I went to the Post Office today.
I love the folks at our Post Office. When friends or family visit, if I have to go to the Post Office I bring them with me so I can introduce them to the folks at our Post Office. We laugh, we ask how each others' kids are, we say it is great to see you, hope you have a great weekend, and we mean it.
When the 2nd edition of Mama Pajama Tells A Story got done, my peeps at our Post Office celebrated with me and helped me mail all the pre-ordered copies. They were happy for me.
So this new guy - new to our branch, not new to postal work - was at work one day. I brought some books to mail. My friend, Diana, weighed my packages and told me what they would cost. She got a thought and said to the new guy, "Hey, [hmmm says the evil writer... what fictitious name shall we give the new guy] MEAN MAN, Patience has written a book!" To me Diana said, "MEAN MAN collects books. Fancy ones, with autographs and stuff." To MEAN MAN, "You should get one of Patience's books!"
Nice as could be, all smiley and polite, I say, "I'd be happy to sign a book for you."
Mean Man sneered, yes he did, he positively sneered at me. "I only collect first edition hardcover books, signed by well known authors. I don't want your book."
Well, okay then. My friend Diana said, "You'll be sorry when she's on Oprah!" She rolled her eyes at me. "He will, won't he!"
That was a couple of years ago.
Today I went to mail a couple more books. (Thank you Dear Readers!) My friend Bonnie was working, but noooooooo, the way the line worked out I get Mean Man. Bonnie asks me how I've been, it's been a while, it's great to see you, you cut your hair! I told her that I was asked to do a reading of my book at the college on October 29th! Maybe she could come!
Mean Man said, "Something is wrong with dog people. They're sick." Now, Dear Readers, I'm not going to repeat what Mean Man said. He went on for EVER on how people who loved dogs didn't really deserve to live. And when he ran out of bad things to say about dog people, he started in on artists, and how crazy they are, and what inflated senses of their talent they all have. (My husband is an artist. I forgot to tell you that part, Bill!)
I was in a rather fragile state, and he was being so mean, without provocation, that I was actually fighting tears at this point.
Son of a bitch stinkin' snorkle douche (oops I didn't mean that) ugly horrid book collector with fake signatures on fake first editions shithead. (Oops I did mean that.)
I looked him in the eye. I knew anything I said in defense of dogs or dog people was only going to fuel his ugliness. So I said, "I suppose the twenty-six years I've been a Registered Nurse is worthless too." I know I was beat red. Poor Bonnie was mortified, as were the other people in line.
Well I guess he had a little change of heart or something, because he backpedalled. "Oh, I wasn't talking about you," he said. "I was just talking in general, you know."
Now, usually, I can't think of the right thing to say until I'm lying in bed at two in the morning, still livid. Or finally livid after being sad. But today? Today I had taken all the beating the universe had to give. I looked at that Mean Man and I said
"Oh, I know. Some people get pleasure out of saying hurtful things. They get pleasure out of making other people sad. There are actually some people who feel more important when they are mean to folks who haven't done anything to anyone." [Okay I didn't actually say the last sentence. I thought it, though, so there! And I did actually say the other two, out loud. Not ugly or angry, just matter of fact, trying not to cry.] "Bye, Bonnie! Hope you have a great weekend."
(Of course I forgot to pick up my flat rate envelopes, and Bonnie had to call me back when I reached the door, so I had to come back after sounding all baddass and everyone could see that I had started to cry, but still. I think the dogs would have been proud that I stood up to that Mean Man. It. Was. Enough.)
I am hugging my sweet hounds, and sending out big ah-WOOOOOOOOOOOS to all you WONDERFUL, KIND, LOVING Dog People!
(Google Image, source http://blog.insweb.com)