Friday, January 02, 2009

Class Warfare in the Washroom Line

Longtime readers, friends, and that checkout lady at Macy’s all know one thing: I spend a lot of time scrapping with people who blame me for their own poor manners. New Year’s Eve was no exception.

I don’t like to go to bars on New Year’s Eve. It's a soup of amateurs, drunkards, morons, crowds, and idiots. But I made an exception, and trudged up to Cleveland Park.

All was well until about 1:00, when it felt like time to leave. I decided to hit the washroom one more time before grabbing a cab. I arranged myself in the (rather long) ladies’ room line, chatted with my neighbors, and patiently waited for my turn.

When I was nearly to the front, a woman stepped in front of me and brusquely said, “I’m next.”

What happened next comes down to this: I don’t like bullies. I hate them, actually. While there will always be people who bulldoze and tantrum their way through life, I do have the option of (politely) not putting up with it. And, yes, cutting in line is a petty offense, but I’d already waited for some time and nature’s call had become more of a bellow. Also, you did know that I'm not perfect, right?

Me: Excuse me? I’m sorry, I didn’t see you in line.
Her: I was waiting over there. *gestures in general direction of…elsewhere in the bar*
Me: Well, the rest of us were waiting patiently in a line. Why not just join us and wait your turn?
Her: blah blah blah…(as hard as I tried to listen, her tone made me think I was in Mean Girls. Perhaps I had worn pink on the wrong day?)
Me: Please, just wait your turn.
Her: You know, I can tell you’re from here. Because only in DC would anyone actually care about this. You’re a privileged D.C. b*tch.
Me: *open-mouthed, dripping with pity and consternation, Miss-Manners-approved stare*

At this moment, the ladies’ room door opened, and a woman gestured to me and said, “Your turn!” (Victory One) Then the crazy lady’s friend dragged her off, scolding her under his breath (Victory Two).

As I returned to my table, I thought through a myriad of responses, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and ranked them from worst to best.

1. “Actually, I’m a single mother of a special needs child, and I teach the third grade in Anacostia. I grew up in a dirt shack in Kentucky with six sisters, and we had to take turns wearing the shoes.”
Benefit: HA!
Drawback: Not even remotely true.

2. *POW*! (punch to face)
Benefit: Well-deserved.
Drawback: No need to kick off the New Year at the police station.

3. “Yes, I’m privileged to be the sort of person who actually waits her turn and treats others with respect, instead of bullying and insulting her way through life. Also, may I point out you’re carrying a rather expensive-looking handbag?”
Benefit: True. Also, funny, if a bit prissy.
Drawback: A potential *POW* from her to me. Yet again, kicking off the New Year at the police station.

4. “Here’s a copy of my award-winning inspirational autobiography, Dead Dogs and Outlet Malls. The inscription says, ‘Take THAT, beeyotch.’”
Benefit: Perhaps she’d learn something? Also, HA!
Drawback: First I’d have to write an award-winning inspirational autobiography. Also, I don’t need to rattle off my life story to a total stranger when I haven’t done anything wrong, anyhow.

5. “Thank you for pointing out my bourgeoisie shortcomings, Comrade. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”
Benefit: It would have been really fun to say that.
Drawback: It would totally fly over her head. Which, come to think of it, may be a benefit. Perhaps I could have swapped it for some French Revolution propaganda?

In the end, the pitying glare was probably the best solution. I know myself, and I do know I’m privileged in many ways. I grew up in a safe neighborhood, among books, in a family that valued education. Food was nutritious, home-cooked, and plentiful. I went to excellent public schools (and one extremely gnarly private one). But I don’t think of myself as that stereotypical (and mostly mythical) “privileged DC b*tch.” I imagine that sort of person has the self-awareness of a tiny asteroid, does not home-dye her hair, and definitively did not grow up in Woodbridge.

So, once I’d dusted off the initial shock and hurt from my bully run-in, it was all really very funny. But next time I go out on New Year’s Eve, I’m taking a marshmallow gun. Look out, line-jumpers! You're about to become human s'mores.


charlotteharris said...

I dunno, a non-privilidged DC b*tch woulda just given her a swirly!

Shannon said...

