The dirtiest look that I ever received was in a grocery store parking lot.
I was attempting to park. A store employee was wandering slowly through the parking lot. She may have been on “collect the carts” duty, but hadn’t yet reached the carts. She was standing still in the middle of a big, fat open spot close to the entrance to the store. Her bright orange vest was hanging messily off one of her shoulders and her unkempt hair laid on top of the orange vest. It was raining.
I stopped by the empty spot because I wanted to park there. I put on my blinker, signaling my intentions. That’s when it happened. The girl slowly turned her head in my direction…very slowly…and I saw revulsion itself! Her jaw was open and crooked to one side, her eyes slanted in absolute disgust. I had never, in all my days, been looked at that way. It was the combination of the crooked, lax jaw and the lethargic way she turned to see me that did it. It seemed to say, “If I could demolish you with my eyes, I would.”
I had one reaction. I started to laugh and said, “What was that?!” out loud to myself as she unhurriedly slinked off between the other cars in the lot.
The kicker was that the more I looked at her, I realized that she was mentally disabled. Knowing that made the experience both more and less funny at the same time. I haven’t forgotten it.
See, I live a pretty simple life. I have my friends and my family. I don’t have a ton of friends, but those that I do have I love dearly and keep the drama to a minimum. No going out to night clubs and building just-for-the-moment relationships that crash and burn. On TV, most dirty looks happen at night clubs. No night clubs begets no dirty looks. See?
The theory has always worked for me with two exceptions. The first was the aforementioned grocery store clerk, and the second dirty look I received from a disgruntled employee at our new client company, Pregis. (See post “losing sleep over bubble wrap”).
Maybe I shouldn’t say disgruntled employee as much as I should just say a “disgruntled.” I suspect this lady is angry most of the time and simply takes it with her to work. In any event, she didn’t like what I represented (change) at a meeting we held and apparently glared at me maliciously when I wasn’t looking. A kindly supervisor let me in on what happened later, and I would’ve rather not known.
But I do know. In that moment she let all those around us know exactly just what she thought of me. My usual getting-people-to-like-Kari tricks hadn’t worked on her. What’s funny is that I had been especially attentive and friendly to this lady because she was so cranky from the start. I understand that not everyone likes niceness, but come now!
We weren’t even in a night club. We were in a yellow meeting room in a plastics plant.
(Yes, this is the actual room in question!)
I’m looking forward to seeing her again. She doesn’t know that I know what she did, so I have every opportunity to keep this relationship clean, at least on my end. If she is determined to be disgruntled, more power to her. That takes a lot of energy. Energy that she could dance off at a night club, maybe?