On Friday night, Boyfriend and I went to Barnes and Noble, because we are two wild and crazy people. It was already after ten, though the café was still full of people studying and talking. I walked by the magazine rack and started rifling through the craft magazines. There’s a British cross-stitch magazine that I really like; every month features a new craft kit that comes free with the magazine. This next month’s will be a felt owl and I really want it.
As I was browsing, an employee asked, “Can you help you find anything?” “Oh, no thank you,” I responded. “Okay,” she said, and she tried to smile, except it came out as a grimace. I realized then that I was bothering her; I don’t know why, since I was not making a mess of the magazines. But I understand; it was late, and she was probably in a hurry to get home to her fifteen cats.
I started browsing again, but felt self-conscious as I did. After not having any luck finding the magazine I wanted, I decided to check the overstock drawer. It’s something I’ve done often – just open the drawer and check if there are any extra magazines. No one has ever freaked out when I’ve done it.
“That drawer is for the overstock of magazines,” the employee said, not in a mean way, but perhaps in a way you would tell a child that 2+2 is not 5. “Those magazines are already on the shelves. I can help you find something if you like.” What I should have said was, “Well, sometimes those magazines are not on the shelves, which is why I’m looking here.” But part of me felt embarrassed, part of me figured that the situation was not worth arguing about, and the other part wondered if maybe I had broken a sacred rule of Barnes and Noble by opening the overstock drawer as a customer.
“Ok, that’s fine,” I said, chastened, and closed the drawer.
I stared at the knitting magazines for about a minute, completely annoyed. Then my inner child whispered, “You should open that overstock drawer again.”
“Stop it!” my rational self scolded. “Can we not handle a situation like an adult for once?” “What do you mean, ‘like an adult?'” my inner child retorted. “You didn’t even speak up, you were just all, ‘OKAY, HURR DURR.'” “She was clearly in a bad mood to begin with,” my rational self explained. “It would have been a losing battle, no matter what I would have said. She just wants me to go home.”
“Which is why you should OPEN THE DRAWER,” my inner child said. “Didn’t you see that crochet magazine that wasn’t on the shelves? This employee is wrong. There are magazines in there for you to look at.”
“But I-” my rational self protested.
“Open it,” my inner child said soothingly.
I turned to the employee and said, “I saw a magazine in here that wasn’t on the shelves. I’m going to open this drawer.” I opened it, not waiting for her permission. “That’s fine,” the employee said, but the edge in her voice made it clear she’d had enough of me for one night.
I picked up the magazine. It was a knitting magazine, not crochet, and it looked like it might have already been on the shelf. My inner child was full of shit. I glanced at the magazine for about three seconds before placing it back in the drawer.
When I recounted this story to Boyfriend later, he laughed and said, “Well, that’s definitely a passive-aggressive way of handling it.”
That’s just how my inner child and I roll.