He can handle it
Wednesday March 09th 2011, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Knit

Okay, so, 45 minutes later, I come up with the perfect comeback.

I zipped over to Safeway tonight to replenish the milk supply for my morning hot cocoa; in, out, home, was the plan.

There was a guy with some gray in his hair and a basket on his arm who approached the checkout line, hesitated, stepped away to look over at something else just a moment and started to step back just as I was right there now and in his way.

Hey. I was pushing a cart, he was holding his groceries with a two-pieced metal handle pulling heavily against his arm. In my fatigue-centric world, he wins; I offered him to go ahead of me. I was in no hurry.

There was the polite, You go ahead. No, you go ahead.

Alright then, so I did.

And turned and complimented him on his sweater to be nice back.

“It’s Irish,” he told me proudly. (I wasn’t surprised. It was also machine-knit, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.)

“I made one for my husband like that, only, there are no patterns as big as he is so I had to design my own since he’s 6’8″.”

Oh my. That opened the door. The Voice of Authority proceeded to tell me that sure I could, just go to a store where they sell yarn, they have all the patterns.

“Yes, but not that big.” I smiled sweetly, letting him in on the laugh. (Right?)

He insisted there are no new patterns in knitting, just rehashes of what’s already been out there. Those Irish, now, each town had their own. He tried to convince me that they might have been originators but nobody else could be, not now, it’s all Been Done.

I told him I design some of the patterns in those stores (thinking of my book)… (Again with the smile.)

He seemed offended. No no no little girl, is how he came across as he made clear his stance that such hubris on my part was not to be tolerated.

I didn’t argue with him, just let him go on, my eye contact level fading away.  My transaction soon give me a graceful way out–slide your card here–then I turned, smiled, and bid him a good evening.

Home. Put the milk away.  Sat down in the family room. I double-checked the cabled pattern lineup I was starting for the cap of the hat whose braided brim I’d made during my lupus group meeting today, a hat that will be identical to no other on earth when I get done–

–and looked across the room at my piano.

Seven and a half octaves. They’re all there. All those keys were invented years ago. You couldn’t possibly design anything new with them, it’s this key and on up through that one, one right after another, it’s all already been done.

(Ed. to add: I felt sorry for the guy for so needing to dominate that he wrecked a perfectly pleasant conversation. So as I drove home in the dark, I said a prayer for him: easy to do, since I don’t ever have to see him again, and the effort certainly couldn’t hurt him and did help me. Who knows. Maybe the Universe will teach him a little kindness from the encounter. I can hope.)

19 Comments so far
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It’s all been done, and there’s a store that has it all. That could be a great idea for Dr. Who! A Tardis-like store with access to all the designs past and future! (BTW, I doubt Irish grannies knit for anyone even approaching 6’8″, nor even considered the possibilities of hyperbolic knitting.)

Comment by LynnM 03.10.11 @ 1:30 am

Wow! I’ll bet you are thanking your lucky stars you aren’t married to that guy or one of his children! Can you imagine? Oooooo! I shudder to think….

Comment by Jody 03.10.11 @ 6:30 am

All of us have a reason we were placed on earth.

I swear that for some it’s to be a bad example.

Comment by afton 03.10.11 @ 6:44 am

Alison, you have my complete admiration for keeping your cool in a grocery check-out line and not coming back with, “Your sweater is machine made, you know, just look at the seams.” Even if wishing him well doesn’t get through at this point in his life, I do believe that eventually kindness prevails. I have family members who have to be right, and seem to thrive when it creates conflict. Being stuck like that seems like such a burdensome way to live it just makes me sad. I’ve learned that asking for peace for them helps me be peaceful and allows me to move on! The lessons of the knitting world continue to amaze me!
Carol in MA

Comment by Carol Telsey 03.10.11 @ 7:34 am

You are so kind. Not like me.

Comment by sherry in Idaho 03.10.11 @ 7:57 am

What a great explanation though! I’d bet good money you’ll put it to use yet. Sadly, there are too many folks like him in the world. Too bad Richard wasn’t with you to jump in and ask if Smartysweater wanted a signed copy of YOUR knitting pattern book. 😉

Comment by Channon 03.10.11 @ 8:22 am

a smile and a prayer — yeah, there are only 88 keys there, but we all make our own music from it!

