Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is There An Award For People Who Can't Shut The Fuck Up?

We have security guards in my apartment complex. It's debatable whether they're necessary at this point but they're certainly a good idea. This company is, I will admit, more effective than the last. Effectiveness, however, equals not really helping anyone by holding or opening the door unless you sign an affadavit in triplicate. I'll set down my seventy-eleven bags, muzzle my dog, and use my key, it takes less time. The trickle down effect here, though, is that I don't really talk to the guards unless there's a specific reason to engage and, my life is pretty simple, a reason rarely comes up. They respond in kind for the most part. I'm cool with that.

Last night, the first work day after the time change, I was bushed and I walked my dog about 10:30pm. As I struggled with the key for the guard's booth, which always sticks, I heard some words that might be pointed in my direction so I looked up at the guards. There were two of them, safely ensconced behind the desk, seated, chillin' and the younger one was talking to me. Not to me, at me.

"Zip up your pocket properly," he told me.

He told me. Not asked, not suggested, not warned, flat out told me what to do.

"What?" I responded, incredulous and scrambling for an appropriate response.

"Zip up your pocket properly so things don't fall out." This time complete with raised voice, crisp diction, and a mimed re-enactment of what zipping a pocket would entail.

I stared at them both, just stared and stared. I couldn't think of anything to say because I was so angry and offended. I wanted the staring to look batshit crazy and therefore off-putting. If I have to be perfectly honest I bet it just made me look like a dimwit.

The thing is, this happens to me all the time. Not like every day but frequently enough that I should have a plan of action by now. I don't. I wish I did. People who genuinely have my best interests at heart or see a legitimate danger never tell me what to do. They are unfailingly courteous and gentle. A couple of weeks ago I unwittingly walked the width of Manhattan with my skirt tucked into my underwear. A few blocks from my destination a jogger swung in close and whispered to me, "Your skirt is tucked up," and kept jogging. I was startled but relieved and endlessly grateful. Any embarrassment was mitigated by the way the woman kept the conversation private and brief. That's the way it's done!

Do you know what I keep in my unzipped pockets? Bags to clean up after my dog physically and treats to clean up after my dog emotionally. Also my keys but they'd make an ungodly sound if they fell out so I'm not worried about that, though I am careful. My cell phone and my wallet, when I have them with me, are always in a pants pocket or the inner pocket of my jacket, well away from prying hands or eyes. The guard didn't know that, of course, but that's mostly because it's none of his fucking business.  However, if he'd discreetly said, "Your keys are falling out," or "Your pocket is unzipped," my gut response would have been more likely to be, "Oh, yeah, it's just bags for the dog so I'm not worried," instead of, "Fuck you, you nosy, arrogant, patriarchal pile of  judgement!" Or words to that effect.

This is why I wanted to move out of a small town. In a community like that everyone has expectations about how to mow your lawn, park your car, raise your kids, buy your groceries, and serve your Thanksgiving turkey. A lot of people thrive in those environments and they do it with a variety of perfectly valid skills and tactics which they deploy with brilliance and individuality. Sometimes they don't give a shit what people say, sometimes they want to learn how to do something better, sometimes they endorse the community model and are working with it, sometimes they even argue to change the model. I have trouble flourishing within those parameters because the rebukes stick with me. Even though I'm not going to stop walking around with my pockets unzipped I'm going to have roller coaster stomach for weeks every time I walk through that damned booth waiting for this ass monkey to haul out his holier than thou and puke it up all over me again. I'll prepare responses that will never be used, I'll feel sullen and outraged, and I'll write about it on the internet for weeks. You just see if I don't.

I could, I guess, nip it in the bud. When I walk the dog tonight I could invite the guy to come with us. I'll give him the poop bags and the Scooter Snacks and I'll make sure he zips them up tight into his pockets. Then I'll show him how long and torturous a half block walk would be with all the zipping and unzipping, racing to beat the nervous and digestive systems of one tiny little dog.

Yeah, that's what I'll do. Then he'll know I'm not crazy at all.

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