People Should Just Be Quiet When Standing In Line

So, last week I decided to reward myself for enduring yet another week of pregnancy by going to Starbucks on Friday afternoon. I firmly believe in rewarding oneself for feats of perseverance. (Yes, perseverance. Between the heartburn, aching hips, facial acne, fetal kicks to the bladder and lack of alcohol, I feel damn right entitled.) And so off I went, happy as can be to fetch myself something rich and indulgent. I took my place in line, patiently waiting for the barista to get to me so that I could order a Cheese Danish AND a large Strawberries & Crème Frappucino. (You can close your dropped jaw now and before you rush to judgment, remember that this was meant to be a REWARD and I’m pregnant so I should be pitied and I’ll be on a miserable diet as soon as the baby comes and also, since you’re reading this blog you should be inclined to be on my side on all matters.) So, anyway, I’m patiently standing in line when a mother and her daughter of about 5 years of age join the line right behind me. The following conversation ensues between them: 

Mother: Do you see anything healthy here?

–          As soon as these words escaped her lips, I was pissed off. Here I was, about to fling myself into frappucino-danish ecstasy and she was bringing up the H word? I had a good mind to give her a Hot slap. 

5 yr old: Noooo, not really.

–          I kid you not people. The little horror of a child actually studied the display case for a few minutes before declaring that all pastries therein (including MY CHEESE DANISH) were unfit for consumption. Now, of course I knew that my beloved cheese danish wasn’t the healthiest thing on earth but I didn’t need to HEAR IT from a 5 yr old!

Mother: Well, maybe you can reeeeally spoil yourself today and get a Rice Krispie Treat. But mommy will just have some of yours coz mommy has *slaps hips*.  

–          Now, CLEARLY, ‘spoil yourself’ means different things to different people. This tiny girl and her skinny mother, who looked to be at most a size 4, were actually debating over “treating” themselves to a shared Rice Krispie Treat while there I stood, at size 100 with my stomach peeping from underneath my t-shirt (thanks to yet another tummy growth spurt) about to order NOT JUST a Cheese Danish but a Crème Frappucino to boot! And what did she mean slapping her hips? Yeah woman, you have hips. We all do, it’s part of our anatomy and eating won’t change that.

 The last thing I wanted was to be a cautionary tale told every night to the little girl, “Remember the giant pregnant woman who ordered ALL those unhealthy things at Starbucks…”  And so with a heavy heart, when the barista finally got to me, I ordered a slice of banana nut bread (FYI Miss Know-It-All 5 yr old: Banana = Fruit = Healthy. So there) and a soda.

I know, I know… I suck. I should’ve been like So, what? and gotten the danish –frappacino combo but I’m a wimp. And all wimps deserve to be shot at sunrise (along with people who enjoy going to the gym). Putting the question of wimpiness aside for a moment though, I do feel like the moral of this story is that people should just be quiet when standing in line.  

Too random? Probably.

I often wonder if my husband secretly suspects that I’m mad. Sometimes, I manage to surprise even myself with how random I can be. Take Tuesday morning for instance. He had just kissed me goodbye and was about to head out to work when just as he reached for the door handle, I told him that I wanted a pet turtle. Now, the thought of owning a pet turtle has been on my mind for some time now but I have no idea why I chose this particular moment to tell him this. A turtle? he asked (and let go of the door handle as he no doubt realized that this was a conversation that I intended to have right there and then, whether he was late for work or not). Ya, a turtle. Not a tortoise? No! A small turtle that I can keep in an aquarium. But turtles grow big and can get as big as tortoises. No they don’t, you can get miniature turtles that you can keep in aquariums and they won’t grow big. (I have no idea about the validity of this last statement, I honestly pulled that bit of info out of my a*s. At this point however, all I wanted to hear was that it was a great idea and that I should go right ahead and get one) Well, I’ve only seen huge turtles, he persisted. Ya, but I saw on TV this one lady who had a small pet turtle that she kept in an aquarium and it was so cute… but the only thing is that turtles live for so long which means that when we move to Kenya we’ll have to leave it here.  We can take it with us. (The sweetness of his response was completely lost on me at that moment. But thinking about it now, the poor man was actually offering to fly this imaginary pet turtle of mine to Africa! All this time by the way, he was standing patiently at the door, waiting for me to release him). No way! Take it with us and pay for its flight? Plus it will be in an aquarium! But maybe we can just wait until we move back home and then we can go to Mombasa and find one in the ocean. (Because there are just thousands of miniature turtles floating along the shores of the Indian Ocean) Okay fine then. That’s something that you can do with your daughter.  -> Having nothing else to say on the matter and feeling adequately pacified with the prospect of making a trip to the Indian Ocean in several years’ time to find my pet turtle, I bid him adieu and he left for work. 

