Yeah. Gotta cop to something tonite. Had an exchange out there yesterday in the real world; one that truly tested my present reality. My master bathroom has a bulb out, affecting my daily real world clarity! Btw, it’s now been out maybe 3 weeks.
Today I decide to DEAL with it! Drive to Home Depot, locate my replacement bulbs and approach the checkout counters, As usual, most lines are backed up…but the self check-out line can have its own challenges. I choose a line and wait. It’s now my turn. I present my 3-bulb package to the checker, remove my Visa and show him my veteran I.D. He becomes uncertain about what to do. I explain to him, Home Depot offers veterans a 10% discount on their purchases. “I don’t know how to do that.” Huh? “Just scan my veteran ID into your system, dude.” He tries. No joy. Another cashier comes over and tries to help. No joy. “You see, our system changed last year. You must be entered into our system.” Ma’am I come here 2 or 3 times a month! I’ve BEEN here at least 15 times THIS YEAR! I’ve never before had a problem with your system.”
“Sorry. Please wait for a manager to help.” Minutes pass. I continue to calm my impatience down. Lots of time before MNF, Tucker! Yet no manager appears. I notice a cashier of color with whom I’ve interacted before, at three counters over. I walk over and say to him, “You are familiar with the protocols regarding the 10% discount for veterans, right?” “Sure I am. What’s the problem?”“Well…none of your cashiers here seem capable of applying a long existing 10% discount for purchases by veterans. I never have a problem at Lowes. In truth, I’ve not had a problem here at Home Depot. OK? So WTF is up?” Yeah. My temperature is rising…but come on! It’s 2022…and I am seventy fucking eight years old! OK? Even so, my patience is not without limits. I stand near the minority cashier, asking his intercession. The “manager” has yet to arrive (Maybe 7 or 8 minutes, ok?)
And something happens. The next guy in THAT line speaks up. He’s maybe mid-30’s, blue collar, pushing a carrier with lumber and pipes to be checked out. 40 years younger…maybe 40 pounds heavier. So he speaks to me. “You know, I’ve been waiting in line, too.” I notice him. I say to him, “I’ve been waiting in my own line for 10 minutes, trying to receive my veteran discount.” He says, “Well I’ve been waiting in line, TOO!” I turned to walk back to my cash register, three lines away. And he then continued, “I’ve been waiting in line, like a NORMAL person.”
Now see, this is where this post gets meaningful.
I heard him…and I didn’t turn back. But I did pause…And in that microsecond, I felt a long unexperienced yet familiar lick of flame…That unmistakable surge of adrenaline. It always seems so immediate. There was a time (in truth, pretty much most of my past life) that I’d regard his response as disrespectful. You know what? I paused for only that micro-second…pretty sure I did NOT turn back. I kept walking to my own register, told the kid I didn’t need the discount, just charge it and let me get the fuck out of here! He did. I did. (We’d always been talking, maybe $1.70 total. OK? But the principle…)
And I was SO fully aware as I walked out the HD doors, how differently this might have all gone. Particularly nowadays. Perhaps if not for my investment in TM in recent years. As I drove, my mind (as it is wont to do) ran thru permutations of likely responses. Past inclinations might have been: “So. I’m not “normal” in your regard, is that right?” Or, “I am applying for a veterans discount of 10% by HD.” “Are you a veteran?” “Are you aware that in four days, we celebrate VETERANS DAY?”
ALL confrontational! None enlightened. Mercifully, as more time passed I was able to engage alternative responses, informed by my meditative Vedic work with generous guides such as Jeff Kober. I realized that I might have also said, “You know what? You’re right. I apologize.” THAT would have been transcendent! Perhaps in another five years…