I live in a relatively small town. Less than 50 000 people. That size really contributes to the small-town feel of the community. People are really friendly. It is the type of community where doors are held for strangers, smiles are exchanged when people pass in the street, and "please" and "thank you" still rank at the top of the Favourite Words list. It is also the type of community where (sometimes unconscious) prying and gossiping are part of the character.
Today for example. Today marked my monthly trip to the drug store to purchase a 5-pack of ovulation predictor pee-sticks. Not really my favourite outing of the month (the flashing neon sign reading you are still not pregnant that flashes in front of my eyes is such fun...), but a necessary one. It is always a bit of a precarious outing - prying eyes are everywhere. The secret agent in my soul is activated: I take a round about trip to the appropriate aisle, glance around, pick up the box, strategically place my hand over the product name on the box, and cut around the back of the store to the check out.*
6 months ago this was my experience upon arrival at the cashier stand: The cute, trendy, overly-made-up cashier picks up the box and loudly comments "Wow, these are so expensive. I had no idea. I guess it must be worth it though - I suppose I might try them. Well, good luck with that." You can imagine how thrilled I was that, after all of my careful espionage, this girl drew such attention to my purchase. I was also unimpressed with her casual "good luck" wishes. I wondered if she wishes hemorrhoid sufferers luck with their Preparation H purchases. Yes, she was being friendly. No, I was not interested in her tactless commentary on my purchase.
Today's experience at the cashier was equally enjoyable. Upon arrival, the older grandma-type, launched into a loud tirade that began: "there are those that want them and those that don't. You wouldn't believe how many pregnancy tests that I sell to young people. I mean really young people. Shouldn't they be buying condoms instead of pregnancy tests? They are just so young..." etc. etc. Since I didn't give her much acknowledgement, or look her in the eye as she spoke, she shifted into "keep-talking-to-avoid-an-embarrassing-situation" mode (which is always so effective - sarcasm drips). Her voice literally followed me out the door. Fortunately for me, today the store was nearly empty.
The inner dialogue while this was going on was: "Look, lady, there is absolutely no need to tell me, a woman who has buried her only (much wanted, much planned for) son, about the prevalence of teen pregnancy in North America. My Spidey-Senses begin to tingle when I am in within 200 paces of a teen mom. I generally avoid Saturdays at the mall so I don't have to look at the teen parent's showing off their kids, or their friends thinking they are so cool. I don't go to high school functions or teen activities, because I choose NOT to think about the unfairness of unwanted teen pregnancies in light of my experience. Thank you so much for bringing up the issue of teen pregnancy with me - just what I wanted to think about right now."
Despite the bitter nature of that particular inner dialogue, I actually am fairly amused by this society that I live in, where these types of comments are deemed appropriate. How on earth could these cashiers think those comments appropriate? That isn't anger/frustration talking, just utter bemusement.
My neck muscles increase in strength as the never-ending headshaking continues.
*amazing no one has stopped me as a suspected shoplifter yet.