Comment by Bev 03.10.11 @ 9:05 am

I had a “little lady” experience two days ago. I was loading my groceries into my car when I spotted a car with it’s hood up in the next aisle. I happen to have an awesome kit in my car (a gift from Clark’s shoes, of all things, in a promo done at my local shoe store years ago) which includes a set of jumper cables. The lady in the car hooked them up (she had obviously done it many times before) and jumped into her car to start it up. A man passed by and said “I hope you have those things connected right”. Just then her motor fired up so I said “I guess we do!” and he wandered off. I’ll bet a million bucks he wouldn’t have said that to two men.

Comment by Julie 03.10.11 @ 9:26 am

The mood I am in now ,would of brought an Irish curse rather than a blessing.(headpains always does this). Ten to one he’s single and will be that way for a long time.Well at least that’s what I hope, could you imagine being a child or a wife. no thanks!

Comment by kristy phipps 03.10.11 @ 9:52 am

You have a lot of grace and forgiveness to cope with these things as well as you do! I hate these encounters–and have them all the time. The “little lady” kind of nonsense really drives me up a tree. It is truly one of those things that ruins my day. Unfortunately, I enjoy the encounters most when I have a quick (and maybe sharp) comeback that puts the older man in his place…

Comment by Joanne 03.10.11 @ 10:11 am

I think it is fear that drives people like that. The need to always be right is a classic characteristic of control freaks, and most control freaks are driven by fear, fear of uncontrolled chaos. They are threatened by change, by anything new and different, by anything unknown. Those all contain the potential for uncontrolled chaos. To acknowledge that my information is incorrect, or limited in any way, is to suggest that I am not completely in control of the one thing I know I should be in control of: myself. That’s a very frightening prospect to a control freak. Don’t ask me how I know!

Comment by shadylady1216 03.10.11 @ 10:12 am

You know that wasn’t very nice of you. By being nice you take away his opportunity to argue. Gee whillikers, you may have ruined his day!

Comment by Don Meyer 03.10.11 @ 10:35 am

Still having fun with your “L’esprit de l’escalier.” Safeway Aran-Man no doubt believes in an “ecoutez et repetez” style of knitting–or whatever the knitting equivalent of “listen” might be. Copy. That said, I LUVZ all the patterns on ravelry but more, I love the notes people add when they tweak a project to make it their own. The way eggs, flour, sugar, butter can turn into a million different things with a few modifications and additions. Probably even a 6’8″ husband (can’t do that with a piano concerto but you can with a chocolate torte–oh, did you use the butter?)

Comment by LynnM 03.10.11 @ 11:53 am

I’ve often fantasized about creating a service called Rent-A-Hulk for just those “little lady” situations, such as taking one’s car to a mechanic. I think an off-duty deputy sheriff, standing just to the side and behind one, with sunglasses and a noncommittal expression, might curtail those “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Lady” comments.

I think I’ll look into venture capital. Such a service is, sadly, needed more than ever.

Comment by Patricia Day 03.10.11 @ 2:06 pm

Alison, the luck of the draw, I bet you’ll encounter this specific person again. And the setting will be even more favorable to you, not him. That’s because (a) you’re you (as in the good word you sent up for him) and (b) you’re right more often than not. I hope I can learn from your calm response.

Comment by sjanova 03.10.11 @ 4:37 pm

“Twit” is the kindest word which comes to mind. There are others. I should probably repent, but guys like that bring out the “J. Golden” in me, rather than the “Spencer W.”

Comment by Lynn 03.10.11 @ 10:44 pm

Ah me. I’m betting he was divorced, nastily. Some lithe young thing with no self-esteem married him, was abused at least intellectually and emotionally, and finally, thanks to many good girlfriends, wised up and left him, taking him for all he’s worth. Hence his need to be right and put all women down.

Since then? Every woman he meets realizes quickly what life would be like with him and he’s destined to be a loner the rest of his days. He CAN’T have a civil conversation.

And you’re an angel to pray for him. I’m not so kind…

Comment by Knitnana 03.11.11 @ 10:57 am

I love the piano comparison – it’s so exactly true. In the end, though, letting go and sending him your good thoughts is probably all you can do for someone who needs to be right, needs to score, no matter what.

Comment by Jocelyn 03.11.11 @ 11:40 am

Even if, say, it’s all been done before, knitting-wise, if I haven’t seen it and unvent it again, doesn’t that mean it’s origianl to me at least? Sheesh, this is the second story, in 2 days, of conversations in checkoutm,lines that went awry that I have heard. Weird

Comment by Carol 03.20.11 @ 3:45 pm

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