Susan Hart Snyder

On the Lighter Side: Crabby clerks, theater gabbers – you better get out of her way

Published: Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3E

In reflecting on my 60th birthday coming up later this year, I regret that I won't actually get to experience 60 because in temperament I'm already 80.

The signs are all there:

I have zero tolerance for the general public.

Warning: If you sit near me in a theater and choose to use a cellphone, whisper loudly to your companion, or even so much as crumble your jumbo bag of popcorn, I will shush you. That is, unless you are scary looking, in which case I will sigh indignantly and move to another row.

Warning: If you act in a manner unbefitting the job that you were hired to do, I won't let you get away with it. There is a line at Costco that my daughter-in-law won't use any longer because of the day the checker was giving the woman in front of me a bad time. When it was my turn, the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Are we having a bad day?"

Her: "No. Not at all."

Me: "Well, you sure aren't acting like it!"

My husband won't go into Apple stores with me any longer – I sense a pattern developing here – because of the time we went to replace the battery in my iPod. The 20-something clerk who approached us as we crossed the hallowed entrance immediately set us straight, barely containing his incredulity at the idea of fixing something rather than replacing it with an overpriced something else.

He informed me that they are not clerks; they are geniuses who work by appointment only.

Silly me. I hadn't heard that everyone with an IQ over 150 had moved to the mall.

That was when I let him know that he was behaving like a condescending little twerp, and I didn't appreciate it. He responded by hot-potato passing me to the old guy in the back – not a genius.

I guess that he thought I wouldn't attack my own kind.

Driving has become a matter of intensive advanced planning: Routes are determined by avoidance of tricky merges, congested freeways and light- rail crossings. Time of day is determined by availability of natural light.

My entertainment choices have narrowed considerably:

I watch old sitcoms on TV. Not because the new ones aren't funny – I really couldn't speak to that – but because of those hand-held cameras, which make me nauseated with motion sickness without leaving my couch.

I avidly read the weekend section of the newspaper, not for what to do, but for what parts of town to avoid. You never know when you might unwittingly happen upon a Rutabaga Festival or a Battle of the Really Bad Bands.

Again, the general public problem.

I tune in mostly to Sinatra radio, not because I have turned my back on the '60s but because it takes me to a happy place where everyone could dance, smiled a lot and pretended to have a really good time.

I listen to NPR – not for their politics, but because they use their inside voices – they don't scream at each other over the airwaves.

I won't even get into the memory issues except to say that they have evolved from being quirky to downright scary.

Oh wait; there is one that I have to share. So, I was coming out of the local post office and a man held the door for me. Pulling his sunglasses off, he said, "Do you remember me? It's Dan." (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

"Sure." I lied, then asked him about his family, told him about mine, all the time smiling and frantically searching my brain for Dan, Dan, Dan? Who the hell are you?

I knew that he had something to do with my husband, but it didn't fit that it was business or his Rotary Club. After I got back in my car, I remembered. Oh my God! I thumped my head against the steering wheel. Dan. He was in our wedding!

When we were having dinner that evening I told the story to my husband, rationalizing that we have been married for 36 years, or is it 37, 38? Anyway, it's been a really long time.

His response: "But, don't you remember, we had them here for dinner a few years ago?"

No. No, I don't. And yes, yes, I'm 80.

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