Hey, Old Man. You home tonight? It’s about time we had a little talk. I know I’m a pretty evil fellow… killed people in the war and got drunk… and chewed up municipal property and the like. I know I got no call to ask for much… but even so, you’ve got to admit you ain’t dealt me no cards in a long time. It’s beginning to look like you got things fixed so I can’t never win out. Inside, outside, all of them… rules and regulations and bosses. You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in?
–Cool Hand Luke
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: This past week or two has been rough. Really, really rough. I haven’t hung out with anyone since April, and I have to tell you, it’s beginning to get to me. It wouldn’t be so annoying if there weren’t folks out there who could totally make the time to see me if they really wanted to, but since they don’t, they won’t. This is not a cry for attention; it is a simple fact. Earlier this week, my manager received a very angry email from customers complaining that they won’t be coming to our store anymore because one of the employees was very rude to them. Though they did not mention me by name, I’m pretty sure they were talking about me. Except I wasn’t rude. Unfriendly, maybe, but friendly is not my default setting, and we all have our bad days. Did it ever occur to these guys that I might be having a bad day? Apparently not. They want their coffee, and if it’s not served with a smile, that’s my fault.
I don’t feel too bad about this experience. A little bit, maybe, but not really. You might point out that yeah, actually, it kinda is my job to smile at customers no matter how badly my day is going, and perhaps you’re right. Thing is, I’m not responsible for what people read between the lines. In the nine months that I have worked at this establishment, I have never raised my voice with a customer. With the possible exception of not doing something for a customer because they approached me when I was on break, I have never refused service to anyone. And somehow, that’s not enough. Well, gee. Longtime readers of this blog may recall a story in which I moved to New York for school and was kicked out of my apartment not one hour after moving in (although the lady did say I could stay for a few days just to find another spot to crash) simply because I rubbed my new roommate the wrong way. By her own admission, I didn’t do anything, I just wasn’t warm and fuzzy enough for her. Maybe I could have tried harder to make small talk, but I doubt that would have helped. You can always try harder. Yet there is no guarantee that that will change anybody’s mind.
According to this email, this group of customers was so put off by my service that when they had a business meeting later, they spent half of it discussing me. Seriously? Unless the employee purposely spills boiling water on your shoes or spits in your drink, I have no idea what could piss somebody off that hard. I’m sorry, but that’s just fucking ridiculous. Besides, these guys had visited this establishment before. Most likely, I had gotten their coffee before, which means that they have encountered me on my better days. Which makes their complaining, to my ears, sound a little bit entitled. Some people just don’t like me. And there’s nothing I can do about that.
I’m thinking of taking a little while off of blogging. Periodically, this happens. I’ll get so fed up with my life and my circumstances that I write a misanthropic post about how I’m going away for a week or two or even just a couple days, and that’s that. This time, I think I’ll take a month off. I can’t make people notice me. When you spend enough time alone, you start having existential thoughts about the transience of life and the crushing inevitability of death, and that’s just not healthy. I should have time enough to do the shit that I mean to do. What’s more, I should even be able to have a little fun doing it. I don’t agree with what Owen Wilson said in Midnight in Paris: “Life is a little unsatisfying.” It’s only unsatisfying if your expectations are too high. And I just want to conquer the fucking world. Will somebody please tell me what’s so unrealistic about that?
It takes strength and courage to let go of the shit that you cannot change. What’s more, things rarely get better immediately after. There are some folks who seem to think that by your mid-twenties, you should have all of your shit figured out. Technically, nobody has all of their shit figured out, we’re all works in progress, etc. Even then, I think I can do better than this. It’s been three years since I got my bachelors degree, one since I got my masters. That’s not really that long. And since I’m holding out hope that most of my great accomplishments are still in front of me, I think that I am in a position to put my foot down and set some terms. I don’t seek isolation, but given the choice between that and being surrounded by people I don’t like, I know exactly what I’m going to choose. It has to be on my terms or not at all. Here’s something funny.