Monday, December 10, 2012

What Do I Stand For

     Last night my parents and I went to Wendy’s for dessert. We parked, and Dad and I went in. Standing in line, I whispered that I recognized someone across the room whom I’d seated many times at the Bee and waited on at the bank. I thought I could sense that the woman to my left was listening to me. I turned toward her slightly and picked up on little things: a green jacket, a tan face. I like when strangers are tuned in to each other. It’s a nice break from the social standard of pretending everyone else just doesn’t exist. Dad and I noticed a paper taped to the wall, an ad with a picture of a lady and a fat pig-like dog doing yoga. Dad said he’d heard of the pose “downward dog” but didn’t know what it was. I said, “It’s that. She’s in downward dog,” and I wondered if the lady in the green jacket was still listening.
        When the cashier was ready, Dad and I ordered one small and two medium frosties and stepped aside. The four tall guys behind us in line approached the counter. The cashier came back with our frosties and set them down, and Dad said “Excuse me” to the men. They moved over, and Dad reached for the three cups. 
       The woman in the green jacket swooped in. “Sorry but I think these are mine. Two medium frosties. I’ve been waiting a long time for them. Sorry,” she said to me. 
       "No," I turned away her apology, "They’re yours.” 
       She said “Good luck” and rushed out, and I wondered if we really would be waiting a long time for our order. But part of me already knew that something weird had happened. 
        I turned around and told the cashier, “A lady said she’d been waiting a long time for two frosties.” The cashier was confused. I realized she hadn’t been at the counter when the lady had swooped in. I continued, “A lady in a green jacket…” The description didn’t ring a bell. The tall guys vouched for us, “We saw her! She took them out of here!” She looked at the one little frosty left on the counter, “You need two more?” “Yeah,” I said. The four guys who seemed like they were on the way to or from watching football kept joking, “Oh, there’s my frosty. I was waiting so long.” 
        The cashier poured our second set. Outside, Mom was standing next to the car, and as Dad and I walked toward her, I knew he was probably as eager to tell her the story as I was. As we ate, we sat in the parking lot listing all the giveaways that it was theft. If it were her order for two frosties, why were there two mediums and one small? If she was waiting forever, why was she hidden in the shadows and not standing at the counter?  She wished me “Good luck” like an exasperated customer, but it seemed fake. There was no anger in her voice. In fact, she was apologizing to me for taking what were supposedly her frosties. I remembered the guy who tried to con me during one of my first weeks as a teller. He used the word “sorry” and gave off the same vibes--a creepy energy--something I could look back on and feel in hindsight. 
        Whether or not she had weird energy, bad energy, energy that felt off, she may have had good reasons for stealing. 
        Would it be weird to compare this incident with Fun's lyrics, "Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible lies"? It would be a little extreme to call this post-theft conversation with my parents an “amazing thing” or to call the snatching of the frosties a “terrible lie.”

"What do I stand for?
Most nights I don't know anymore."

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