“I’m an EMT,” says the large loud brusque woman, elbowing her way in front of me at the grocery store. We are standing in the self-check-out line. “I’m in a hurry. I’m going first.”
She doesn’t even look at me as she cuts me off. She is not in uniform. She is not taking some urgent medical call on her pager while trapped there at the supermarket. She is buying a party-size bag of frozen pizza bites and a 12-pack of diet Coke and a carton of mini-cupcakes topped with sticky mountains of Denver Broncos blue-and-orange frosting and a package of toilet paper and the most recent edition of PEOPLE magazine.
Surely, in a emergency, such things might be jettisoned. Were I bleeding copiously beside the highway, I’d like to think the 911 personnel on duty then would rate saving my life higher than scoring the latest pictures of various Kardashian butts and boobs.
And really – do I want this sort of woman helping me in my extremity? She’s obviously the type who won’t take the time and trouble to heat the oven and bake those pizza snacks until crisp. She’ll nuke them in some spattered stinky microwave until steaming and soggy and then eat about 40 as fast as she can without burning her mouth, getting greasy fingerprints all over her glossy magazine’s shocking photos of Justin Bieber’s latest haircut.
“The right of way is something you always give and never take,” intoned my driver ed teacher for the thousandth time (but it was the first time for me, and I hung upon his every word, since he was young and handsome and wore inscrutable dark Ray-Ban sunglasses and I was hopelessly infatuated (Ralph, if you’re reading this, I hope that that past tense doesn’t wound you unduly. The Missy enthusiasms of age 55 are not those she entertained at 17. You had your chance).
I hear his voice still, though, whenever I’m behind the wheel. And sometimes at the grocery store: Ralph advises me to yield my place to the pushy broad with the Charmin and practice a Courtesy Stop (at an intersection with two lanes going the same way, the second car to arrive should hang back at bit rather than push out neck-and-neck in some sort of power struggle. The elbow of the driver of the first car is where the front end of the second car should stop). I’m not happy about yielding to rudeness, mind you. I’ll never reach that selfless state of enlightenment – nor do I want to. I know that bastards and cream rise to the top; I don’t have to suffer it gladly.
I think I’m subconsciously sabotaging my karma by refusing to evolve to a higher plane of soul. This assures that I’ll have plenty more opportunities to mess around here on earth, which is really rather fun despite all the woe and pestilence and war and death and unpleasantness while standing in lines. So I let the boorish bitch win, but I do so grudgingly and gracelessly: No stars in my crown.
I’m enlightened in some ways, though – at least enough to know that the Fair Sex is not the Gentle Sex. We’ve somehow confused the quest for equality with brutality, and become as bad as the worst men.
Then again, equality is not like smorgasbord Christianity, where you pick and choose only the bits that appeal to you (“Those oysters on the half shell may be an abomination unto the Lord, but they look damned good to me”). Equality, I suppose, means shouldering our fair share of the brutal.
While it’s nice to know that the donated organs of 23-year-old Kim Pham saved five lives this past week, it’s not so nice that she was beaten to death in public by three women her own age, girls who probably spent hours fussing with their hair before heading out to that California club last Saturday night, girls who kicked her head with their designer heels as she lay in the street.
Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.
Police have numerous video clips of the assault, since a bunch of onlookers stood around and filmed it. No-one intervened. They raised their smartphones as shields and watched pruriently from the safety of their screens. They lifted their fingers to zoom camera lenses in, but did not lift a finger to help. Real life and real death were playing out at their feet three feet away, and all they cared about was being the first to post the action on YouTube.
Perhaps I should reconsider the karma thing. Perhaps I don’t want to be part of this inhumanity anymore. And (worse), I might just be forced to come back as a Texas woman, with kisses sweeter than cactus.
Even Jerry Jeff Walker might have trouble with attorney Susan Sciacca, a delicate flower who didn’t take kindly to being cut off on a suburban Houston highway last Thursday. Suzie, in a fit of feminine pique, forced the man in the other car off the road and into a parking lot, then leaped out and aimed her pistol at him. Said she to 911 dispatch (gun in one hand, iPhone in the other, shooting a selfie), “He cut me off . . . and I pulled my gun on him. I’ve got a concealed handgun license. I’m a Harris County Prosecutor.”
–and I’m an EMT. I’m in a hurry. I’m going first. Put down the banana and step back from that grocery scanner. Now.
Prosecutor or no, gun permit and special dispensation from God aside, the attorney was arrested for aggravated assault. The whole incident was captured on security cameras – which can’t be blamed for looking on passively. Suzie should have had a few lessons from my driver ed teacher back when she was young and impressionable: Courtesy stops do not involve weapons or rage.
But perhaps she was in a hurry. Perhaps she had a big bag of frozen pizza bites thawing in the back seat, and miles to go before she could attack them.