Speak up! They didn’t hear you in Greece!

Her hair’s a curly shoulder-length bob. A mediocre dye job.

Her hot-pink blouse suggests youthfulness but the lines in her face belie her age. Around 50 I’d say.

She sits “alone” at a table in the otherwise quiet cafe on an otherwise quiet cold night after the snow flurries.

Her black laptop and cell phone keep her company. Her cell phone keeps ALL of us company, whether we want it or not. We are privy to all things personal from a Bitchy Blonde who will not shut up.

At her age, she should know better.

Her personal conversation rolls on. And on. Loudly. And on. Still loudly. 15 minutes becomes 30. Still loudly. Still way more personal than the public wants or needs to know.

Only an empty table separates us. After a while, I give her a look. Eye to eye. Not a glare. Not knives hurled from the eyes.

Rather, the look of observation. The look that reveals nothing. The look that says: “I SEE YOU EXACTLY AS YOU ARE. I SEE YOUR BEHAVIOR FOR EXACTLY WHAT IT IS. DO YOU?”

The most powerful look you can give. The most liberating TO give. The potentially most disturbing to receive.

It’s like … catching your kid with his hand in the cookie jar. Say nothing. Just look. It places all burden of awareness on the one behaving badly.

She catches my poker-face direct stare. Turns the volume of her conversation down from LOUD to medium. Turns her back toward the room to face the wall. As if that creates a wall of privacy.

It doesn’t.

Hers is a voice that carries.

Clear across the cafe. I know. Because, fed up, annoyed and disheartened by overall public behavior and hers, I pack up my stuff for a table clear across the cafe. It’s a move of sacrifice. What I gain in distance from the Bitchy Blonde who won’t shut up I lose in a socket for the computer.

Pop-pop-pop! Her p’s punctuate the peacefulness . Sssss-sssss-ssss! Her s’s snake through the air.

I plug in earbuds. Crank up Pandora. Still she remains in my peripheral vision. A reminder of selfishness and rudeness of People in Public With Cell Phones.

I rush through the lemon-lavender shortbread cookie I’d intended to enjoy at leisure. Swallow the last of the Americano. (The best Americanos in town are at the Wild Iris!)

I pen a note in my mini-notepad. Tear out the page. Fold it twice.

She’s finally ended the conversation but is not off her phone. She’s mysteriously changed tables too to one near mine. A signal to vamoose.

I pack up prematurely, heave the heavy backpack onto my shoulders. Step over to her table. She’s typing on the phone, glued to it as if it’s her very source of oxygen. Doesn’t even glance up when a complete stranger’s standing before her at her table.

She reeks of self-centeredness and self-absorption. It’s its own scent. A stench really.

I place the folded note on the black laptop she’s yet to crack open. And walk out, glancing over my shoulder to ensure The Bitchy Blonde’s not following me with a raised knife.

The note reads:

“Your personal talk is intrusive and disrespectful. Next time consider taking it outside. Thank you.”

+ + +

Yeah, the new flower remedies (see post prior) — with an emphasis on self-expression — are already doin’ their thing.

Already I’ve gleaned a new purposeful role: As Johnny Appleseed, Spreading the Seeds of Courtesies & Sensitivities Where There Are None.

And instead of a bag of seed, carrying a notepad and pen remains imperative.

Yeah, gonna be an interesting journey on the new botanical remedies indeed!

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