I get off on expressing my anger. This is fact. I went to the grocery store today to return some kitty litter. I bought it back when I feared that the zombie apocalypse was nigh upon us. In good news, there are no zombies. (Yet.) In bad news, they wouldn’t take back the litter.
And here’s what makes me angry. I went to the Kroger website before I left the house so that I could specifically check their return policy. It said, and I quote, “Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are temporarily suspending product returns on Food products, Cosmetics & Apparel (clothing, shoes & accessories).” Well, guess what? Kitty litter isn’t eaten, worn, or applied.
I didn’t get the bigger picture. What they meant was that they aren’t accepting returns, period. I misunderstood their message, not unsurprisingly. They were trying to cover their bases about returns. A better way to have done that would’ve involved saying they were no longer accepting returns, period. Instead, they waxed poetic, and I got yelled at.
“Hello,” I said sedately. “I’d like to return this kitty litter. Mr. Kitty disapproves of it. He has discerning tastes.”
“No! No! No! There are no returns! Don’t you see that sign right there? No returns! No returns! Oh, God! No returns! Why is this happening to me? We’re all going to die.”
“Yes, I saw the sign,” I said. It said something like NO RETURNS, if I’m recalling correctly. “But I very carefully checked your web site before coming here, and it said something different.”
“I can’t help you! No returns! No returns! Oh Lord, the world is over. Fire, plagues, pestilence! Keep away from me with your unused kitty litter!” The young woman behind the counter seemed sort of panicked. I was on my good behavior, so I guess she hated having to enforce the no-returns policy.
“Can you change your web site?” I asked. “This has inconvenienced me. Meg doesn’t like being inconvenienced.” I raised an eyebrow at her.
“No, I can’t change it. But… I’ll share the message with my bosses.”
“Great. Thank you.”
She seemed relieved as I turned my cart around and wandered away. I bought two boxes of doggie treats at the U-Scan and then left the store with the kitty litter in tow, and thankfully, no one accused me of stealing it.
I’m sure I have a reputation at Kroger. She was probably fearful that I’d start flipping her off and yelling that I hate her, and God knows what else. But she isn’t the woman I can’t stand, who’s been bugging me since last summer. Regardless, I was massively peeved to have been given faulty information.
It’s weird. I have reading comprehension issues, and I always have. In particular, my comprehension is slow. I taught reading comprehension for over three years, so I’m an expert in how it works. It’s just that I have some weaknesses in it.
Whenever I’m at the NYC Midnight forum and I comment on people’s stories, I’m able to use that as a buffer to make it sound less harsh if I couldn’t understand their story. (“This could be my slow comprehension issues, but I’m having a hard time visualizing…”) And I’m being honest in saying that, so it’s a win-win. But when I fail to comprehend outside of the forum, I feel bad about myself. Like I should’ve been smarter. I’m mad at Kroger for making me feel stupid. And trust me, I’ve let them know.
Before the reading center hired me back in 2001, they gave me a rigorous battery of reading tests, including technical reading (phonics, emphasized syllables, etc.) and comprehension. They said I failed only one of the tests, so they wanted me to retake it. It went like this: “We know we asked you to read the paragraph as quickly as you could and then answer questions about it. But… we didn’t really mean to speed-read it that fast. Try it again, and go a bit slower.”
And you can see the problem right there. I take people literally. They told me to read it as quickly as I could, and I read it so fast that I gave incorrect answers about the paragraphs’ contents. Why does this happen? Why do people say one thing and then give a little wink and expect you to read their mind? Especially when you’re being tested for a job and are stressed out and socially aroused? This is my hugest gap in comprehension. I mean, of course I can tell if someone’s being sarcastic. But this is different. I can’t grasp invisible implications.
Then, earlier today, I made an offer on an eBay item of $50. I offered $40. They rejected my offer without countering it or including a note. Just for the heck of it, and in order to irritate them, I raised my offer to $40.02 and wrote, “Just my two cents because you can’t even counter. I’ll take my business elsewhere.” (I’m guessing they’ll reject my $40.02 offer. Or, more likely, just ignore it.) I expected them to counter between $45 and $49, because why else would they make the offer available? (On eBay, you don’t have to include the offer feature. You can have the simple buy-it-now price only.)
I’ve been on the other side of that. I’ve got one person who keeps harassing me to sell him my dad’s National Review archive at a steal. I finally had to block him.
Anyway, my point is that I don’t get past something if I can’t let the person or parties know how it made me feel. I’ve been on edge lately. I don’t think I’ve been getting enough sleep, but I’m not sure. I mean, who needs eleven hours of sleep each night? I’ve been getting nine or ten. That’s more than most people. Oh well.
So after the disaster at Kroger, for which I blamed my own stupidity, I felt exhausted.
Oh, hey, I have fun news. I’ve gotten my dad onboard to do the 100-word microfiction competition with me. I’m going to enter him and give him his assignment and upload it for him, and everything. (He doesn’t use internet.) I’ll beta read for him, but I won’t force him to make changes. It should be fun! At $13 ($2 of which goes to help the coronavirus), it’s the most affordable contest they’ve ever rolled out. I’d love for any of my friends out there reading this to get involved! Join in the fun! You know you want to.