I so very nearly had a good day.
After another morning of unrelentingly bleak news, armed with PMS and temporarily out of manure to haul, I decided to do something constructive. I would plant a tree!
Specifically I would plant a sourwood. Lovely trees, sourwoods. Sourwood honey is a beautiful thing, and I look forward to it every year. I have a perfectly good spot for a sourwood in the back, where we could definitely use some understory trees. So I hied myself to Niche Gardens, turned off the radio and put on the Pogues, and felt…oh, marginally better about life.
They were out of sourwood. One of the staff went off on a quest, found only unrooted cuttings, apologized, and then another staffer (actually I think the owner) emerged from the back triumphantly waving the last sourwood sapling in the place, and there was much rejoicing. I love the staff at Niche. Most of them are very nice–one was a trifle abrupt at first, but has warmed up to me considerably. We talked enthusiastically about spring being sprung enough for planting, particularly since we just had a massive ground-softening rain, making it a damn good time to get those saplings in.
I was in a good mood. Really, I was.
So on the way back home, I swung by Lowes to get a coupla more bags of compost (because the news won’t get any better, god knows) and some mulch for my newly acquired tree. Trees. (Okay, fine, possibly some buckeyes also came home with me. IT HAPPENS.)
An employee planted squarely in the little-old-lady archetype came up to me to ask if I needed anything, and I explained I needed dirt, and I swear to god, O readership, I expected her to say “Okay, let me get somebody.” They employ young men with shoulders like draft horses for just this reason, and make frequent use of them.
Instead she got a cart and started loading up bags of mulch herself.
Well. Okay then.
I found myself at this point ‘twixt the horns of a dilemma as they say. On the one hand, I once worked in a job where there was some mild lugging involved, and had at least one customer who always used to insist I “get a man” if I lifted anything over five pounds. (If memory does not fail me, she once told a co-worker this, adding that she would “strain her lady bits.”) This is obnoxious behavior. If I said I could do it, let me freakin’ do it already.* Also, while there may be a graceful way to say “Pardon, but you appear far too old and frail to move my dirt,” I have no notion of what it may be and would fully expect and deserve to be punched in the midriff were I utter such.
On t’other hand, this woman was a head shorter and at least twenty years older, and…well…no. (Let me add that there are plenty of people in that category who could whup my ass six ways from Tuesday, but she did not look to be one of them.)
Fortunately I was getting a fair amount, so compromise was at hand. I grabbed another cart and began loading the other (substantially heavier) half of my order on it, so then we both had a cart, we were both lugging, and I felt we had achieved an equitable arrangement between courtesy and gallantry.
Now, this would not be significant in any way—we all make such social negotiations a dozen times a day—but for what happened next.
I proceeded to check-out, pulled the car around, and we began loading it up. She took the side door and began loading through there, I took the back hatch and unloaded my cart in that way. I finished first, took my cart back, and headed back to the car, while she finished maneuvering the last bag ‘o mulch in the side.
At this moment, just after she’d finished and the words “Thank you so much for your help,” had left my mouth, a car pulled up, and a middle-aged man leaned out and said “You should be ashamed, a young thing standing around while she does that! There’s something wrong with this picture! You should be ashamed!”
And drove off, while I stood flabbergasted, in a cloud of exhaust and really clever rebuttals that I would think of Any Minute Now.
Said little old lady had already proved to be fairly deaf and was already moving the cart back inside, so I don’t know what she thought of the matter or if she even noticed.
Sigh. I never think of anything clever on the spot. I didn’t even think to flip him off. I am really no good in the face of unexpected hostility—I can’t even remember to honk my horn when cut off in traffic.
So, while I’m sure he doesn’t read this blog, let me just say for the record—screw you, nameless motorist, you had no damn idea what was going on. I hope your life turns into a Nick Cave song.
Tomorrow I plant my tree anyway.
*Tangentially, one of the great hang-ups to emerge from my divorce and the subsequent half-dozen moves is a deep and burning desire to be able to move every essential thing I own by myself if needed. The day I upgraded to a flat-screen monitor was a great triumph. This has relaxed somewhat since moving in with Kevin, but if I had to move out, the only thing I’d need help shifting would be the couch and the giant metal chicken. It still comes up when arranging con-kits, as I flatly refuse to countenance any system which I myself cannot lift.
There are worse neuroses to have, I suppose…