Saturday, December 22, 2007

What's the Mutter?



I caught myself doing it again the other day - in broad daylight and in public. I was muttering out loud.

If it's the season to be jolly, then why was I engaging in the mutter, er mother, of all social taboos? Simple: I went shopping at a big-box retailer two weeks before Christmas and less than two weeks after returning home from my auto stem cell transplant.

You see, I just had to buy two of the enormous wreaths that Costco sells for the unbelievable price of $4.98 each. My friend Carol and I filled our shared cart with a dozen or so items, checked out in record time and then strolled through the final gauntlet at the exit. That's where we hit our holiday snag. A sharp Costco employee discovered that I was charged for one, not two, of the wreaths. She sent me back to square one.



"I don't have to wait in the line again, do I?" I whined. "No. I'm going to send you to lane one. There's nobody there," she cheerfully responded.

She was right. There was nobody there - not even a cashier. I ran back to inform the cart checker and she told me to try again. I raced back and found that a cashier AND two other customers were now at lane one. The cashier sped through the first transaction, but she needed to go to another register to issue a credit for the second customer.

"No, no, you're not leaving me here, are you?" I pleaded like a preschooler to her mom on the first day of school. I begged her to take care of me first. "I have cash!" But before I could fling myself (and my cash) at her ankles, she was gone.

That's when the overt muttering began. "Why am I being punished for someone else's mistake?" "What's taking them so long?" On and on I went. The more I muttered, the unhappier I became.

One thing was certain: I had no reason to fear becoming one of those insufferable cancer survivors who reach an enlightened state of calm and serenity amidst the chaos of daily life.

OK - I admit it. I was hoping that I could be that insufferably patient patient. Or, at the very least, I wanted to be someone who knew when to take action and when to let go amidst the chaos of daily life. Muttering was not one of the options I had in mind.

I thought back to the time in Minneapolis just a few weeks ago when I was waiting for a shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel. After 30 minutes, I suggested to two other hotel guests that we share a cab and ask the hotel to reimburse us. The two business men from Australia placidly shrugged their shoulders.

Was I over-reacting? I decided to wait a few more minutes before calling the hotel. Their response: "We're having shuttle problems. Go ahead and take a cab and we'll reimburse you." Those easy-going Aussies might still be waiting if I hadn't taken action.

And I managed to wait for the cab without a single mutter under or over my breath.

Why wasn't I able to control my mad-woman muttering at Costco? The gentleman standing behind me looked at me knowingly, made a subtle "simmer down" gesture and then admitted, "I was just like you." Huh? He lifted up his cap to reveal a bald head while he nodded at my scalp-concealing hat.

"When I first got out of the hospital, I had no patience. You just have to tell yourself 'It's Costco' and let go.'" My friendly reminder went on to tell me that he was two months out from completing an auto stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma. "Me too. I'm two weeks out," I squealed with the joy I usually reserve for when I find out that my platelets have risen.

Before I knew it the cart checker had helped us round up another cashier and I was ready to go home and hang my wreaths.

Are my muttering days behind me? As a mutter of fact, probably not, but, I'm catching myself in the act and laughing out loud when it happens. I just hope the spontaneous laughter doesn't look as crazy as the muttering.

6 comments:

Lilli said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud. You made my morning, if not my day. It's always good to have at least a laugh a day.

"One thing was certain: I had no reason to fear becoming one of those insufferable cancer survivors who reach an enlightened state of calm and serenity amidst the chaos of daily life."

frankie said...

Happy Holidays Susan, I'm so glad you're feeling stronger every day.
I'm still whining about my sore throat as if it will never go away. I think the holiday season emphasizes our humanness both our strength and our weaknesses.
Much love to you and your loved ones,

Ann said...

I think muttering is a right of passage after all that you have been through. I, too, am a mutterer/spontaneous giggler. It's a very special club that's all the more so for counting you as a member, so mutter your heart out and have a wonderful holiday. :)

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