add.  I wished my son a fantastical day and on my way back out the door I saw a mom living my (every other day of the year) life trying to get her daughter to grab her crap out of the back seat and get moving!  I didn’t think twice about it, I just decided I would wait and hold the door open until they got there.  The mom hesitated for a second and then rushed up the sidewalk to me, leaving her daughter to fend for herself in the wilds of their Subaru.

As she got closer to me, she asked if I had been holding the door just for her.  I shrugged and told her that I was and she gave me the biggest smile I had seen for quite a while.  She told me that it was the nicest thing anyone had done for her in a long time.  I bid her a good day and went back to my car wishing I was living in the show Glee and that I could just burst into song.  I was walking on sunshine and feeling as good as I ever thought I could so early on a Tuesday morning.

Work was also strangely calm and quiet and the output of productivity I was producing was quite satisfying (not to mention unusual).  Having finished the desk work I had, I decided to venture back out into the world to go shopping for supplies that needed replenishing at the library.  Traffic was light and the store was busy but for once there were enough lanes open to check me out so quickly that I never even got a chance to catch up with my homies on facebook while I waited.  It was officially getting kind of getting scary.  Life was too easy and I hadn’t even felt the need to flip anyone off yet.

I should have known. Because I found myself in an area of the city that had lots of choices to choose from by way of human sustenance I decided to splurge and pick up some chips and guacamole from Qdoba.  Jump in, jump out—get back to work in plenty of time…It was the perfect plan.  But then…

Does anyone else find it seriously (and I mean seriously) annoying when they find themselves in a situation that you haven’t prepared for, or perhaps, can’t prepare for?  Let me be a little more detailed in what I’m trying to say here.  Have you ever been to the mall food court and wanted to grab a quick soda from a quick service establishment and there’s a long line ahead of you?  You see that Subway has a pretty good deal on soda (don’t forget the free refills) and you want one, but you feel like you shouldn’t have to stand in line.  I mean, you already know that the soda is at the cash register.  You know you don’t want anything else, but…do you go straight to the register or do you stand in line?  What should you do?  You don’t want to look like a monster bitch by cutting in front of everyone, but it makes no sense to wait for everyone else to get their food. It’s a serious dilemma for anyone raging for their caffeine fix.

Or you’re at a clothing store and you want to find out where the nearest restroom is but the only employee around to ask is at the customer service desk with a person that wants to return five items and has no receipt.  It seems rude to break in and ask the question, but you don’t have the time to wait for the transaction to be over.  These are the types of scenarios I’m talking about.  They exist and we live them occasionally, but they kind of throw us for a loop (I say us as in me because I know you’re totally on my side in this scenario, right?).

So this is where I found myself on a bright, beautiful day at Qdoba.  I knew the chips and guacamole were at the front of the line (that was almost out the door) and that I felt could just walk up and get my small order and get out.  Or so I thought.  I walked to the front of the line (I swear there wasn’t a customer there (she was still a ways back deciding on whether or not to add queso to her burrito) when the employee suddenly turned and walked away.  I was a little perturbed, but figured that she hadn’t seen me and that she would be back in a quick second.  She didn’t, but I think you already knew that was going to happen.

Standing around looking like an ass, the next customer arrived with her perfected burrito and I knew my chance had passed.  There still wasn’t anyone there to help either of us, but I knew I had to defer to the person who already had her stuff.  So, I went back into the line.  By this time three new people had added themselves to my own personal hell parade and I was getting a little miffed. I glanced to the front of the line and saw that the employee had returned and was taking care of business.  But now what should I do?  I already tried to go in for the guac, but was denied, and suddenly I was standing in this long line (for which I do not have a lot of time) to get through.  Should I leave?  But nothing will taste as good as what I already had built up in my brain as the “most awesome lunch of all time!”

I started shifting from side to side and glared at the lady running the cash register so hard that I could practically see what she was wearing under her clothes.  It was hard to not be angry at her for denying me my chance to get food, but I (with great strength, I might add) backed down and tried to work my way through the problem.  And it was a problem because I just realized that the line wasn’t moving anywhere and that there was a young man buying enough burritos to feed the Denver Broncos.  I thought, “screw this” and marched my way back to the cash register.  Would you believe that home girl totally dissed me again?  At this point I knew that she didn’t want to help me and that if I wanted my lunch I was going to have to go through the line.

