So I went to Tar-shjay yesterday, to get some various odds and ends, including cotton balls and goat cheese spinach pizzas. As I was getting ready to check out, lines were ridiculously backed up. Those of us who were in line were blocking the main aisle of the store, so we were backing up into clothing racks in order to let people pass by. But soon red-shirted employees were on their walkie-talkies and a couple more lines opened up. Those of us waiting with our carts reallocated ourselves appropriately and the lines started moving forward.
BUT THEN, one young man took this opportunity to step into line in front of me AND the guy I was standing behind-- a dad who was there with his four year old son.
The little boy was holding a mermaid Barbie doll and looked totally thrilled with it. I was wondering whether his dad was actively thwarting society's tendency to emphasize gender differences in children, or if he was just cool with his son wanting a Barbie, or if it was a gift for someone else.
Anyway, this guy in a plaid shirt jumps in line in front of both of us, and I glanced at the dad to see if he would say something, but he just sighed. About the guy in plaid? Or his son's obvious excitement about the mermaid doll? I am not sure.
Plaid Shirt's girlfriend was still out in the main aisle, unable to slide into line next to him because she was pushing their cart full of stuff (lots of stuff, not just like a few items). She seemed uncertain about butting in line in front of dad/son and me, so she was really wishy-washy about it, and they were doing that silent communication thing couples do where they barely move their lips and raise their eyebrows at each other while using the tilt of their heads to gesture. He was silently pantomiming that she should get into line next to him and she was indicating her uncertainty with shrugs in the direction of me and the father/son duo. I observed this all, openly staring at them, waiting to see if she'd actually do it, and seething at the nerve of this kid.
Finally, Plaid Shirt reached out and grabbed her cart and pulled it over in front of us. He had officially BUTTED IN LINE.
At which point I smiled politely and said, very calmly, nodding as though I were answering a question he had asked me, "We were standing in line here. Both of us." I gestured toward the dad/son/mermaid.
Plaid Shirt glared at me defiantly from behind his hipster glasses (which I am not criticizing, I happen to love hipster glasses), and said, "Yeah, I have been standing here too. In this line. The whole time. Didn't you see me standing here?"
Now, my friends, this was TOTAL bullshit because I watched Plaid Shirt and Girlfriend push their cart up and figure out what line to get into after more registers had opened and we were all moving forward toward the checkout. Also he said this looking wild and defiant, just like my students do when they lie to me about why their paper isn't finished and they're daring me to call them out on it.
But what was I going to say? "Excuse me, little boy with the mermaid doll, could you please hold my earrings while I take this guy DOWN?"
I was not going to get into an "Un-uh!" "Uh-huh!" conversation with this dude. I knew it was time to maintain my dignity and let it go. So I said, in a very calm and polite voice (my most professorial tone), "Oh. Well, if you think that's true, then I'm sorry."
I said "I'm sorry" as though I were apologizing for my error, not as though I was sorry that he was mistaken, but I guess it was somewhat open to interpretation, since I might have emphasized "you think," but I swear I kept my tone very pleasant.
But it turns out the guy could lie to my face, but he didn't have the balls to stand in line in front of me after he did it. Instead, he said, "No, it's fine!" in a super irritated tone. Then turned to his girlfriend and snapped, "Where do you want to go?" and made her choose another line.
Huzzah! Victory was mine!
David would say that I have no patience. He thinks that when I have to wait in check out lines, I feel the same fight or flight response in me that my dad feels when he has to sit in traffic. He might even suggest I picked a fight with Plaid Shirt just to see if I could get through the line faster.
But then I would remind David of the time that we were standing in line to kiss the statue of St. Peter's feet at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and somehow three little old Italian ladies butted in the queue and separated David and me and he was so pissed he tried to get confrontational with them and I was MORTIFIED because we were in a CHURCH and they were OLD LADIES and they didn't speak ENGLISH and in my experience, Europeans simply do not respect the order of queues the way Americans do. In that instance, I shushed David and politely let the old ladies kiss St. Peter's feet before I did. David maintained his righteous indignation since the line was really super long and we'd been waiting forever before these ladies sidled up and invited themselves in alongside us, but I just don't think you should fight with old ladies in churches. As a general rule.
Hipsters wearing plaid shirts in Target? Totally fair game.
I mean, if this guy had a cart full of medical supplies and someone was bleeding in the parking lot, I totally would have let it slide. But that was most decidedly not the case. I could have stood there and said nothing and waiting an extra five minutes and it would have been no big deal, right? But it's the principle of the thing!
There is so little justice in this world. Therefore, I will step up and fight for it at appropriate times, such as in the Target check-out line!
Take that, Plaid Shirt.