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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Waiting Room Apocalypse


     With my trusty Forester safely in the hands of the mechanics for its 12-month check-up, I mixed up a cup of coffee and selected a granola bar from the gingham-lined basket on the refreshment table in the waiting room. There was a basket of apples, too, and all sorts of tea bags. It looked like a motel breakfast buffet. I settled down with my snack and my newspaper. When I was about finished with the local news, two very odd-looking people walked in. Both were extremely thin and about the same height, on the short side, and it took me a minute of discreet staring to decide what sex they were. Both wore garishly embellished jeans, sliding down a bit on flat rear-ends. Studded belts encircled both. Ah, one had a yoked western shirt and, yes, I detect whiskers. The other had short, spiked, bleached hair perched above a pink tee aswirl with sparkly bits. Still not conclusive—until a slight curve showed itself on the chest. OK, female.
     Then it got weird. The two of them scuttled up to the refreshments, produced a plastic bag and began filling it with the granola bars and apples, every last one of them. “I can’t believe we’re doing this,” the female said. I’d say she giggled, but her voice was too harsh for that, like that of a lifetime smoker. “This is so wrong!” Um, yeah. A young man was sitting opposite me. We looked at each other and each raised an eyebrow. It was starting to feel like a reality show of the “what would you do?” variety, but the camera crew never appeared. If the thieves had been children, I suppose I would have spoken to them directly, but there, well, you never know what people might have in their pockets.
     I walked around the corner to the parts counter; people on the business side can’t see the waiting room. I told the clerk that two people were stealing all the snacks, while one kept saying “I can’t believe we’re doing this.” She looked disgusted and said “I can’t believe they’re doing it either.” Then, “I guess I’d better get the baskets and refill them.” We saw the pink-shirted creature out the window, apparently having taken the stash to a car. The other was gone. Clerk took the baskets away. The baskets stayed away as long as I was there, apparently because pink shirt came back to sit in the waiting room, utterly without shame, as far as I could tell. She was still there when I was summoned to reclaim my car.
     So, did I fail to stand against the decay of contemporary culture? Or did I do the best I could under the circumstances? Is it better to appeal to authority than tackle such a situation myself? Was I wise? Chicken? Both? Probably.