At 9:01 a.m., I was standing in a coffee shop in the middle of downtown Vancouver with my dad. I made it apparent that I was a tourist by leaning my body so far over the counter that if I had made one false move, I would have flipped over it. I considered scooting back and standing with the locals, but I was simply too hypnotized by how the barista swirled intricate designs, such as hearts and leaves, onto the top of everyone’s lattes with such ease. Usually, I would classify watching someone make coffee under the file ‘boring,’ but this was ridiculously intriguing. I am used to coffee being poured in an ordinary fashion, directly into a styrofoam cup. I smiled and thanked him as he handed me my drink and looked to my dad for further instructions. “I was thinking we should sit outside,” he said.
I watched as he quickly made his way out the doors and spilled his newspaper on the little black table. Normally, I probably would have run or skipped right out the door to throw myself into a chair if I did not have a latte in my hand, but due to previous experiences, I am not one to underestimate the powers of a hot liquid. Therefore, I took baby steps. I put one boot in front of the other and tried to keep the heart that was floating on top of my latte from spilling onto my fingertips. I was about ten steps away from the door but realized that at the pace I was walking, it would be the equivalent of fifty.
As I neared the door, I heard an overdramatic sigh at the back of my skull. Someone who was in a rush was behind me, and I was holding her up. I tried to step out of her way, but tables, chairs, tourists, and locals were blocking every opportunity to do so. Instant anxiety overcame my every organ. I have never been good in situations where anyone, even a complete stranger, is frustrated with me. Complicating my problem was the need for me to open my own door.
I balanced my drink in one hand and, pulling the door open slowly, I let the rushed lady exit before me and flashed an apologetic smile. She whipped her head around, took a step towards me, glared straight into my eyes, and yelled, “Wow! Could you have walked any slower?” I was taken aback. Here I was, holding the door open for this lady, sorry as I could be, and all she could do was yell at me. She then turned on her heel and stomped off. Watching her exit, I yelled, “Could you be any meaner?” It was a childish and unnecessary response, but that’s all I ever have. I did not have my father around to defend me because he was already outside, reading his newspaper, clueless to the situation.
It was only 9:04 a.m., and I felt like bawling my eyes out into my Spanish Latte. It was then, in the middle of downtown Vancouver, that I realized I have major problems with a fast-paced society. I had let this lady single-handedly bring out the negative aspects of myself that I try to not expose, destroy my peaceful mindset, and ruin my day, all in 180 seconds. But honestly, was she really in such a rush that she couldn‘t wait three minutes? What was calling her so urgently? Her cubicle? Her taxi cab?
I suppose I can’t relate to urgent callings because I’ve always been the girl who tries to release the feeling of pressure from herself by not committing to anything. Commitment hurts. People hurt. Teams hurt. Competitive environments hurt. I fail to understand how anyone thrives in them. This is the reason I don’t want to participate in sports. I can’t imagine stands full of people whom I do and don’t know screaming at me to run faster, be better, get the ball. I can’t even deal with one lady in a coffee shop telling me to hurry.
Besides, in sports, people are bound to foul opposing players. How could you ever place yourself in a position such as that? My external programming won’t allow me to set myself up for anything like that. If one person were to foul me, I would take it personally and wonder for weeks what I had done to deserve it. I would end up assuming she was out to get me and avoid talking to her for the rest of my life.
As I sat down and attempted to make myself comfortable, I tried really hard to forget about the lady who had criticized me. I couldn’t do it though, which made me start to contemplate my inner self and worry about my extreme reaction. I have always felt too much. Constantly.
I knew that I over reacted to the lady’s rudeness, but in my defense, her impatience could have set off something inside me that damaged my well-being. For all she knew, I could have been manic or suicidal. What if I had thrown myself through the window and impaled myself? How would that have made her feel?
Wait, I thought. She’s not the only one who participated in this. I am just as guilty as she, and what if she really was manic or suicidal? What if my saying, “Could you be any meaner?” had set off something inside her and she had gone completely crazy. Maybe, because of the five word comeback I threw at her, she was now throwing herself off a bridge and it was all my fault.
I tried to shake the thought from my head and spent the better part of breakfast promising myself I would never again use hurtful words toward anyone in such a situation. That way, I would never again have to worry that I was going to be the death of some lady I had encountered in a coffee shop. I refused to read the newspaper the entire meal, even though my dad kept pressuring me to do so. I pulled sunglasses over my eyes to cover tears that shouldn’t have been filling them in the first place and said, “ I have experienced, taken part, and seen enough selfishness in the human race. I don’t need to read about it too.” My dad is a man of few words. He smiled and threw me the comics.