I don't try to be a trouble-maker, it just comes naturally. I seem to have a knack for it.
Setting: Baltimore/Washington International Airport
Time: Too Early
Date: A couple of days ago
Characters: the HansMan, the Swampwitch, and the Disgruntled Clerk at the coffee place in the above-named airport on Concourse A across from The Hudson News located next to our gate
I am not a happy traveler at 5:00 in the morning. In fact, I'm not a happy anything at 5:00 in the morning. You can actually figure out exactly what I am by taking my name, Swampwitch, doing away with the first syllable, changing the letter -w- in witch to the letter -b-, and you've pretty much got it. Possibly, with a CAPITAL -B- !
Traveling with theHansMan is an experience in itself, especially when it involves a GPS, a rental car, specifically, a rental car that needs gasoline, an airport somewhere, too much luggage, specifically too much luggage that is over the 50-pound limit, specifically luggage that contains about 2 miles worth of cable. I kid you not:
You can see the spool in the picture above. It was F.U.L.L. And if you look closely, you can see the cable lying all the way down the hallway of the hotel. The picture below is 'furry' but at least you can see part of how much cable is there waiting to be packed in a suitcase.
I'll skip all the four-letter words, and move quickly on to Concourse A. Yes, we made it to check-in with about 2 minutes to spare, through security, and to our gate. Why is it that no matter what the gate number is, be it A-1 or A-50, the gate on my boarding pass is always the one that's about two miles down the concourse? If someone could answer that for me, I'll be forever grateful.
Moving on. I'm not too upset about the long walk because I have these little air bubbles rumbling around in my stomach. Probably from the apple I ate at 10:00 the night before. Note to self: Don't eat apples at bedtime. The walk will do me some good and maybe I can 'get rid' of the air bubbles.
We pass the latte place that has a line of people about a mile long waiting for their caffeine. Since we don't have our official boarding passes yet, I opt to take care of necessary business first and not stop to order a latte. If time permits, I'll come back to the end of Concourse A and order it then, heaven knows I need the caffeine and the walk will do me good. I think I've mentioned that. TheHansMan will be thankful for his time away from me.
Once we have those very important documents in hand, we walk over to the Coffee Place next to the gate I mentioned in the setting, NOT, the latte place with the mile-long queue of people all the way back down at the end of the concourse. TheHansMan opts for the regular, plain coffee and takes up residence at a table there. I spotted breakfast burritos as he is ordering his regular, plain coffee and decided after my hike to the latte place, I would come back and order one of them.
About 15 minutes later, with latte in hand, I find theHansMan still at his table reading his newspaper and drinking his regular, plain coffee. Planning to join him, I notice that the table has a layer of an unidentifiable sticky substance on it. I place my latte on the clean table next to him, grab a $5-dollar bill intending to order my breakfast burrito, a couple of napkins with which to clean the table, approach the young girl behind the counter who is on the phone obviously on a personal call and who does not want to be bothered by me, and I wait until she finishes her conversation. (This is what we called in my former profession, a run-on sentence.)
She walks over, leans on a sink, and says, "Get your coffee off that table."
I think, "Is she talking to me?"
I say, "Huh?"
She repeats, "Get your coffee off that table."
I think, "She IS talking to me."
I say, "I'm with him."
She says, "Then put your coffee on HIS table."
Not taking the time to explain that HIS table is dirty, I ask if she'll get the napkins wet for me.
I think, "A simple request, indeed."
She says, "There's a water fountain down the concourse."
I think, "You're leaning on a water spicket. If you get any closer you will be impaled by it. And I know there's a water fountain down the concourse, I saw it on my hike to buy my latte."
I say, "Huh?"
She repeats, "There's a water fountain down the concourse."
As I pass theHansMan on the way to the water fountain down the concourse, he mutters, "You didn't buy your coffee from her."
I mutter back, "But I planned to buy a breakfast burrito, from her."
He mutters back, "She doesn't care, besides, she doesn't like you, you're a troublemaker."
I think, "But I don't try to be a troublemaker."
I find the water fountain down the concourse, return, and proceed to clean the table.
Little Miss Personality is on the phone again.
I set my latte on the appropriate, now clean table, and start to approach her again to order a breakfast burrito.
From 'over the counter and through the shop,' she yells, "I've called my manager."
I think, "Is she talking to me? ... by now, I assume she is."
I yell back, "Huh?"
By this time, we have attracted several others who have become quite interested in our little conversation. Her yelling at me. Me in my intelligent mode saying, "Huh?" And no one even dares to come close to her, or me ,for that matter.
She yells, "I've called my manager."
I think, "Why, so she can arrest me?" "Bring it on."
In my hesitation and bewilderment, she says, "I've called my manager so you can complain to her."
I say, "About what?"
I think, "Maybe I can tell her you are frigging nuts but she probably already knows that."
She yells something I didn't quite understand, so I asked her to repeat it.
She does. Insert four-letter words here. Any four-letter words will do.
Now, having taught school for a quarter of a century and being fairly adept at diffusing situations, I decided not to use those tactics. I also learned tactics of how to add fuel to the fire in this same profession by observing my students on the playground and some teachers.
TheHansMans cast a wary look my way, knowing all-too-well what possibly might ensue. He began to gather up his newspaper and carry-on and regular, plain coffee and whatever else he could manage to escape with.
As Little Miss Personality and I approach each other at the counter, I was smiling and she was snarling. I actually think she may have been foaming at the mouth just a little.
I say, "I didn't understand you."
As she begins to go into another rage and repeat herself, I turn away, and wish her a good day.
I think, "Tomorrow you might try the other side of the bed."
Looking back over my shoulder, I could see her face begin to disintegrate. I guess this 'conversation' caused those little air bubbles to break loose because I was able to release them from my body, leaving a green fog that enveloped the entire coffee shop. You know the kind. . . those silent but deadly ones that burn.
I'm sure the fog was still lingering when her manager arrived. If Little Miss Personality wasn't foaming at the mouth earlier, she certainly was by now, and possibly gasping for air.
I think, "Wonder if they'll call the bomb squad...the stink bomb squad?"