Silly me, I never seem to get around to running my errands until half past noon, which means I often end up standing in long, slow-moving lines.
Last week as I stood in a queue at a bank, I heard the man behind me mumbling under his breath. At first his words were muffled, but eventually the clarity and volume of his mutterings increased. He seemed to be upset about having to wait too long for the next available teller. At first I didn't want to turn around and look at him, because I didn't want to encourage his rant, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I sneaked a glance over my shoulder. I found myself staring into the bloodshot eyes of someone who resembled the archetypal "angry man" who may or may not have voted our most recent U.S. President-elect into office.
"There are only two teller windows open," the angry man said. "This is an outrage: I've seen four other tellers walk past and go into the back room." He seemed to be addressing both me and the man standing behind him, a fellow wearing an expression of good-humored neutrality.
Before the election happened, I might have also assumed an expression of good-humored neutrality, if only to avoid conversation with the angry man, but these days I find myself acting differently. In a firm and practical tone I announced, "That's because it's noon. People are on their lunch hour."
"That's no excuse," the angry man said.
Suddenly I felt very tired. I repeated a variation on what I'd just said."People need to eat lunch."
The good-humored man smiled and said nothing.
"I'm impatient, and I admit it," the angry man said.
"Then go ahead of me," I said.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," I said. "I'm not in a hurry."
Just then a teller window became available. The angry man thanked me and walked away. I said to the good-humored man, "I only did that because I wanted to get rid of him, but if you're in a hurry you can go ahead of me as well."
The good-humored man smiled a big, sexy grin. "I'm not in a hurry."
And he wasn't.