I have to be honest with you. I am impatient. For an impatient person at Christmas, Hiawassee Georgia is probably not the best place to be. I was at a traffic roundabout yesterday – a circle around a historic building (tricked out with wreaths and candles at every window). This roundabout has a traffic light at one end and a stop sign at the other and although it is smack in the center of a sleepy little town, it is the one thoroughfare to several towns with essential shops like Hogeds Mountain Outfitters and Walmart.
I was half way around the circle and trying to pass through to a side street with a shop marquee that crowed HIKERS WELCOME!, when a kid in a beater truck pulled onto the circle, directly in front of me – blocking my way. He had nowhere to go – he was part of a traffic jam that was stalled behind several red lights, and there was plenty of room behind him to back up and clear the way for me. He was on the phone.
I made the universal, “Are you kidding me?” gesture – hands raised palms up, my head looking right to left for support from my fellow drivers. I tapped the horn and when he looked at me I pointed behind him, “Hello – back it up asshole…” He looked at me blankly and back at his phone.
No way. This time I turned to get some input from the guy stuck behind me. I mouthed, “Can you believe this?” He was just sitting there, stoically. As if there was nothing he could do. As if the kid in the truck couldn’t back up five feet and let us through to buy our hiking gifts more quickly. I was about to blow my horn again when it occurred to me that people in this neck of the woods carry guns in their trucks and it’s hunting season…
I just started laughing. In the old, drinking days I would have popped a screw-cap wine shooter from the glove box and laid on the horn – caution to the wind. I would have rolled down my window and screamed, “BACK UP!” till my veins bulged. But yesterday I laughed.
I went to the Dollar General in Hiawassee for ribbon. There were at least thirty people in line and the sixty-something cashier (rode hard and put up wet) was bagging like a champ. The woman at the front of the line was old and myopic and she kept pushing “cancel” instead of “okay” on the credit card machine and it went on for a while and the crowd got restless.
The woman in front of me said, “Oh for God’s sake – it’s Christmas! Where are all the cashiers?” Like she was in the Bergdorf’s gift wrap line. She turned around to me for support. I looked forward stoically.
When I got to the front of the line I said, “So, are you okay? You’re working pretty hard today. I guess you’re going to sleep well tonight.”
The cashier said, “I never sleep good, darlin’. And it’s not my fault they cut the hours.”
The cute guy behind me said, “They’re trying to make money – less staff and more customers. Besides, it’s Christmas – people should expect to wait.” He was really cute.
I said, “You’re right. It’s Christmas after all.”
The cashier swung the bag carousel. She looked at me and said, “I like your attitude. You’ve got two bags honey. And Merry Christmas.”
Merry Christmas indeed.
Today I’m not drinking, because I don’t want to get into a fight where guns are involved. It’s Christmas after all…
How come you’re not drinking?