I was lying my bed just now, trying to get to sleep when I thought about the woman who was rude to me at work today.
I was working on the steak and oyster bar, not the counter.
There's an underclass of people who think it's ok to be rude to waitresses, when they wouldn't even dream of being rude to other people (even other menial workers). I think it's a status thing.
So she sits down and I say "hello" and get her bread and olive oil and all that. And I ask if it's still cloudy outside, you know small talk. She answers me curtly as if I'm preposterous for asking, so I take the hint and drop the small talk. I actually prefer it that way. Once she's had a look at the wine list, I say- "can I get you anything to drink?"
And she orders a glass of wine- "But make sure it's actually cold" - so I get that for her (and it is cold).
Then she asks for the special, which was sea bass.
I say, "I'm so sorry, but we're only serving steak and oysters now"
"Really" she says, as if I'm scum, as if I spat in her face, "really and you couldn't just go over there and get some sea bass from next door?" (the fish counter). She literally sneers. I don't think I've ever heard anyone sneer before.
"Look," I say, "I'll be completely honest our chef is on his lunch break and my colleague who is covering doesn't actually know how to make today's special" (it was a new special)
And then she goes, "don't you think you should have told me this before I sat down?"
Which is a normal enough string of words but she might as well have said "don't you think you should have told me you'd comitted warcrimes before I invited you to my birthday party?". The look she gave me; as if she wanted to turn me to stone.
I can't convey just how foul her tone was. She spoke rudely to me all along- no please or thankyou and the unnecessary quip about the wine. But just such raw fury in her voice. About something so small. And I know the seeds of that fury were nothing to do (hopefully) with the fact that we weren't serving sea bass, but that she thinks I should bloody well be the one to harvest them is just obscene. It's not my job to put up with people like her.
It made me wish I could have spat at her and torn her hair out. It made me want to say "listen you horrible horrible horrible woman, how dare you speak to a stranger like that".
"I don't like steak" she says saying each word as if it's burning in her flabby mouth "and I'm allergic to oysters"
As if I'd personally tried to stuff one in her great wobbling gob.
You're at a fucking STEAK AND OYSTER BAR you cuntess. That's all we serve. We serve steak and oysters and occasionally a special.
If you don't like steak and are allergic to oysters then there's a sushi bar 10 meters away or a cafe at the back of the shop or hundreds and hundreds of bars and proper restuarants outside. But your perched on a stool at a STEAK AND OYSTER BAR. In capital letters. Right above you.
"I'm so sorry" I say, "please just have the glass of wine on the house and then you can always go somewhere else."
But she decided to wait for the chef to finish his lunch break. She just sits there reading a book about angel guides. Her horrid face is the colour raw oysters. Her little slit of downtowned asymetric mouth. Like the coin slot in a piggy bank. Her horrid fishy eyes. I hate her.
When she got her sea bass after all, she sent the plate back because she says it's not clean. (I didn't see whether or not it was because she gave it to the chef).
BUT IT'S A SUPERMARKET. It's not an upscale restuarant- it's not even a restaurant. It's a supermarket. It's a supermarket on a busy Saturday. You're eating lunch in a supermarket. (I hadn't even had my lunch at the point- I didn't go break until 5.00pm in the end).
I hate her so much. This horrid woman. I hate the thought of her. I hate that she can be rude to me and I have to give her a free glass of wine.
But of course I was too busy to be angry until now, because it's not like she was the only customer.
But I was thinking about that horrible woman, thinking about how I'd write about her in an unflattering way. You are not invisible, I am not without thoughts: I saw you, I have passed judgement: I have a way with words, I'll have my way with words: fleshy oyster face, piggy bank pig slit pursed lip, weak mind angel guided fusspot middle-aged past-it sitting alone on a Saturday afternoon, eating alone on a Saturday afternoon soft-flesh like gone-off fruit.
But oh, god I felt sorry for her, not at all suddenly. Slowly, as I wrote (or thought about writing). Sitting alone, guided by angels. The sort of woman who is disproportionately rude to the people just trying to do their jobs.
I was lying in bed and thinking about how angry she made me. This awful woman. And I remembered all at the same time how lonely I am. How being, I don't know, corporeal like having the burden of a body that feels like it's breaking with the literally need for one thing. Just wishing I had someone that would touch me. My loneliness burst and I began to cry.
(But I didn't feel sorry for her yet, I only felt angry)
I don't know if she's lonely- that middle aged undesirable face-like-a-haystack bitch- but I don't hate her anymore. Perhaps she is lost, perhaps she isn't. I feel a late onset empathy, just because she didn't seem happy. How could she have been happy? I wonder what her life is like. I wonder if she knows whether or not she is unhappy. Or who she'd tell either way.
(In other news- I've finshed my exams, went to a clubnight at the Amersham on Thurs Mal's ex and Turtle's boyfriend were both doing dj sets but they don't know each other so it's odd coincidence, went to the Victoria and Albert musuem yesterday to see the Quilts exhibition (again) with my sister Clap and we went for dinner afterwards at drank too much wine which was nice. The end.)