He must think that I’m a complete nut. Or maybe he’s used to me now. I don’t know. I never think about it long enough to ask. But every now and then, I wonder.

So, what do you do?

You have no idea how frequently the topic of occupation comes up in casual conversation until you have no occupation to speak of. I have increasingly come to dread meeting new people because the question of what I do for a living will undoubtedly come up within the first few seconds of dialogue.  The typical tête-à-tête usually goes as follows:

Me: Hi, I’m Shiko.

Idiotic Stranger: Hi, I’m (insert idiotic stranger’s name here), nice to meet you. How do you know so-and-so?

Me: Oh, we went to school together in Kenya, how about you?

Idiotic Stranger: blah, blah, blah.

Me: And do you live here in the city? (By this time my mind is frantically thinking of ways to steer this conversation away from the inevitable employment query. I could care less where this guy lives. All I want is to retreat from this conversation with some measure of dignity still intact. I’m trying to think of another question before he does but my stupid brain, having been dormant all day after another reality TV marathon, will not cooperate. Beads of sweat have already begun cropping up all over my forehead and the only thing going through my head is Oh Crap, oh crap…)

Idiotic Stranger: So, what do you do?

Me: (CRAP! Now, how should I answer this? I could say that I do nothing and laugh it off but that might just make him feel awkward. I could give him my life story in a manner that evokes a sympathetic and slightly condescending response like, ‘I’m sure you’ll get back on your feet again.’ Yuck. Or I could use the pregnancy and pretend that this was the plan all along — because I’m just so awesomely maternal like that. In the midst of my panic and despair, I usually mumble a variation of the following reply…)

Well, I’m a recent casualty of the economic crisis and with a baby on the way, I’ve decided (Decided? Yeah, right.) to take a break from the workforce. How about you?

Idiotic Stranger: I’m the V.P. of Marketing at XYZ.

Me: (Screw you! But instead I say…) That’s great. I love their stuff!

Why does the job question come up so soon during introductions? What does what I DO have to do with who I AM? Granted, there are some occupations that can give some indication of personality type e.g. lawyer, nun, fashion designer. But even those are just stereotypes; I’m quite positive that there are non-confrontational lawyers, bitchy nuns and boring fashion designers. Majority of people have obscure administrative jobs that do nothing to reflect their personalities. Yes, I’m talking to you Ms. Database Manager. If anything, all this question does is allow people to estimate which income bracket someone else most likely fits into…which is fine if you’re trying to decide who to invite to your baby shower (ka-ching! Just kidding! Kind of.) but otherwise you’re better off asking what someone’s favorite clothing brand is. My point being that the, ‘So, what do you do?’ question should not be one of the first questions to ask when getting to know an individual because it is quite ineffective as a character assessment tool.

Yes, my recent transition out of the workforce is probably making me touchier about this than I should be. Maybe it will get better when I can say ‘I’m a housewife’ in a less defensive/amused tone (right now, depending on my frame of mind, I either say it like I’m DARING someone to call me a loser or like I’m about to burst into laughter). Whatever the case might be, at this moment I am convinced that ‘So what do you do?’ is the dumbest question. Ever.