Saturday, February 11, 2012

Losing My Temper

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

The Incredible Hulk

I'm discovering that I'm really bad at losing my temper.

I'm good at planning to lose my temper.  I can think up some genius lines while I seethe under the frustration of dealing with some other inconsiderate person's behavior. I'll happily zing these lines to other non-infuriating people (preferably those not acquainted with the infuriator) after the fact so that they can appreciate my wit and skill. But as for just opening my mouth and letting some jerkwad have it right then and there . . . can't do it. Lose my nerve every time.

I went to pick up some groceries today. It's Saturday, and so the place was pretty crowded. I only needed flour and sugar and a lightbulb (and ended up with some chocolate and a cherry soda as well, because eh, that's life), so I took up a position in the "Fifteen Items or Less"* lane and, since I'd left my Kindle in the car, proceeded to entertain myself by reading the labels on things.

There was an older gentleman behind me in line. I say gentlemen because I am a polite person, not because he is.

After we all had been waiting for a couple of minutes, he announced to his companion, "People in this line can't count."

In his defense, there were some folks in line ahead of us who had carts pushing the upper limit of fifteen items. This was very thoughtless and/or inconsiderate of them.

"Can't they count?" he demanded, after his companion (and the universe in general) failed to care about what he'd just said. "There're like three people in this line who can't count!"

I discovered a tasty-looking recipe for twice baked potatoes on the side of the container of spreadable flavored cheese I was going to buy.

"They should be kicking these people out of line," said the irate voice behind me.

I was, at this point, tempted to turn around and explain the problem with this. Yes, the cashier would be well within her rights to ask an exceeding-fifteen-items customer to go to another line. But then that customer would get upset with her, instead of waiting-in-line guy. It's Saturday. The store's busy. Someone's going to snap at this girl no matter what she does. If she just checks out and rings up Mrs. Seventeen Items, then the line keeps moving, which it won't if she provokes a fight by ordering the customer elsewhere. It's a Greater-Good-of-Society thing.

"Why don't they read the sign? It says fifteen items! This is ridiculous!"

The customer currently checking out seemed to be having some problem in processing payment. A manager had been called over to resolve the issue, whatever it was. What an unfortunate thing to have happen when the store is so busy!

"The nerve of some people!"

That did it. I picked up my basket of groceries and whipped around, feeling that flush of rage and heat and trembling that comes with an outburst of genuine anger, ready to tell this fellow member of the human race where he could stick all fifteen or fewer of his items.

What actually came out of my mouth was "Sir, I yield you my place."

All my other prepared lines, about how I'd much rather wait for half an hour to buy my groceries than listen to him for one more minute, fizzled and died. I moved over to the end of the neighboring line and pretended that someone had sent me a text message, just so I didn't have to make eye contact.

I was out the door with my grocery bags in under five minutes, while he was still stuck in the stalled less-than-or-equal-to-15 rut. Karma's a bi. . .t of a smartalec, huh?

So I did get to be smug, but I once again lost a magnificent opportunity to lose my temper. Oh, well. There's always next Saturday.

*It's fifteen items or FEWER. This is NOT a hard rule to figure out. If you can count the things, they're fewer, and if you can't, it's less. Less flour, fewer flowers. Less patience, fewer patients. Not difficult.**

**One of the reasons that attending the temple brings peace and tranquility to my soul is that the door to the women's bathroom is clearly labeled "Sisters' Restroom." The beauty of that perfectly placed apostrophe brings a tear of joy to my eye.


  1. So the Sisters' church is true the brotherns' church is not

  2. Our local Fred Meyer has a line that says "about 12 items."