Trouble erupted at the coffee shop today. It seemed harmless at first. Chuckles was across the street at the Mental Health Assoc. Walk the Walk Walk rally. 200 redshirts made a visual statement, though the speaker’s words were muffled by the noisy diesel trucks that accelerated from the traffic lights nearby. Jake was smiling and chirpy behind the counter, and the usual harmless banter was being banted about.
And then Andrea, the sweet Queen replacement for Krista, came in and began her proprietary duties. She was taping the weekend store hours on the counter and door. Now you need some geography lessons to appreciate or condemn what follows. Andrea grew up in a tiny village in Fulton County called Needmore. It provides for easy comic material, as you can imagine. Well, nearby is a sliver of Maryland and a sliver of West Virginia, the parts of the states that they tried to give away during the Civil War but Pennsylvania would not take them. (This last statement may need to be checked for accuracy at Wikipedia.)
Anyway, since I have been creating a sketchy reputation with Andrea, I asked her if we could start over this morning. She graciously complied, not knowing that I am only occasionally serious. We shook hands and then the Needmore jokes came effortlessly, as if they were premeditated, which they weren’t. Something about all the girls in Needmore being named Andrea. How do get to Needmore? Drive through McConnellsburg and pray. When you open your eyes, you’re in Needmore. Depends on who’s driving and how long the prayer lasts. What is Needmore known for? The annual tristate spitting tour, where for a small fee you can walk through three states and spit in all three. There are photo opportunities and mucus plaques that can be purchased at the gift store at the conclusion of the tour. Jake added, “That is so Needmore!”
Andrea attempted to retaliate with clever jibes. Sadly, she has little experience in interpersonal verbal combat and got hung up in her efforts like a toddler with duct tape. A line of dignity and hometown pride had been crossed, however, and she was gonna defend her people with all her might.
It got heated. Andrea smiled hate my way with squinty eyes. Clearly something more was needed here: Grace, peace, mercy. The pitchers for these three healing fluids were empty and Andrea had no intention of refilling them. She said, “You asked if we could start over!!” Shockingly, she was shocked or mildly surprised. I asked if we could start over again. She said, “No. See what just happened?”
After some debriefing with Steve at my table and Ron bellied up to the counter, taking Andrea’s side in this stand off/ sit down, it was clear that someone had to be the bigger man. Since Andrea is a young woman, I decided that it fell to me to extend the Hand of Peace. I felt like Yasar Arafat as the cool air hit my empty sweaty palm. No shake, No peace. [ Reminded me of church sign boards, “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”] I was not disturbed, though I was being accused of being Disturbed, which was a little disturbing.
Finally, after all the witnesses exited to their productive lives, it came down to just Andrea and me. She said she’d like to be cordial again. We shook. I offered her a free coconut cupcake. She declined. My work was done.The healing had begun. I told her that I forgave her and left before she plunged the scissors on the counter into my torso. And that is sort of how it went down…obtusely.
1. unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim.