One of the fucked-upest, worst things in this world is people who will yell at a cashier for something that is not in any way her fault. When I worked at a bookstore I got this crap every single day. I was repeatedly glared, sworn, and screamed at for things which were wholly out of my hands: the store's poor traffic flow, the inadequacies of a co-worker, the lack of a biography section, and - this one always kills me - the price of books.

Look, lady, I wanted to say (and did say, to the rare ones who paused to take a breath), let's think this through. The fact that this counter is between us should be enough to show you that I am only a humble subordinate who shuffles books. If I were in charge of pricing books, would I be the cash register monkey too? It doesn't make sense. That said, I agree with you. This place sucks. Here's the corporate 1-800 number, so you can go on record as officially hating this place. I'll call too and tell them you're right. But let's not confuse criticism of the corporation with abuse of an innocent individual. And don't you dare take it out on me if you don't think Pat the God Damned Bunny isn't worth six bucks.

This speech was internally honed to a science but rarely delivered. When it actually got airtime it never went over well, didn't persuade one person to change her asinine behavior, and helped convince my employers I was not worth employing (true). Still, it felt real good.

It was in this spirit that I snapped at a stranger today. There was one lady working at the post office, and she was doing her damndest to keep the line moving, but her computer was acting up and everything was taking three times as long as it should, so the line was backing up.

After a whole four minutes of waiting, the guy behind me let out this exasperated sigh and said, "They sure like to drag their feet in this place. I swear, anything they can do to make me wait in line." The three other people in line all agreed with him, with head-nods and emphatic "They sure do!"s.

Which just pissed me off because it was not at all her fault. I said, kind of loudly, because I wanted her to hear it, and kind of right in his face, because I spun around and didn't realize how close he was standing, "Her computer's broken. She's doing the best she can."

He said, "Well they should open another register. They shouldn't have just one person working anyway."

"Of course they should, but that's a managerial decision, so clearly it's not her fault."

"Well I just think this is really crappy customer service."

"You are bitching about the wrong person. That lady behind the counter is moving as quickly as she can, and you'll notice she's doing it with a smile on her face. What more could you possbily want?"

He said, "You know -" with the snotty intonation of, You know, people like you are what's wrong with this country, except, you know what he said? Nothing. I looked at him and I raised my eyebrows and I waited to see what he was going to tell me, and he just shut up, because I had defeated him with my supreme logic, and I didn't even have to call him a dickweed. But it was implied.

Also today: a stranger in Home Depot told me I was beautiful (Evidently the Home Depot is not just for random furtive homosexual bathroom sex anymore. What makes men ALWAYS flirt with me there? An extension of the construction worker's perceived historical right to catcalls?) and a stranger in the post office told me I was a nice person. And it was true.