Monday, August 13, 2012

Caution: Crank Ahead

Back when I was young and clueless, I swore I'd never turn into a cranky middle-aged woman.  Sure, I was powerless to stop the aging process, but crankiness was within my control. Right?

Apparently not.

The day started in an ordinary-enough way.  I went to my exercise place for a workout. There, a robot voice orders exercisers to move from one station to the next. I progressed along until I came up to a woman who ignored the robot.  Head down, she pumped her arms in a way that signaled she wasn't about to quit her machine. Fine. Rather than stand behind her and tap my foot, I moved to the station beyond her. Half a minute later, she got off her machine, saw I was where she wanted to go, and turned flustered and fluttery. "Oh!" she said, dismayed. "I guess I'll have to move this way," thus casting me as The Villain and herself as Miss Adaptable.

Really, lady? I thought. What the hell?!

Did I say the above? No. Those of us raised in the offer-it-up-to-God school of accepting slings and arrows, sigh a lot.

Next I went to a new grocery store to buy its baked-in-house, whole-wheat pita bread.  The bakery department was out of whole-wheat, so I picked up a package of the regular. Did I sigh? Reader, you would have thought I had an upper respiratory-tract infection.

At the register, the clerk rattled off the standard, "Did you find everything you were looking for," and that innocent if rote remark unleashed my inner crank.

"I came here for your whole-wheat pita bread, but you didn't have any. I had to take regular." The sawmill-like whine in my voice registered, and I huffed at the injustice of a store without whole-wheat pita.

The young man's eyes widened, and he took a step backward. Supermarkets train clerks to ask customers if they found but what were looking for but fail to teach them to handle any response that isn't "Yes."

The clerk's surprise was laced with something that looked like fear. What's more, his teenage, clueless self probably hated whole wheat and thought I'd lucked out to get the regular.

Did I make the clerk pay for the store's failure to train him? Please! I'm not completely unreasonable. Yet.

Once home, I discovered one of my daughters had used a white, lace trimmed guest towel to remove eye make-up. (I'm aware lace-trimmed guest towels scream middle-aged. So?) Said daughter had already departed for her own house and didn't see me stomp around for five minutes. (The stomping made up for the machine I had to skip at the exercise place but I didn't appreciate that fact at the time.) After much stomping and soaking of the towel in OxiClean, I composed a thoughtful email that may have mentioned respect for things bought with parents' hard-earned cash. I may have signed off with, "Why can't I have anything nice for myself?" Yeah, yeah, cue the violins.

My inner crank is resting now, but she's ready to emerge when needed.

This post is a cautionary tale. If you don't hog exercise machines, keep whole grains close at hand, and remember guest towels exist only to dry the tips of spanking-clean fingers, you'll never have to encounter my crankyboots self.  Then again, I'm open to being irked in other ways.

Tell me I'm not alone in scaring the kid at the register. What brings out your inner crank?


Lark Howard said...

I find myself doing cranky things all the time, Pat. Glad I'm not alone.

Women in SUVs merrily talking away on their cell phones and ignoring the road/traffic/other cars turn me into a screaming banshee in about two seconds. (And yes, women seem to do this more than men.) I find myself yelling "Hang up and $*@&ing drive!!" a lot--and with the top down on my convertible they sometimes hear me.

And don't get me started on dishwasher etiquette, badly behaved children in fine restaurants and Then again, I've been cranky for decades so I can't put all the blame on age.

Sarah Andre said...

PAT! So hard to believe even a tiny percent of you could be cranky! :)

I salute your bravery in answering the clerk truthfully--SO many times I've battled traffic and a parking space only to find the item I came for wasn't stocked that day. (Like today at spinach...spinach, for goodness sakes! Is this one of the drought items?)

But I've lied to the clerks' "did-you-find-everything-you-were-looking-for question every time. I figure: I'm in line with my money out...this cashier is not only utterly helpless to fix my I-Want-Some-@&$%-Spinach problem, but he probably doesn't give a s**t either.

And yet each time I march out of the store thinking 'I should have said NO, maybe I'd feel less angry!' (Which is wishful dreaming. The second I snap at someone- deserved or not- I spend the rest of the day in a mental fetal position of guilt.)

I second all the items on Lark's cranky list and add screaming infants/toddlers on planes (what can you do except keep huffing out cranky sighs?) They should have Adult Only flights...yes, I'd pay extra!

People who don't pick up the 'deposits' left by their dogs (especially on the running path around Memorial Park)and have the audacity to toss you a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it expression.

I don't know if it's middle age crankiness or the hyper-awareness that basic manners and simple decency have been thrown by the wayside. There's so little respect strangers show each other these days. I find my public outings end with me muttering like Rodney Dangerfield.

Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest! :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Uh, oh, I'm getting cranky all over again, Lark, and your mention of SUV did it. Why oh why, when my bitty car and I are at an intersection ready to turn, does an SUV pull up beside me and block my left or right-side vision? Hate drivers who talk on their phones while negotiating the streets. I say rude things about them, too, but usually I've got the windows up and the ac on.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Sarah! WF didn't have spinach? My image of the store is crumbling, but you may have hit on the source of the problem: the drought. Then again, I bought spinach at Kroger on Saturday. (The store without whole-wheat pita rhymes with Siesta.) You mentioned dog-walkers at Memorial Park, but I have a beef with rogue bicyclists at Terry Hershey Park. Most cyclists are great about sharing the path with pedestrians and call out "On your right/On your left." The evil ones, however, like to speed up and pass within a hair's breadth of walkers--or ride three abreast. You said it best with "what-you-gonna-do-about-it expression. I want to wipe it off their smug faces.
PS: I've been the mother on the plane with the crying kids and promise you those moms are the unhappiest passengers of all.

Coleen Patrick said...

Oh so many things unleash the Crank-en in me. For instance, my husband knows not to touch a new magazine that comes in the mail--I must be the first to wrinkle those pages. Or someone leaves a dish in the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher--am I the only one with that power to load that machine?
Oh I could go on and on---this has to be the first blog comment I've ever written where I feel as if I could write an A to Z list answer. :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen,
Crank-en! So funny. Hey, that A to Z list could be a blog post of your own.

Too many people believe only adult females possess the skill to load dishwashers. Males started that rumor and feed it by cramming so much in the the machine, something chips and/or cracks.

"You can't pick up a plate?" used to be my everyday expression. I caught one of my daughters saying the same thing to her boyfriend. Vindication is sweet.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

LOL This was a great post! Yeah, Lark's comment brought out my cranky middle-aged-woman, too! Especially since the dumba$$es yapping on cell phones while driving are usually going ten miles under the speed limit, too! Although if the store clerk asks if I found everything and I didn't, I usually tell them what I couldn't find. Sometimes they offer to look in back, or otherwise, they at least usually apologize. Hope things are better tomorrow! :D

Lynette M Burrows said...

Ahem, this Crank-en mutters curses beneath her breath when the person on the bus has the world's largest purse and bangs it against every passenger on her way to the back of the bus. The woman who is driving and putting on makeup invokes screams of you $@#!ing idiot! And do not even tempt the Crank-en with the kiosk salesman in the mall who, after I said I'm not interested, says 'oh, but it's only five minutes of your time.' ARGH!

Great post, Pat. Had to laugh out loud at: "Did I sigh? Reader, you would have thought I had an upper respiratory-tract infection."

Louise Behiel said...

Pat, my director and I are in total agreement - we are old and grumpy. I don't have a lot of patience with people who don't deliver or follow thru. On the other hand, I am ecstatic and tip well for good service.

Reetta Raitanen said...

Crankiness isn't an age issue. For me it depends on how much I sleep I have gotten, when I last ate something and how crappy day I've had so far.

Sunday drivers and dumb or irresponsible drivers ignite my road rage.

And at home my kids bickering about toys will eventually launch an explosion. They do it at least once an hour these days.

Sheila Seabrook said...

It's a good thing I read your post before I grabbed my first cup of coffee, Pat, otherwise I'd have snorted coffee all over my keyboard.

I love how everyone can relate to the crankiness, but I know this just doesn't happen to women. Men get cranky, too. Maybe the root cause is the the fast-paced world we live in.

These days, my crankiness resides at the checkout counter at whatever store I'm at. There are probably many wonderful people working cash registers, but the ones I encounter yawn in my face or make me wait till they get off their cell phone or refuse to acknowledge my presence with a simple "hello".

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

It's tomorrow, Jennette, and I'm still grumpy. I'm going to take a page from you and let grocery store check-out people know if I naven't found something. I'll let you know whether they start switching on the "closed" signs at their registers as they see me approach.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Jennette! I love your new avatar!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynette! Haha about the woman on the bus with the big purse. She's taking that bus to the airport, where she'll board a plane and repeat her assault on fellow passengers' arms and shoulders.

Crank-en are us.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Yes to good tips for excellent service, Louise. Why do women get a bad rap as tippers? I find hard-working women recognize other hard-workers and tip accordingly.

You, grumpy? I find that hard to believe.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Bless you for saying crankiness isn't an age issue, Reetta! (I'm not convinced, but I appreciate the sentiment.)

Bad drivers probably rate a blog post of their own. As for kids bickering, I remember it well--and it's why I treated myself to a glass of wine every evening from the time they were tiny. Hang in there.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Shame on those counter people for not acknowledging you, Sheila. Do they think retail work is beneath them? You mean they use their personal cell phones while they're supposed to be working? Where are the managers? (Uh oh, I'm bringing cranky back.)

Kay Hudson said...

I'm with you, Lark--drivers on cell phones. I spend so much time on the freeway, and it seems like everyone else on the road is talking instead of paying attention. And then there's the out-of-area number that calls my landline just about every day, stays on the line long enough to trigger the voice mail, and hangs up without leaving a message. And people who walk around texting and checking Facebook on their smart phones and walking into people.

Darn, I appear to be turning into a phonophobe.