Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Portrait of Misery

She stood at the counter tapping her foot while they prepared her food. Everything was wrong, it was too cold, they were too slow, she didn’t want onions, why didn’t they give her onions when she specifically asked for them?

She was of an age that could have been dignified, could have been elegant. She stood squeezed into too-tight flared jeans and high-heeled boots; her graying hair sprayed and gelled into submission, makeup smeared thickly across what might have been wisdom lines and laugh lines on another woman. Hiding them and emphasizing them at the same time.

She glared at the counter staff with an imperious toss of her head when he brought her tray. “Have a nice day,” he said.

“No chance of that,” she spat, stalking off with her tray, taking her two bean burritos off to her private corner of the restaurant, muttering about the “ignorant brats” who probably still needed to learn their ABCs. She stopped and complained to an elderly gentleman in neatly pressed clothing for exactly two minutes and twelve seconds. The gentleman tried to finish his lunch, looking away in embarrassment.

She stomped towards me, glaring as if she suspected me of being in league with the counter help. I glared right back, then rolled my eyes and looked at my book again, telling her wordlessly that she wasn’t worth my time. She sighed in great exasperation that no one was left to listen to her complain. I heard her muttering to herself at a table two behind mine for quite awhile after she sat down.

When she finished her food, she threw her tray at the trash can and swept out of the restaurant, glaring at me again, probably thinking she was grand and intimidating, when all I really wanted to do was ask her if the reason she kept herself from smiling was so that the painted mask on her face wouldn’t crack.


Tirithien said...

Maybe she was worried that she looked like an onion, which is why she didn't want onions. ;-)

naneth said...

I LOVE this! So many people out there like this woman; no exaggeration with her description.

It makes you wonder what happened to them in their lives that left them so mean and twisted. She could have been having a bad day. Week. Month. Lifetime.

Or, she hates herself so much that she has to take it out on everyone around her. Thinking everything is their fault and not her own. Some people just look for an excuse to be angry. To make herself say a kind word to someone might make a profound change in this woman's life. The world owes her nothing. She owes. Kindness.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Preach it, mama. :-)