I gladly obey the social distancing and mask wearing guidelines whenever I dare go shopping for necessities. I follow the one-way arrow stickers on the floor of the aisles, and I don’t dawdle or cause delays for fellow shoppers. Although the grocery store does not require customer mask-wearing, most of us wear them as a courtesy towards others.
While waiting in one of the check-out queues, I noticed someone who works for one of the independent beer vendors. He was chatting up one of the female store clerks. The worker was an average looking, 30-something man. He wore no mask. He did wear a red MAGA cap. A few moments later, the beer-guy walked past those of us waiting in queues. He made eye-contact with each of us mask-wearers while showing contempt towards us.
I eventually made my way to the conveyor belt, placed the groceries on it, paid for them, and pushed the shopping cart towards the parking lot. I encountered the beer-vendor guy again. He sneered at me as he walked towards his delivery truck. As I placed the grocery bags into the trunk of the ol’ Camry, I thought of the perfect non-sequitur that would have expressed how I felt about the beer-guy’s arrogance.
I wish I would have come up with this snappy come-back to the guy’s repeated smirks: “Nice cap! I know of some swampy real estate in Florida I’ll sell you real cheap. It’ll increase bigly in value in a year.”
Thinking of the best snappy come-backs or gestures long after when they would be effective happens far too often. I’m not alone in having such shoulda, coulda, woulda moments pop up.
Do you ever conjure up the right thing to say or do long after such a response would have caused a scenario to play out perfectly? Do you sometimes imagine satisfying statements many years afterwards, too? Re-experiencing embarrassing or difficult situations from long ago sometimes happens to me just before I nod off to sleep. Why do we often have 20/20 hindsight when we’re trying to go to sleep?
I totally hated seventh grade phys-ed class. I was the guy usually picked last during team-member selection. The most humiliating flub of my adolescence came about through utter ignorance about half-court basketball. My nearly complete ignorance about rules of the game was on full display during one very cringe-worthy play.
I got lucky and actually intercepted a passed ball from the opposing team. I quickly advanced and executed a textbook perfect layup. I envisioned kudos and friendly back-slaps as the ball whooshed through
the net. Seconds later my teammates scolded me for not dribbling back. My basket was actually a score for the other team.
In hindsight, my eagerness to score a basket happened because I very rarely had possession of the ball in the past. I’m not an athletically built nor skilled guy. At that time, I only wanted to prove my worth. It turned out that the goof only verified my athletic pariah status to my teammates.
If I could go back to that seventh grade phys. ed. class I should have paid closer attention to the rules; and I would have scored that basket for my team. I now realize the error of my ways, but I probably would have still hated phys. ed. None of that makes any difference anyway. I doubt that anyone else remembers my personal nightmare. The fact that I still worry about it sometimes, gives me fodder for contemplation today.
Sometimes I remember other things, far worse than an ignorant basketball error. I’ll ask myself, “Why did I do that?” But after imagining all the shoulda, coulda, woulda scenarios, I don’t regret them. I learned some valuable lessons and I’ve met some interesting people as I’ve bumbled through life.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes existentialist philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. “I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations–one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it–you will regret both.”