The other day, I went out with mom to buy groceries. We didn’t have too many items to check out, so, thinking it was the express counter, we stood in the queue of what turned out to be the cash-only register.
While we were quietly awaiting our turn, a bloke sidled up next to us. He was an old, grizzled chap, clearly middle class. Age usually makes me kinder, having older parents makes you acutely aware of people’s increasing frailties.
But, in contrast, a lifetime of being sidled up to inappropriately by men, and facing a nation full of queue-jumping selfish morons, has also honed a sixth sense which throws kindness to the wind. So when this particular piece of trash sidled up to us, I stuck out an elbow, and thrust my shopping cart aggressively in between.
Not that he got the message, because he continued to be uncomfortably close. Till I realised that he was just a patriarchal relic, and was pushing to be done with the process faster – which made me madder than otherwise.
My mom was in front of me, and she waited while the person before us had cleared their stuff into bags. She had her hand draped on the conveyor belt. And the man chose this moment to pipe up: “Oh! You can move your hand and start putting your stuff there.”
Now, I am aware that English is not the average Indian’s first language. I am aware that because of this, they sometimes choose the wrong words. However, nobody gets their tone wrong inadvertently. This guy was instructing us. And I was: Fuck that!
So I turned around and said: “We can see that. It would be nice if you could have some patience.” Make no mistake about it, I was fuming. And worse, I couldn’t even get the sentence out fully, because he interrupted me!
“Ok! Ok! Ok!” he said. I was even more furious. I couldn’t even put him in his place, because he was cutting me off in a louder tone! I seethed.
Finally, I started loading our stuff. I pulled out my card to pay, when the cashier said that it was a cash-only register. My mother and I were surprised, but didn’t argue. We said we were sorry, apologising for missing the tiny sign pointing in a different direction, packed up our things, and went to stand in another queue.
But not before: “Oh! This is cash-only. There is a sign. They don’t accept credit cards in this line.”
My mother had already walked on by, but I couldn’t take it.
“Please mind your own business. The cashier has already informed us of the mistake. It really doesn’t concern you.” Except, I got to ‘business’, and I got cut off again. But this time, I said: “Don’t interrupt me. So rude!”
Again, got interrupted. And the worst part was that he kept telling me to “Relax!” and how he was not doing anything, making me look like a demented lunatic for getting so hyper in the first place.
And that riled me even more. The cheek of someone telling me to calm down, because I objected to his patronising behaviour and intrusion into my personal space is just beyond my comprehension.
I need a way to figure this one out.