I'm searching for something of importance in what she's saying to me like a tuner searching for a channel, but it's all static. A wall of irritating, buzzing ego bass trying to force its way into my system.
A crack has developed in the teak frame of a mirror she purchased. Unfortunately, it happens. It's tropical wood trying to adjust to Calgary dryness. The owner can repair it. I've let her know. She knows.
There's some back story. Apparently the owner said he would get her a different one on his next trip to Bali. I explain. The owner had a stroke and now the store is closing. He won't be going overseas again any time soon. I try to nudge into her consciousness that things have changed. She's pissed that he didn't let her know. I guess because she should be top of the list of post-stroke priorities.
Her indignance over this mirror shows no sign of letting up. She doesn't want a store credit. She wants this mirror. The items from this store are knock-em-dead beautiful. Even if she found something similar elsewhere, it would be three times as much.
“I'm sorry, but as I said, you'll have to talk to the owner about repairing it. I have your name and number, and you have his, so that's all that can really be done right now.”
That should be that. I've given her the next step to having her problem solved. I can't fix it myself. The owner is not in. Arrangements will have to be made with him. She's not going to get answers this minute, and I guess that's the problem. Frustrated demands for instant gratification. She's a person who is used to people jumping when she says jump, whenever she slaps the Visa Gold card down.
So she buzzes on, past the point where I've done what I can do about it. I guess she didn't get the memo that I'm too old and bored for this shit.
Because my calm, matter-of-fact demeanor sets her off. She's gunning for a reaction. Wants to goad me into “crossing the line” with her. Ha. Please.
“Well, thanks for all your help! It's great that you're so nonchalant about it!”
She's using her hands to make her point, and I can't help but notice the biggest fucking blood diamond I've ever seen on her left finger. Blood on your hands? Yessum.
She's expecting the usual corporate, “customer is always right” ass-kissing. In this store, you get realism. At least from me. And I see it's not going down too well.
She's an eyeroll-inducing cliche. Overprivileged mature soul with all the entitlement issues that capitalism has taught her to have. And so am I. Tired old soul who can't be bothered with this ridiculousness anymore.
(War criminals running our nations. Media propaganda. Depleted uranium poisoning. Deformed babies. Tortured prisoners. A million dead Iraquis. 3,500 dead American soldiers. 1,800 dead Katrina victims who were supposed to “just drive out of there.” 119 dead Canadians and counting. Working class dying for the rich man's stock portfolio. The Amazon is almost gone. Appalachians are being clearcut. Alberta oilsands poisoning our water and land. Natives with bizarre cancers. The biggest white collar crime in history committed against the people. Teen girls with Chanel purses. Wage slavery. Domestic violence. People are hungry. Misery. The trail of homeless pushing their shopping carts through the snow outside my apartment window. Drive-by shootings on the next block. The store is closing. Kicked out of our location due to Toronto-prescribed gentrification plans. My inflated rent is due. The dentist wants $400 for a cleaning and check-up. They hate you if you don't have those big, bleached chicklet teeth. Only yuppies can afford to buy real food anymore. The rest of us are being slowly starved.)
I'm being berated because I can't rouse the last of my righteous indignation for her. Because there's a crack in her teak mirror frame and she can't have it fixed as soon as she snaps her perfectly manicured fingers.
What injustice. How can I go on in such a world?
When she finally understands she will get nowhere with the likes of me, that there's no use picking at the corpse, she leaves in a perfumed huff.
I take a breath and still my Scorpio guts.
Another customer, a man, who has been quietly perusing the art the whole time this scene was going on, turns to me and says quietly, “Patience is a virtue.”