...or an atomic wedgie. Extra-atomic.

Tina said...

my inital resonce was very grade school - takes one to know one, eh?

suicide_blond said...

oh thank goodness!!! for a second i thought this post was gonna be about me feeling you up!
happy new year kiddo!!!

Shannon said...

Tina - I'm rubber, you're glue!

Blond - Oh, that was a highlight for my headlights.

freckledk said...

Oh, she's lucky I wasn't there when that happened. I'm scrappy after a few bourbons (and vodkas, and tequilas).

Was she the attention whore dancing on the bar at 12:02am?

Shannon said...

Frecks - Someone was dancing on the bar? I must have blocked that out. Yowza.

I did have to prevent J. from tracking her down and telling her off, though.

LiLu said...

I've always wanted to get into a bar fight, just once. (Sigh) if only...

Btw, if you gave her a super atomic wedgie, chances are she wouldn't have needed the bathroom anymore. Win win!

Lemmonex said...

I always think of wonderful things to say after I walk away. Usually the stare is all you need--and the woman having your back helped. Two claps for her too.

hoyden said...

I've almost been in a bar fight (someone stepped in to break it up before dude actually hit me). I don't recommend it.

And I just wonder, why are you the "privileged b*tch" when she's cutting in line? That's why I spent NYE at a house party.

Did you wear The Dress?

Shannon said...

LiLu - The only problem with bar fights is that you need to pick a place you don't intend on returning to. Trailer shack in Oklahoma? Swing away. Local bar where your friends are regulars? Not so much.

Lem - I almost hugged that lady. She gave me the world's biggest grin, then ceremoniously swung the bathroom door wide open.

Hoyden - Nah, too cold for the Dress, or, really, any dress. I went for the (admittedly overly safe) cute top/jeans combo.

Daniel said...

Do people from other areas tolerate line jumping? Though I am a native, I can think of more than a few other regions/cities where option 2 (*POW*) would have been among the first responses.....

Malnurtured Snay said...

Seriously, you should've just punched her in the face. Who is she to skip waiting in line, and then when she can't cut, to go calling someone else privileged?

Malnurtured Snay said...

PS - If she ever heads up to Baltimore, she'd totally get a 9mm in the face for that.

WordNerd said...

So everyone *not* from D.C. would just smile and gesture for her to rush into the bathroom first? The rest of us are humble pushovers?

Yeah, I'd like to see her pull that in Detroit.

Shannon said...

Daniel - I don't know, maybe she thought DC people are especially uptight because we stand in orderly lines, instead of just milling about. Only place I've really seen the milling-about method is Colombia.

Snay - Unfortunately, I'm almost ridiculously nonviolent. I'm assertive, sure, but I don't yell or punch. Even when it's richly deserved, because I think once you resort to insults or violence, you've lost.

WordNerd - Maybe she was from Beer Logic Land, where nothing makes sense and the persecution complex runs high. Who knows?

Malnurtured Snay said...

Shannon - you might've lost the proverbial moral high ground, sure, but you'd for sure have gotten in the bathroom first while the lady was holding her bloody nose. Rock on, violence!

Shannon said...

Snay - Or she'd have me booked for assault, which is terribly time-consuming.

bh said...

I hate to belabor an already made point, but this is what you get for going out on New Year's Eve. I, on the otherhand, nearly tripped over the dog while cooking New Year's Dinner.

I nearly jacked that canine UP!!

(O.K., Not really).

Katherine said...

“Thank you for pointing out my bourgeoisie shortcomings, Comrade. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”

I am memorizing that to use in the future. Do you have literature I can hand over as I say it?

Shannon said...

bh - Oh, I know, I know. But my friends were there and it was still a fun evening.

Katherine - Sure. It's a guidebook, "How to Pee Like the Proletariat."

brandonsavage said...

This is perhaps the funniest thing I've read all year. :-) Thanks for sharing.

zandria said...

WHAT????!!!! That's insane. Good for you for standing up to the bully!!!

Shannon said...

brandon - All one week of this year?

Zan - Is it so bad to admit that it was sort Man, I hate bullies.

brandonsavage said...

I was hoping you wouldn't notice. ;-)