I admit it. I was cruel to someone in the checkout lane. Not too long ago I was in the grocery store waiting to pay for my groceries. I stock up for week for a household of three (me and my two adult daughters still living at home) and since we eat "close to the earth" I tend to buy a lot of produce and have a very full cart.
As often happens to me, a guy with two things asks if he can cut in front of me. I always say "Sure," but this time I said "Nope." It was late, I was tired, there had been 3-4 people will full carts ahead of me, someone probably cut me off on the road getting there, who knows?
He gives me a shocked look, like "Really dude? Like I punched him in the face. I suppose nobody had ever told him "No" before. He waits for the reason.
"Pal, you got two options made just for people like you. The Express Lane and 7-Eleven." We looked over and the Express Lane had 10 people in it. "Besides, if you think about it, you have to ask permission of everyone else behind me (there were 2). He asked the next person and she pretended not to understand English. I had apparently set a fine example of social-code-breaking for her. I was proud of myself.
Why does this happen to me? I figure because I'm usually a chump. It's probably because I'm small, or my posture or the distance I leave between me and the people in front of me. I always drive leaving 3-4 seconds of space between me and the car ahead. People cut in, never wave, I fall back. Repeat. You feel like you're falling behind. But inevitably you pass a lot of the people who jumped in ahead who have since jumped to other lanes.
Anyway I started to feel bad, like I was a rude asshole. Had I messed with this guy's faith in the goodness of his fellow man? Was the Chinese thinker Meng-Tze wrong (boils down to "Man is good")? Someone told me I was just acting like a New Yorker. But I had groceries to put on the conveyor belt and banished the guy out of my consciousness until he made a point to drop by as I was being rung up and say "Ha, got out before you!"
That episode taught me an important life lesson. If you're going to be an asshole, always pretend that you don't know English!
Don't forget to pick me up a can of sardines,