Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So on Saturday morning Mark and I went to "The Hill" on North Cumberland Street, this small block where vendors come out and put piles of junk out for sale. There are large piles of clothes, tables of knick-knacks, TVs, boxes of tools, junk, children's toys, a guy who sells mostly shoes, some furniture, a couple of bikes, this, that, and the other thing. It's like a flea market, only junkier. Mark's mom has been going there since he was a little kid, and I've been hearing about it for over a year, so being a bargain hunter I was naturally curious about it.

I rifled through the piles of clothes, hoping to find something made of interesting fabric -- even if it wasn't something I could wear as-is, I might turn it into something wearable. But I didn't come on to anything magical, so I let it be. But I enjoyed poking around at all the stuff!

Somewhat pressed for time because I was due at Seomra Spraoi at noon, Mark and I parted ways, and I thought I'd pop into a couple of the Asian shops that are right there at the end of North Cumberland Street and pick up some Sweet Rice Flour for a recipe that I've been wanting to try.

At the second shop, I decided to check out, and as I approached the counter from the left side, there was no one around but one woman who was checking out. She had a slew of items, and it was a long transaction, and I though to myself that it was taking a comically long time -- as she paid by credit card, even the paper seemed to come out of the machine one. line. at. a. time. as. slowly. as. possible. Then just as the transaction was finished, and she was lifting her bags off the counter, I noticed this man to the left of me edging in with a bag of little brown pods. He was a thin, fair-skinned Irish man, about 42 years of age, medium height, with bad posture.

Now, admittedly, the way people "queue up" here is different than in America, and I'm still getting used to it. People tend to line up to the side rather than one behind the other. But when I approached the counter, I walked up from the left, so I know that he wasn't there. But he had just the one item, and I wasn't terribly concerned, just a little... surprised at his gall. So I said, "That's nice," as he aggressively put his item on the counter, clearly knowing he was cutting me off.
"I was here first!" he very nearly shouted at me, "And you would know that if you weren't so BLIND!" He turned around to face me and flashed this look of pure hatred. I was so surprised at the venom in his reaction that I simply started laughing. Then the man behind him spoke up and said, "Actually sir, she was ahead of you. She was there when you came up."
"She was not!" The man yelled. "I have been waiting here for ages! And she would have seen that if she wasn't such a stupid, STUPID woman!" By this time his transaction was over, and he was beside himself with anger, but I was still laughing and hadn't said one word since my initial "That's nice." So I said, "Have a nice day!"
"You don't have a nice day!" he yelled. "You have a very BAD day!" With this he walked up to me and put his face very close to mine, virtually poking me with his eyes. I noticed that in his fury he'd dropped some change, so I thought I would have a little more fun and really kill him with kindness.
"You dropped some money there," I informed him, pointing to the floor.
"You and the devil can keep it!" he shouted, and stormed out of the shop, leaving guy behind the counter, the other guy in line, and me looking at each other in total bewilderment. The odd thing of it is - I only had two small items, and I was paying cash. My transaction took all of thirty seconds.

But Mark had a theory that it was not the man's perception that he was ahead of me in line that infuriated me so much, but rather the fact that I didn't follow the "rules" of queuing up properly. I was a "blind" and "stupid" woman for not knowing that the line starts off to the side, to the left, and not directly behind the person at the counter. My ill-placed personal space created an inexcusable faux-pas to which anger and dismay was the only answer (at least, in this man's mind).

I was a little scared to go about the business of the rest of my day, feeling like I'd just had a hex put on me, and considering I was volunteering at Seomra Spraoi and then going to my in-law's house, a lot could have gone wrong. But as it happened, I had a fine day. I did get soaked on my bike, but that only made getting home with a bottle of cognac all the sweeter.


  1. I love it! I can totally picture your face... little nervousness in the laugh... zygo smile... then lifting one eyebrow with an almost imperceptable shake of your head, then the way you kinda look up and to the corner a little bit like, "well...alrighty then." Glad you're okay though!!

  2. the guy was obviously crazy, social norms had nothing to do with it.

  3. See, now, I would have been inclined to agree, if I hadn't been living here for a couple of months now and seen how people are about "rules." And other than being irately pissed off, he didn't have the crazy look about him that crazies have. You'll have to trust my assessment (or not!) on this one.

    Mistaken, yes. Crazy, I don't think he was. Not by Irish standards anyways! haha.