Turning Into My Mother


So  last Sunday I had another little confrontation my own mother was so famous for in our family.  In my mother’s case the confrontation was usually in a New York cab and started with her not so sotto voce excoriation of the cabbie for one of three things:

  1.  Having a loud radio which he failed to turn down or, preferably, off;
  2. Taking a side street when he could have gone thru the park or 79th street;
  3. Going through the park when he should have taken Fifth.

Mostly we kids cringed whenever she started in on the cabbie.  Some of the time we feared for her life.  The fact that she was 5’2” and white-haired, I always felt, did not protect her as much as she thought it did.

Cut to last weekend.  I am in line at Starbucks, waiting peacefully for my grande soy latte.   We are in Montecito, a place not known for stabbings or even a raised voice.  Two women in front of me are complaining loudly about their drinks.  Lady A complains her drink has not been made the way she asked.  The baristo (I know they all call themselves baristas but shouldn’t a male one be a baristo?  I think so) dumps out her drink and begins remaking it.  Lady B then shoves her iced tea at the baristo and angrily complains that she asked for light ice.  Lady A adds, snidely, “If you’d written it down when we ordered we wouldn’t have this problem.”  The baristo sighs but doesn’t answer and begins to remake Lady B’s drink.  Those of us waiting begin to shift a bit.  Lady A then says, even more loudly, “You have a lousy attitude and are rude.  And now we have to wait for you to remake our drinks!  What are you going to do to make it up to us?”

The baristo goes to get a couple of drink coupons and hands them to the Ladies.  I exchange looks with several other customers.  Eye-rolls abound.

Now my mother possesses me.

I say, quite mildly, I think, “You know what you’re doing is also causing everyone else to have to wait.”

Lady A glares at me.  “Mind your own business,“ she says appealingly, and probably accurately, but whatever.  “Yes,” says Lady B, “and she [indicating A] knows what she’s talking about because she used to be a manager of a Starbucks.”  I wonder about the relevance of this factoid, but I begin to answer, and what I intended to say shall always remain shrouded in secrecy and the mists of time (mainly because I have totally forgotten it).  Anyway,  Lady A does not let me get out a word before rounding on me.

“Shut the F—K up,’ she screams at the top of her voice.

I pause in shock.  From behind me, someone yells out, “Call security!”  Pretty funny, actually because we are not in a major mall here.  This is a little strip of four boutique shops.

The manager hustles up.  Turning to the Ladies, he says, “You need to leave now.  We cannot have you screaming in here.”  The Ladies stalk out, spilling their drinks.  I hope they don’t know which car is mine.

Immediately I am being congratulated.  One young woman assures me she was about to take them on, except her friend talked her out of it.  I say, “It helps to be old and little.”  I think of my mother.  A man in his 80’s tells me, “You did the right thing.”  I feel triumphant on the one hand and a little like I am going to pass out.  My stomach churns.

My drink is ready and I pick up my soy latte.  I expect at least an offer of a free-drink coupon.  Nope.  But looking at the name on my cup, he does say, “Thank you, Nancy.”

I go home and tell Al all about it. He looks at me skeptically. “You’d better watch out.  Someone’ll pop you one of these days.”

Nah.  I’m white-haired and 5’2”.  They’d never do that to my mother.

What has this got to do with real estate?  You got me.  When you figure it out, please let me know.


8 thoughts on “Turning Into My Mother

  1. I especially enjoyed this story- since I had the pleasure of knowing your mother! However, I think you exaggerate by referring to yourself as 5’2″ and white haired. I’ve always thought of you as MUCH taller, but maybe that’s because you look athletic! In any case, had I been in that situation my blood pressure would have soared and then I would have started cursing louder than those horrible ladies. Sometimes I’m not sure if I don’t secretly yearn for those situations. Great story, you really conjured up Sally, and captured a perfect Montecito scene.

  2. You captured your mother perfectly, and I would know, since she was also my mother, and also because I am mostly white-haired and a bit under 5’2″. I love this story!

  3. Sure wish I’d had some even ex-post-facto support like you got, when I “confronted” a jerk in the Trader Joe’s on Arroyo Parkway many years ago. He was standing behind me, and someone a couple of people ahead of me was having trouble finding enough cash to pay for her purchases (we were in the ‘cash only’ line), so things were taking time, and finally the clerk let her write a check. The guy behind me started to badmouth the woman (in language worse than you got). I turned around to him (he was like a foot from me) and said that the language he was using was unnecessary. He then rounded on me and started calling me nasty names. I was shocked and stunned. And Nobody. Did. Anything. Not the clerk when I got to the checkout, not the other store patrons. Nobody. Later, I was told that *I* should have asked for the manager.

    Good for you!! (And your mom.)

  4. Hi Nancy, I am not little or white-haired yet, but I would have spoken up also. That kind of rudeness and disregard for others drives me to madness. I would have been scared, too! Bonnie

  5. you did the right thing…I would have asked the “former manager” of Starbucks if she would have allowed a customer to treat her employee that way. And then finished it with maybe that’s why you are not working for Starbucks anymore. Have a nice day!

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