Wednesday, April 13, 2011

People Like 'Us'

Perhaps it was the suede elbow patches on the tweed sport coat. Or maybe the two inch cuffs draping over the top of my Bass wing-tipped Oxford's. It might have been the English wool felt cap 'strategically dipped' to the right. It might even have been the articulate elocution of my banter with the cashier while waiting in the check-out line. The glint of gold on wrist and fingers may have contributed. Probably a combination of all the above added to my overall public demeanor. Whatever it was, it inspired the somewhat faded yet distinguished older gentleman behind me to lean forward and mutter conspiratorially in my ear with a nod and glance to my right: "It's people like us that pay the way for people like them."

To my right was a youngish woman with several children all of whom were gleefully bagging and boxing their purchases. This particular grocery store cuts its prices by not employing people to bag for you. The store provides plastic bags and the cardboard boxes the products come in for toting. Their cart was full of the necessities of their lives. Not so much from a nutritional point of view but from the need to make their food-benefits allowance last through the month. The card that these benefits are purchased with is very conspicuous.

People like us. People like them.

When did I become an 'us'?

I cannot say the woman or her children were particularly tidy or stylish. I can say that they all seemed very cheerful and boisterous. Their zeal may have drowned out the comment. Or, they were so accustomed to hearing such things they had developed the second nature to ignore it. I pray that it was the former rather than the latter.

I heard him. The cashier heard him. It was calculated to be heard.

People like us.

My cart was fairly light and tallying up was quick. I keep cardboard boxes in the trunk so I don't need to bag inside the store. I can sort and load directly from the cart. Something snapped. I am not a reticent person.

I turned to look at my fellow check-out denizen. My chin was elevated allowing me the advantage of looking down my nose. A slow appraisal. "People like 'us'?" I repeated at length. "From looking at you, I would never have guessed that you were an alternatively-oriented tree-hugging socialist! I'm so glad to know there's more than one of 'us'"! I leaned toward him, gave him a big, fondling hug and an embarrassingly loud, wet kiss on the cheek. "Keep the faith!" was my smiling exit line from the store.

I only hope the paramedics arrived in time to be of some assistance.


  1. With my long ponytail, bushy mustache, shorts, aloha shirt and flip flops hardly anyone says "people like us" to me. I think it is the reusable grocery bags that throws them off.

  2. I cheered loudly, laughing, and clapped my hands over my head!
    Then I had to read the whole thing aloud to Afternoon Boss.

  3. Way to go!!!!!!! Love you bunches!!!!!

  4. Bravo Lord Wellbourne! I don't think the reptilian brain of the human species has changed very much during the past several millennium, and it doesn't appear it is likely to start evolving, in what most of us would consider a socially positive direction, anytime soon. Neither civility, tolerance, nor respect, can be taught, legislated, or subsidized. I'm getting too old, and unfortunately indifferent, to let life's inequalities upset me. I do try to live each day with more understanding, kindness and compassion than I once did, but, as I spend most of my time amongst the trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables in the garden, my patience and ability to keep a 'courteous' tongue is rarely 'tested.' (38 degrees and a cold rain today so spent a few hours playing with the cat instead of planting seed.)

  5. Oldfool:--It's people like him that NEED people like her to feed their false sense of superiority. I would much rather have had you in line with me! I neglected to mention that everything I was wearing--with the exception of the gold--was purchased at various thrift stores. We are all equal--some folks just have more time and better accessories.

    June:--Thank you--what a marvelous compliment!

    Lady H:--I know my behaviour must have come as a surprise to you--remembering how shy and reserved I am :-)

  6. L.F.:--I understand your sentiments exactly. Normally I wouldn't have responded to this gentleman with anything other than a polite smile. I think what triggered my resentment was the insinuation that I somehow belonged to his 'club' where the only requirement necessary to belong consists of having the same brand of narrow-minded priggery. Like you, I prefer communing with the flora and fauna of my semi-reclusivity. My cats are very broad-minded about my wardrobe. We had exactly the same weather though we are at opposite ends of the country. The seeds and bulbs are being very understanding.

  7. He wasn't wearing a flag and carrying across as well was he LW?
    As we say in Strine, ONYA!! It was really the idea of the kiss and hug that did it for me, I would love to have seen his face!

  8. A frequent descriptive of you in my mind? "Classy"! xoHugsfrom TXxo my alternatively-oriented tree-hugging socialist rockstar!

  9. Von:--Oddly enough, he wasn't wearing any badges or talismans of his tribe. I would like to have seen his bumper stickers though...I didn't stay long enough full effect fall-out, but my parting glance at him revealed a very startled deer-in-the- headlights look.

    Red:--Now, coming from a class-act such as yourself, that's a real compliment! You and Lady H know me well enough to understand how I just couldn't pass that opportunity up. Each of us has been considered 'people like them' at one point or another. And we prefer it that way! XXX's and OOO's from ME to you in TX! Rockstar huh? Yeah. Just picture me playing the air accordion.

  10. Such wonderful conversation here. Have come via Suburban Soliloquy.

  11. Oh no, you didn't. Did you? Tell me you did.
    You're approach was more elegant than mine would have been in that situation.
    Situations like that make me speak out loud or adopt more cats and trees.

  12. P.S. Coincidentally I posted about our special cat, you might appreciate it:)

  13. Oh, how I would have loved to be in the market! Precious. Just precious! (And I do love a tweed jacket w/suede elbow patches.) ;)

  14. What a wonderful video that would have made.

    Do you really dress like that to go to the grocery store?

  15. Senible Footwear:-- Greetings and Welcome! Yes, indeed, we do have a nice time here behind the backwoods.

    Antares Cryptos:-- Oh yes, I did! 20 years ago I probably would have gone all militant on the gentleman but the years have given me a more subtle dagger to stick in and twist. Going over to see your post momentarily!

    Jayne:-- Haven't been back to that particular market since this incident. I know the cashier will give me a big smile and nod toward me and tell her co-checkers "that's him...that's the guy who freaked the old stick-in-the-mud out!"

    Anne:-- Yes, I do dress like that quite often. Grocery stores, libraries, L.L. Bean, farmer's markets. The only time I dress on the down-side is when I go to yard/garage sales. I've noticed the prices seem higher the better I'm dressed. At home I look very much like any bedouin you might encounter on the steppes. Very comfy and unconfining.

  16. I'm glad you said something to him.

    I'm afraid that I would have said, "Excuse me? Who in the world do you think YOU are?" I have this tendency to be protective of people who are belittled.

    Therefore... "treat one another as you would have them treat you".

  17. Joey:--My reactions are instantaneous and I credit my inner warning system for not allowing me to be as mean-spirited as the offender. I prefer to make an impression that teaches a lesson. Around town I'm the guy that causes people to nudge one another, gesture by nodding their heads in my direction and say "That's the guy who....."

    Like you, I am an advocate for the underdog. I loathe anyone who cruelly inflicts their sense of superiority and betterness on someone else. In these situations my bite is far worse than my bark.

  18. Oh yes!
    I wish I had been there, if only to hear the big smacker you gave him! lovely nice to make your aquaintence M'Lord.

  19. Cranky:--The pleasure is all mine and I assure you, the admiration is mutual!