Muttering extremely unladylike things under my breath I made my way back to the line.  No one else had added themselves to my misery (which was really nice) but the line was still atrocious.  You’re thinking to yourself, “Let it go, Rene. Get over it!  Go and get some nachos at 7-11!”  I know, right?! I was thinking that too! But I was dedicated to my cause.  Guacamole or bust!  Again I started shifting from left to right on my feet and sending out bursts of air from my nostrils like a Spanish bull. It was a bad enough situation for me when things started getting a little bit worse.

Even though I was in the throes of a major meltdown, I thought I was keeping it pretty well concealed (snorting air notwithstanding).  Ha!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the woman in front of me was staring at me with a fairly hostile look on her face.  Of course I had no intention of looking back at her (I’m a wimp—have I ever told you that?) and did my utmost best to ignore her.  But I knew that she had been watching me and that she had an opinion on the matter—and probably not in my favor.  She finally looked away when the line started to move (which is good, because I was getting really tired of pretending to re-read the choices to add to my burrito) and I settled in for the wait.

But not really though.  I was really agitated that I just wanted one simple thing and that I was looking at a major chunk of time to get it (like, I was getting ready to celebrate another birthday) and I thought I would try one last time.  The thing is, though, that at least five people had gotten in line behind me and I just couldn’t give up my spot.  If I was going to make it to the mother land I was going to have to go behind the people in line in front of me and scoot my way to the register.  I was feeling kind of greasy about it, but would it technically be breaking any rules?  I didn’t need any of that other stuff!  I was going to go for it.  It would have worked too (I am absolutely convinced of it) except for irritated lady in front of me.

I guess I am just too naïve (or just really stupid) but I thought that if I just explained my situation that she would let me go past her.  She had nothing to lose by letting me go ahead—the line wasn’t going to be any longer (I mean, she hadn’t even ordered yet) so I looked at her and asked, “Can I just scoot past you really quick? I don’t need to order a burrito, I just need to get some chips and guacamole.” She looked right at me and said, “Sorry. I only get 30 minutes.”  Shut down.  Completely and utterly. I think I kind of stood there with an “are you freaking kidding me” look on my face, but what could I do? I wasn’t going to engage in a smack down for three dollars’ worth of avocado, so I stood there and watched while she contemplated red or green salsa, sour cream or no sour cream, no cheese or extra cheese…

It isn’t hard to say that I felt put in my place and I wasn’t completely sure that I didn’t deserve it.  Was I really trying to break the rules?  If I was, was it really all that big of a rule to break? I was definitely pissed off and wanted to kick her in the knee, but I was left in an impotent rage over such a miniscule thing.  After what felt like a hundred years I was able to get my chips and guacamole.  It was a forty second transaction, tops.  The cash register lady was all smiles and as sweet as all get out and I hated her to the very depths of my soul. I trudged back to the car and threw my (utterly necessary for life) chips in the back seat.  Qdoba better not think I’m going back THERE any time soon (or at least until next week). Oh, and just so you know—I was only in the restaurant for about ten minutes.  Obviously, hunger has no clock.

As I drove back to work, my afternoon in shreds, I couldn’t find my happy place. I flipped through every radio channel and cd choice before realizing that what I needed to be surrounded by was silence. I thought of how my day had started and how everything had been coming up roses and that perhaps I had just been due to get taken down a peg or two. I thought about the lady at the school who was so nice and thankful for someone helping her out and I began to think that maybe my karma was broken.

Finally making it to work, and feeling much calmer about the whole situation (which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I was seconds away from decimating my bag of chips and guacamole) I made my way through the rest of the day.  And after eating every last shred of the biggest “not as good as I had been expecting and therefore not worth the drama I put myself through” lunch, I somehow found the emotional maturity to stop verbally assaulting the “lunch lady” over and over in my brain (but not before getting in a couple of good zingers). Maybe the Qdoba worker slipped me some downers.  Either way I was a much calmer person.  So I guess it would be true to say that my love for salty Mexican snacks healed me—but not before it kicked my ass.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t go to places that make you stand in line for guacamole. Lines suck. Especially stay away from lines where you have to wait for someone explain what they want in, on, or underneath their food. (Oh, and always have a receipt with your returns—it just makes life better for everyone.)

© DRB 2016

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