Friday, September 01, 2006

Re-routing at Starbucks

This post is dedicated to the white woman in the champagne-colored Japanese manufactured 4-door, Sedan-like vehicle who arrived in the overcrowded Starbucks parking lot this a.m. within seconds of me, Namaste, who was in the middle of feline-stalking my choice parking spot.

Given the fact that this particular parking lot is always a bumper car nightmare, I remained calm and methodical in my approach. I drove around the block once and instantly caught a glimpse of a shapely dark haired lady emerge from my establishment of choice. Pastries and caffeine in hand, she waddled her ample self slowly across the lot to her equally-endowed SUV as I made my classic, calm, silent approach. The poor dear was really struggling, but I remained focused on the prize, knowing that in a matter of minutes I would be sitting with my free wireless connection, steaming $4.00 cafe mocha, and start the morning off right by getting some pre-weekend academic duties out of the way.

Approaching my "on-deck" position, I calmly clicked on my indicator light and reached into my tote bag for a morning dose of sheer minty lip gloss, when, suddenly, I looked up to see that another car had emerged out of nowhere, and the driver was also waiting for my coveted car spot. The woman inside was gesticulating something to me, which I found odd and nonsensical. I put my finger on the mechanical button and rolled down the window and put my left hand up in a sign-language style gesture of "I don't really know parking-lot sign language, but, if this is the jungle, lady, let me announce to you that I am eating this prey." After all, I was there first, was I not? Unfortunately, my self-appointed opponent must not have learned this gesture on the planet of lunatics (from which she must have recently arrived). She began wildly pointing and gesturing, first to her own breasts and then to the parking spot in question. "Pernicious woman!", I said aloud. "You have no right to take my spot! I was here first!!" I then re-emerged my left hand to the outside air, and with one finger up, making the school-marmish gesture of "No", then fluidly indicating that I, of course, am "Number 1", and that she needed to "Back off". (God bless 8th grade cheerleading camp.)

Again, I was patient. The woman in the SUV was taking FOR-EV-ER to get herself situated and out of her spot, and so there was nothing to do but sit there and practice impeccable patience. According to the tacit law of parking lot etiquette the spot was mine, and so I was not worried. My opponent, however was relentless, and her gesticulations went from somewhat baffling to entirely insane, angry, and bordering on violence. Instead of responding further to her, I just smiled and waved, and sent her as much non-violent energy as I could, which, of course, only pissed her off more.

Was it worth it to me to get into a verbal altercation with a stranger over where I will park my car? Clearly not. But, at the same time, the animal in me wouldn't back down. She was intentionally inflicting a power play on me, and it was out of hand. Suddenly, another customer emerged from the Starbucks, who happened to be an old acquaintance of mine. He waved and said hello, and said if I wanted to take his spot, I could take it. I relented, only because I was starting to seriously lose my cool. Fatty McGee still hadn't put her car in gear, and my new arch nemesis looked as though she was intent on playing a game of Chicken here in the Starbucks parking lot of Yuppieville, America.

So, I adjusted. My friend gave me his spot, and I effortlessly parked my economy size car. No big deal. I was frustrated with not having the feeling of satisfaction for winning the feud, but I took a moment to remind myself that it just wasn't worth it to start the day on such a bad note. Meanwhile, Fatty McFatter's finally managed to maneuver her rotund SUV, and ambled away, and my formidable foe sped into the empty spot. I sat for a minute in my car to calm down and count to ten as a very plain-looking, pastel-patterned woman emerged from her Japanese thing. She didn't even give me a wave of thanks or a smile to clear the air. Instead, she glared at me, grimaced and huffed (with very poor posture) inside the store.

At first, I thought about just finding another coffee spot, but instead, I decided to go in an get what I came for. Inside, the woman was barking questions at the Starbuck's staff. She seemed exceptionally agitated that I was standing behind her in line, but would not make eye contact. I, of course, stood about two feet away, very calmly, and stared at her. The staring made her very uncomfortable and self-conscious. If she had turned around and looked at me, I would have given her the biggest of smiles and said, "I really hope that you are having a good day, my friend." But she didn't turn around. She just barked at the Starbuck's employee, grabbed her coffee without saying 'thank you', and bustled over to the sugar and cream station. She was clearly uncomfortable. Then, just when I was about to approach the sugar and cream station where she stood, preparing her coffee, she angled her body in such a way that I could not share the station with her (as most people do). I then repositioned my body so that she had see me, standing to the side of her with my coffee in hand, smiling away at her. Believe me, it took everything in me to do this. To not give her the power over me to lose my mind and say ugly or unkind things. Part of me wanted to tell her that I just got back from a part of the world where she would have been literally dead by now for acting this way. I wanted to tell her how indulged and idiotic she was acting, to use this is an opportunity to vent from my soapbox of "this is why the world hates Americans." But, no. Instead, I just smiled and reminded myself to breathe.

I think if I had confronted her on her poor behavior, and told her was a sickening human she was being this morning, it would have soothed her need for conflict in some bizarre way. She may not have even been able to admit it consciously, but she was hell-bent on confrontation in the most passive-aggressive way I've seen from someone in years. So, yes, I smiled at her. And, without making eye-contact, she scowled at me. I just smiled more, and thought, "Wow, lady, no one loves you because you don't love yourself. How about I love you for a minute this morning? Can you handle that? Someone you just pissed on is standing here, loving you! Wow!"

As she walked away from me, I audibly and non-violently said, "I really hope you have a great day, lady." Honestly, I hope she does.


O-FACE said...

So violent you are grasshoppa....I totally would of played the John Karr card on her and pulled my pants up to my heart with the callous cold stare.....but i'm crazy like that....have a great weekend....

jaymichaelrivera said...

Well written. And systemic of our commuter culture. I just don't think we were meant to live this way.