Wondering About Us
The other day I was training a new hire financial analyst on running a report so I would have a back up should I be absent one day. He’s scribbling away on a legal pad trying to keep up. I launch into the part about emailing it out. As I’m typing, he notices that I use the words “we” and “us.”
“Is that customary?” he asked. He’s from South America and I’m partial to those with guts to learn the English language. “Um, yeah,” I intelligently replied. “I’m speaking on behalf of the department. The Finance department issues the report. Not me or you personally.” He nodded in understanding and made more notes.
It did occur to me that I might not want to take responsibility for this report which is of course also true.
As luck would have it, I hurt my back getting out of bed on Saturday – yes, that’s all it takes anymore – and seeing that the pain has only increased since then, I stayed home today. [Seriously, at this rate, by the time I’m in my 80s I’ll be losing entire limbs just rolling over in my sleep. “Oh! My arm!” I’ll cry as it gently thuds to the floor and then some bored nurse will come in to my shabby chic yet sterile hospital room and give me a pill so I’ll sleep some more and she’ll set my arm on the windowsill as she thinks about what she’s going to cook for dinner that night.]
I made my way through traffic on the 10 this morning to Santa Monica to visit THE WORLD’S BEST CHIROPRACTOR to get repaired. Afterwards, I drove home thinking lovely thoughts of piling up in the bed with a heating pad and some I don’t know ice water? and reading and developing a story idea for the rest of the day. Please note that none of these things have happened. And that’s because….
The doctor fixed my back and I have no pain and I live in Southern California and it’s freaking gorgeous outside LIKE EVERY DAY and I’m not at work and I feel really good so I go to Trader Joe’s to get some lunch fixin’s.
Grocery shopping completed, I slipped into a little beauty/hair product emporium place which is in actuality a vortex of lost dreams about the ability to acquire magic hair and skin but I’m in serious need of a specific shampoo that will strip the brass out of my hair color. This store doesn’t have it and I knew that walking in but I didn’t want to go home immediately and I thought… what if?
It’s a small space with eight foot high shelf units neatly stocked with ridiculously priced shampoos. Seriously, a shampoo for $30 better clean my apartment and find me a hot date with season tickets to the Opera. I’m the only customer in the store. A Latina saleslady with a diamond pierced into her upper lip greets me in a banal fashion as she’s busy doing something at the register.
“I just wanted to point out that we have a sales promotion going on today,” she begins as her hands vaguely motion to the center of the room, “and if you spend a hundred, you get 25% off.”
One hundred what exactly? Dracma? Pennies? Rabbit feet? She seemed rather tired. Maybe it was too much to say dollars. I understand. I’m usually too tired to say anything more than…
“Oh. Okay.” More intelligent replies. Maybe it’s good I have nothing to say. I’ve already been accused of being reactionary this week. Obviously, that person has never asked my opinion on something or introduced me to a sale that’s not really a sale.
“If you need anything, let us know. We’ll be happy to help” she unenthusiastically closed.
My eyes scan the store. She’s the only sales person there. Who is us? Is she using my technique of dumping responsibility on her coworkers? Does it mean if I can’t find her for help, I have to blame the entire store chain and not her for not keeping their word of helping me? Or better yet, does she have an imaginary friend?
I do. They sit and listen to me bitch about my job all day. I would feel sorry for them but they really enjoy listening to me. Bffs rock!
They didn’t have my shampoo and I was starting to feel a painful tug under my left shoulder blade. Not wanting to reinstate everything the doctor just twisted and crunched out of me, I left.
On a side street near CBS, I pull up to a stop sign. I’m sitting behind three or four cars and I can’t see ahead that some moron with a deathwish is going to attempt a left onto Fairfax while everyone else is turning right. I wait for what seems like quite a while (which is probably like 3 minutes in our impatient American world).
That’s when I heard myself say, “What the hell are we waiting on?” Clearly I’m speaking in this scenario for the rest of us that are turning right. I laughed and said out loud to my invisible friend in the passenger seat, “Why did I just say that?… I guess it would be weird if I sat here and shouted What the hell am I waiting on?!” This changes the connotation to sound as though I should be taking immediate action. I envision myself plowing over the sidewalk, passing everyone and dodging pedestrians to make a right.
That’s too much responsibility I decided. We have to get home. Our back hurts.