I hated him. I did not know him, which made it easier for me to hate him.
He had that look of a early eighties preppie: Marco Polo shirt with a turned up collar, Khaki shorts, round glasses, bangs covering his forehead and hair closely cut on the sides and back of his head. He looked like he could be my age, 30 something.
My two kids and I were in line at the grocery store; eight year old son running around asking me kid questions, asking for ice cream and juice; my ten month-old daughter sitting on my arm cooing and laughing at her older brothers antics.
I barely took notice of the guy at first; he was one person ahead of me and was having his groceries checked by the clerk. His phone rang and that was when I noticed him.
My bitterness toward humanity or rather humanities use of technology increased with the wide spread use of phones. I remember when I was helping out at the counter of a bakery where I worked as a baker. A customer whom I was about to help just had to answer his phone when it rang. I quickly deferred to the customer behind him. The first customer stopped his important conversation in order to ask me why I had the gall to pass him up. I told him that it was clear that he was busy with his phone conversation. And that I would help him when he was done. He did not like my answer or my attitude and insisted that I help him. I insisted that he hang up the phone first. He walked out in a huff.
This young guy at the grocery store was not inconveniencing anyone really; I despise the action of answering a phone when you are engaged in a transaction, I find it impolite. As he spoke I began to despise him for his lifestyle. It was Friday and clearly a friend had called him to find out if he was doing anything that evening. He said he was on his way to some friends, a married couple, maybe even with kids to make dinner. I found myself in a quandary. Here I was hating this guy because of his looks and hating him because he had to answer the phone while in line at the grocery store but liking him for what I assumed were his plans for the evening. I wish I had a single friend who would come over and make dinner for me and the kids. I continued to hate him because I secretly liked him.
The conversation continued he then told the friend that he was to busy on Saturday with work but would love to get together with the friend on Sunday. They made plans to go hiking in the Marin headlands and possibly have a picnic. I hated him even more.
The guy is clearly single and has no kids. He has a good job with enough flexibility to go out with his friends. The friend with whom he was making plans wanted to go for a hike and not sit around in a bar or a coffee shop. I imagined the person to be a woman, that’s what I would have wanted, about twenty-five and good looking of course wanting to get out with this guy. He liked her enough to do something with her that would facilitate getting to know her better. Exactly the kind of dating I did and do with my wife.
He paid and left while still on the phone I did not get to hear the rest of the his conversation but I heard enough to guess the out come, I did not get to see the kind of car he drove but I guessed it was either a late model Volvo sedan, one of those new Volkswagen bugs or a jetta. His CD case contained the Style council, the Jam, Joy Division and maybe even the pixies.
What bothered me was his flexibility, I wanted back the flexibility he clearly had and the money to not worry how it is spent; of course when you don't have kids to worry about you don't need much to get by. I also wanted desperately for him to be an Asshole so I would not feel guilty about hating him.