A couple of days ago I went on a rare non-rushed Target run - one of my very favorite pastimes.
To be clear, the “non-rushed” part is what was rare about it. The Target run itself isn’t rare for me at all.
In fact, the last time Mark joined me there he looked over and said, “Do you see the problem?” when we passed an employee who said to me, “Your haircut is so cute! I love your highlights this time,” which was just a few minutes after another employee asked as she straightened products on the shelf, “How did your IKEA built-ins* turn out?”
I had enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the store, having some delicious alone time before family came in for spring break.
I finished unloading my cart onto the belt when the man checking out in front of me turned and said, “Sorry, ma’am, this might take a minute. My card was declined and I don’t have any cash or other cards with me.”
He was punching in numbers on his phone.
“No problem,” I said, “I’m not in any hurry. You must have Bank of America?”
He nodded and put his phone to his ear and grumbled that yes, and Bank of America is so worried about having to refund someone their money, blahblahblah.
Whatevs. I didn’t care. I was reading about Colin Firth’s “shocking marriage secrets” and the “new details” of Meghan Markle’s princess training from the cover of People Magazine.
I pulled the magazine off the stand and flipped through to find the article on the future Duchess of Sussex because I’m obsessed with the royal family.
After seeing the shots of Meghan’s style through the years, I was just getting to the juicy parts of the article speculating on which tiara she’ll wear at her May 19th wedding, when Declined Debit Card Guy said to the check-out guy, “Have you heard-- well, unless you watch Fox News, you haven’t heard it, but--” he turned to look at me, now, “have you heard the number of jobs that have been created since Trump’s been in office? Two million. Two million new jobs since Trump has been in office.”
He was looking at me again, this time with his eyebrows raised, and leaning forward a bit as if to entice me to look at all the colorful candy under his trench coat, when he said, “And - what’s that company that starts with an A… Amazon! Did you know that Amazon is bringing 35 million jobs back to America that were taken off-shore during the Obama administration?"
His teeth peeled back a little as he put emphasis on the words as he said again, "Thirty-five million. Can you believe that?”
He was full-on looking at me, now, in obvious expectation of agreement.
“Hm,” I said with a polite but non-committal expression, and I wanted that to be all he’d require of me because there’s hardly anyone else on this earth less politically opinionated than me, and I am always on the lookout for ways to avoid polarizing subject matter of any type, especially after finding my zen browsing Target’s new spring clothing collections.
Meanwhile, Checkout Guy was trying to be nonchalant as his eyes darted around, clearly looking for a manager to come void out the transaction and get the line moving again.
But Declined Debit Card Guy continued nodding his head at me, nonverbally begging me to jump on board.
I couldn’t do it.
First, I don’t know if these were factual figures he was rattling off or not.
I hardly, if ever, buy in to stats that I haven’t calculated on my own because for nearly 20 years I analyzed statistics and I know they they can be pulled in a variety of ways, depending on whatever point you want your stats to support.
Secondly, I was picking up on his aggressive vibe loud and clear, and I’m never interested in talking politics with someone who brings it up in this way: out of the blue, with no apparent segue, and with a pushy tone.
Big turn-off for me.
And I want to know... what's the purpose of someone who does this?
Third, I just wanted to read about the royals. Is that too much to ask?
“I thought we had something with that Bank of America thing, but you’re losing me with this Trump stuff,” I told him, trying to be a little funny while also attempting to shut it down.
“What do you mean?" he pulled his head back and his face smushed into disapproval. "Oh, I’m so glad Hillary Clinton didn’t make it into office-- you know, I traveled with her. She’s a dirty, crooked woma--”
“No no no, I’m not a Hillary fan, either. I don’t like either one.”
I’d said too much. I should have stopped right there.
I should have stopped because as I heard myself talking to this guy, our conversation moved swiftly from politics to religion, and escalated from benign chatter to a lathered-up showdown that had him frothing at the mouth and my stomach in knots.
It isn’t just because having a confrontation is a great source of displeasure for me.
I have an unwritten rule not to share my political or religious beliefs willy nilly.
These beliefs are so very private, and there are many layers making up our belief systems in these two areas.
It’s too complicated to talk religion or politics unless you have a broad swath of time to ponder the different viewpoints each person in the conversation brings to the table, and are willing to open your effing mind just one tiny smidge to someone else’s thoughts.
I'm rarely interested in discussing anything heavier than Kindle vs. nook or broccoli vs. broccolini. Much less my political and religious beliefs.
For me, these are intimate topics.
To be more specific, I generally won’t discuss religion or politics with you unless we’ve had sex with each other, or if I’ve given birth to you, or if you’ve given birth to me, or played an integral role in getting me birthed.
I know it sounds like a narrow audience, and it is, now that I’m a married woman. **smirk**
Furthermore, I’m not at all interested in having an interaction with someone who’s cramming their opinions down my throat.
Since he wasn’t taking my more and more overt social cues to shut his clamshell, and with the checkout guy now tapping his hand nervously on the counter, still looking around for a manager to come to his rescue, I was forced to get my point across by resorting to my go-to behaviors any time I'm in a fight: raising my voice and gesticulating wildly, launching my counterattack with exaggerated arm movements and wildly delivered air quotes.
Are you old enough to remember when Steve Martin played the guy on Saturday Night Live who would say, “Well, excuuuuuuse me!”?
I’m sharing a clip here because that’s exactly what I looked like.
Except with air quotes. So many air quotes.
I’m proud of myself for defending what I believe in, and for not nodding in agreement, which is usually my m.o., just to appease this stale ham sandwich of a man.
He was finally shuffled away by a manager moving him to another lane and making him another cashier's problem, to whom he kept whooping and hollering his position, occasionally tossing his head back over his shoulder toward me, indicating to New Cashier that I was the Godless woman he was talking about.
Why are there people like this in the world? Why?
What do you think of this schmo? Would you have humored him? Would you have argued your points? Laughed him off? Just curious what normal people do in situations like this. Teach me everything you know in the comments.
*I wrote about these IKEA built-ins in this post, and I'm annoyed to tell you that - to answer the Target employee's question right here in writing - they haven't "turned out," because they aren't finished, yet. Ugh, why can't I finish a project to save my damn life?? They're just-enough finished that the room doesn't look bad, but they aren't fully trimmed-out just yet. I'll share soon, I promise!