This is a bizarre topic to be sure; its randomness-meter is way off the charts. But, here goes.
The other day at work, a customer was looking for contact paper (to use as a transfer medium in her art).
As she is inquiring about it, she says, “You know, the kind to line drawers?” Then she looks at me and belatedly decides she is speaking to someone so much younger than she that I would have no idea what she means!
(I love when that happens, by the way. I LOVE that people seem to brush away the exceedingly prolific grays in my hair as a genetic fluke and assume I am but a child. Probably what is really occurring is simply they are neglectful of cleaning their eyeglasses or their prescription needs strengthening; but still, it feels good.)
Anyway, as she realizes that in my extremely youthful state, I would have no idea that people once took the time to line their drawers and shelves, she laughs and says, “Do people even line their drawers anymore?”
I simply smiled, told her to look in Aisle 28, and then commented that I personally hadn’t lined a drawer since 1989, when someone had gifted me a lovely lavender-scented lining paper.
“However,” I continued, “my grandmother never met a drawer that didn’t need lining.”
Belatedly noting that I am indeed an adult, she laughs and we begin a little back and forth about back in the day, when people DID such civilized things as lining drawers, and we extrapolated to the final idea that the end of civilization surely was brought about by us giving up such genteel activities as lining drawers.
Happy that we had identified the source of all the world’s problems, we pondered briefly about who it was we were to alert with this momentous discovery!
I went back to the shop and I continued to let my mind wander around this subject. I recalled Sister Jane, showing up for the first eight months of school, her bonnet, dress and shoes a deep, maudlin black. Yet, the Tuesday we returned from our long Memorial Day weekend, there she would be standing, resplendent from head to toe in white. For it was AFTER Memorial Day, after all.
I recalled the little ‘rules’ of my youth in the hedonistic ‘70’s and ‘80’s; and truly have to say that over all, I think that maybe it really is the little things that changed the big things.
A New Yorker through and through, it would never occur to me to NOT hold the door for someone; it never crossed my mind that I was more deserving of a seat on the bus than an older person.
“Please,” “thank you” and acknowledging the person on the other side of the counter during a transaction with a shop-keeper didn’t remove from me the veneer of superiority that seems so paramount in people’s attitudes today.
This thinking occurs because last month we had an elderly woman crash her car into the plate glass windows of our store during the ‘gotta just grab a thing or two after work’ rush. (LUCKILY, the glass was blacked out and walled up, and the space had been turned into an office, and no one was sitting there at the time, because that would have hurt!)
The next morning a customer called, positively haranguing my cashier because of the “inconvenience” she encountered the night before, during the ensuing chaos of broken glass, police tape, fire trucks, ambulances and the building inspector; (who insisted we cut power for a short time while assessing the structural damage.)
Dumbfounded by the lack of concern and basic human decency, what more could we keep repeating other than “We’re sorry to hear that ma’am; we are just so happy no one was hurt??” HOW do you hold a dialogue with someone who believes their unimpeded purchase of rubber cement is more important than the health and welfare of their neighbor?
Or the man who interrupted the customer I was in the middle of a long-ish, involved transaction with to demand my attention. He didn’t want to ask one simply answered question, but to be taken out of turn; to brush off the woman, who with her children was deciding between this and that $500 product, so that he could then get up-in-arms that I wanted to charge him $14 for a custom product that he may need to wait as long at 5 hours for, when our turn-around is two weeks.
It is not my fault that you can’t buy something off the rack; it isn’t my fault that you were not thinking of doing this in a timely fashion and now the clock is ticking away. I’m not making up the prices and I’m not up-selling you for a commission; I’m not even charging you a rush fee. And the woman ahead of you GOT HERE FIRST. And you didn’t even say “Excuse me.” Believe me, she noticed.
In that serendipitous way that causes things to link in my mind, around the same time I was reading a book by Lisa Kleypas, “It Happened one Autumn” and in it the heroine carried on about the silly civilities practiced in England in the mid-1700’s; about how unseemly it would be, and positively horrifying, to possibly speak to a man that she had not received the proper degree of introduction to; of how a young woman would never allow her spine to rest on a seat back; and how unmarriageable one may become if caught eating a course at dinner with the wrong fork.
Last night, the door was not held open for us by a young-ish couple as we were directly behind them with my mother-in-law gimping along slowly; going into a sit-down deli for sandwiches for dinner.
The place wasn’t crazy packed, the help appeared occupied (with work). We sat for no more than two or three minutes, when one of the young-ish couple got up, marched to the cash register and asked for service. The cashier apologized for the delay, grabbed menus, and followed her to the table, again apologized and asked how long had they been waiting. She said, “AT LEAST TEN MINUTES, and no one has come to our table!!”
This morning, as I was going through old quilt posts from one of my on line groups, drawer liner was mentioned….. (this time as a quilting help!)
Do you see the circular workings of my brain?
It all comes down to drawer liner.