Being Present. With Socks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008
The other day while I was running some errands I ended up at Walmart to return some socks I had purchased a week earlier which were about 9 sized too big.

I realize I digress here, but who in the world buys socks that attempt to climb over ones calves and secure themselves nicely in the crack beneath ones knees? I mean, who besides my dead grandfather, likes having socks ride up so high that they could be confused with the stylish leg warmers of the 1980's?

Having made the wrong purchase a week earlier, and discovered the problem early one morning as I dressed in the dark and the socks continued their journey past my heels, my ankles, and my calves, reaching dangerously towards my ticklish knees, I sought to return them.

I took my place as the only person in the chute waiting my turn to explain to some young lady half my age why I didn't love the luxurious feel of encapsulating my calves in some cotton rayon blend, and because I was tired, I leaned against the wall for support.

After some four minutes of waiting, a thirty something mom came to join me in the line with some toys to return and while I appreciated the company I was at first surprised, then shocked, then ticked off when she walked right past me and stood in front of me in the chute.

The Nerve, I thought, of this woman. What am I, chopped liver? And who is she and where does she order her nerve from because there are days and meetings at which I should like to be the keeper of such nerve that I would order it and use it en mass.

So, standing behind her now, watching the young lady behind the counter deal with another customer who had obviously come with her own high dosage of Nerve and was giving her some trouble; (Allow me to interject here some of my vast experience in retail; the customer is rarely right. In fact, the customer is most often not right, but we say that they are right because we want them to come back and spend their money here, at this store. In fact, the louder and more obnoxious they are, the righter they are.)

When the line cleared and the lady in front of me began to move towards the counter, the girl behind the counter looked at me with a helpless look, and in that moment of eye contact I took my opportunity to sweep past the Nerve filled lady and declare in a loud voice, "I have a return to make."

Nerve lady stopped short in surprise and her mouth flapped open as counter girl and I looked back at her. Nerve lady was offended and hurt, and began to sputter "But I was waiting in line, I was the next person in line..."

To which I replied, "That was me leaning against the wall there!" and I turned towards counter girl and got out of the long sock business altogether.

Now, I am not a small man, 6' 3' on a good day, with my weight running a bit over the 200 lb marker. I initially found it hard to think she would miss me. I'm just not that missable, really. I am not saying I shouldn't be missed, but more that its just tough to miss me. How could she actually, really, walk past me, brushing against my coat, actually have missed me?

And I got to thinking as I left with my new short socks, she was probably so distracted with life that she really didn't see me. It wasn't that she had a lifetime supply of nerve to spend in 5 minutes, it was more that she was distracted.  I mean sometimes I get so distracted with life that I don't remember things told to me, or I don't remember the drive home, or I forget my Spiritual Direction meeting Tuesday morning.

Life can do that to you. You get so overwhelmed that you miss the moment.

That's what I am afraid of for the wedding next week. I don't want to miss the moment and walk past people. I don't want to not see things that I should see and feel and experience. I want to live the days and minutes well, etch them into my memory and hold them there forever.

So I'm trying hard to get into that headspace now, and it's tough, really.

But I have a week left.

Only one week.


I might need some nerve yet...


  1. We went to A&W last night for supper. There was a long lineup and Dixie got in a huff when a man came in after us, walked past her and to the shorter line at the other till. She spent her time in line glaring at the man. I had to tell her not to make a scene, which is a first, and I told her afterwards that it was a little embarrassing how she was acting! (Isn't it supposed to be the man/husband that does embarrassing things? That's what the sitcoms tell me, anyway.) Weird that you should post this now.

    (Incidentally, I don't think the man necessarily did anything wrong, because the multiple lines at fast food restaurants technically allow you to pick a line, rather than stand in behind the longest one. We just made the mistake of standing in the longest one.)

  2. The problem was that there was a mass of people, not in ANY distinguishable line, and the guy just walked right around, seeing all of us waiting (presumably in ONE line which will diverge one person at a time as a till becomes free), and deliberately walked around and made TWO lines, him being next in line at the other till. That's why there needs to be a queue at all tills, so that whoever got there next goes next, not whoever picks the "lucky" line. Otherwise the injustice of it drives me bananas. Although in your case, there was a queue and it was ignored. And I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself. I had a whole speech in my head to give that guy, but the glare was my only response... and offering the people in front of me to go ahead of me when another till opened up.

    And it IS hard to be in the moment, especially on big occasions like weddings. But you do your best. Sometimes you don't realize that you really were there until it's over and you look back. But it will be a good week and a beautiful day.

  3. I hate it when they open another till at the store and someone who hasn't been in line half as long as you have gets to go ahead of you because they get picked by the cashier or they run faster than you. I like the queue idea

  4. It is hard to defer to someone who pushes ahead in a line.

  5. I concur with those in favour of a queue. The P.A. Wal-Mart's new Express line (with the computer voice saying "please go to Till # X") actually works, at least when there's more than one cashier on duty.

  6. it's hard for me to slow down my brain enough to realize how big this all is....I want to live in the moment, savour it, but it's hard to relax about it all and do that.

    I dunno....your post kinda reminded me of how unimportant the details are and how important it is to be present in the little moments of this time. It's a big change, for you and for me, and it's a weird moment too...there's beauty in it, I think, some sadness at the way time passes, and some excitement too, for what the future has in store.

    I'll try and keep the melancholy on low and the hope bits higher, and I'll try and relax...but that's not going to be easy for someone with as many control issues as myself. :-)


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