Thursday, July 30, 2009


I had two pair of boxers in my hand and I laid them on the counter in front of me. I looked around for a clerk and saw a young man, with rakishly long hair, in a white shirt and tie, rummaging around on a shelf off to my right. I smiled at him even though I was thinking, "Get your butt over here and make the sale". He looked away, then suddenly he was standing behind me and I realized I mistook a customer for a clerk. Oh, well, no harm done, he hadn't heard my thoughts. I said, "There just doesn't seem to be anyone working in this section." He literally sneered at me and then turned on his heels and took off.

A couple of minutes later I gave up and gathered up the boxers and went looking for another cashier. I found one with a line up. He, of flaxen hair, was there standing back rigid. I was right behind him. Another fellow came up, briefs in his hands too, he asked pleasantly if I was in the line up. I said that I was but was in no hurry if he'd like to go ahead, please do. He was very grateful saying that he was shopping on his break. I told him that this was the first day of my vacation. He said, that "It was nice to run into people who still knew how to be pleasant". I said, 'It does seem to be a lost art doesn't it.' He stepped in front of me.

With a sudden jerky motion the white shirt and tie guy stepped out of the line. There was a display of undergarments, all at 40 percent off the lowest sticker price, off to my right. He stood there looking at one or two of them. Then he lowered down to my ear level and said, 'I'm sorry, I can be such an asshole sometimes. I'm really sorry.'

I was completely taken aback. Our little ugly interchange, or lack of interchange, was certainly not the worst that could have happened. I said the first thing that came into my mind, 'That's OK, you're still learning how to be a man, it takes practice.' He grinned, and for a second I saw what he looked like when he was four years old. I knew I had hit my mark.

He was just a little boy strutting around in his newly adult body. Trying on a variety of persona's. If something happened today that made him put that particular one back on the rack, I'm owed a huge debt of gratitude by whomever falls in love with him in the future.



rickismom said...

Again, you could have gotten angry, but you didn't... you acted nicely to others, and see the ripple effect that this had!

tekeal said...

whenever I have the guts to admit my assholedness, I sure appreciate an open heart on the other side. your gift was huge.

Anonymous said...

'That's OK, you're still learning how to be a man, it takes practice.'

Love that line and sentiment!
Thanks for teach him in a gently way Dave.
I like this post!

Love....Linda ( LinMac)

Kris Stableford said...

I am reasonably sure you ran into my son, Dave! (Well, except for the dress shirt and the tie.) True that we can all be assholes at times, and it takes a certain level of maturity to a) recognize it and b) make amends when possible.

Loved this note!

wendy said...

What a great start to your vacation...the conversion of an asshole into a man! :-) Now that's a days work!!

CJ said...

I witnessed the transformation of my son into a man last week at boot camp graduation.

It was awesome!

Kristin said...

What a great story. It's so nice he had the guts to admit he was wrong and your response was perfect.