Aged Infants

Picture this:

A tall and thin older gentleman, possibly of English decent, is walking around a department store, looking at the wears.  His hair is grey and is long enough to drape over his blue shirt collar.  He is wearing khaki pants and the cuffed hems of the pants fall over his ostrich-leather shoes.

He reaches a wrinkled hand to touch the soft fabric of a black and grey cashmere sweater hanging on a rack and pinches the fabric between the knuckle of his pointer finger and his thumb, is eyes gazing at the fabric from behind thick-rimmed spectacles.  His mouth turns down into a frown as he carefully inspects the sweater.

A woman’s voice comes from over the loud-speaker, slightly muffled, requesting a price check on women’s hosiery.

After inspecting the tag on the sweater, the man nods to himself and lifts the sweater off the rack.  He carefully folds it over his jacketed arm and turns to a display mannequin wearing the latest golf fashions.  He thoughtfully eyes the mannequin, turns, and walks down the tiled isle, past shelves of clothing and other shoppers.  He carefully steps on to the carpeted floor of the men’s suit department.

The smell of the wool suits reaches his nostrils, causing them to flair.

He works his way through the isles, weaving his way to the back of the department.  The scent of the wool is strong here.  His eyes settle upon a navy blue, two button suit.  He smiles and thinks to himself, “that’s almost exactly the same suit I wore on my wedding day.”

“May I help you?”, asks a store associate, behind him.

The man doesn’t reply at first, still lost in his wedding day memories.  The wedding was on a bright, sunny day in a beautiful (albeit small) church.  The sun’s light streamed though the stained-glass windows and reflected off the golden pillars holding the candles on either side of the altar.  His wedding was an intimate occasion, with only family and best of friends present.  Before them, on the altar, he took his fiancée’s hand, vowed to love her and only her for the rest of his life and slid a gold and silver wedding band upon her delicate finger.  That day was the beginning of the rest of his life.

“Sir?”, asks the store associate, jarring the older man awake, flinging him from his memory.  “May I help you?”

The older gentleman turns to look at the smiling associate who is wearing this season’s newest design.

“Yes.  I think you can”, says the older man with a slight smile, his English accent coming through only slightly.  Years of living in America had dulled the accent, making his voice register almost American.  “I like this suit,” he says, nodding toward the navy blue coat hanging on the wall before him.

A child in another department cries, begging it’s mother to leave the store so it can play outside.

“I’d be happy to help you try it on, if you’d like,” says the associate with a smile.

“Ok”, says the man.  “I’d like that.”

“What’s the special occasion?”, asks the associate as he pulls the coat down, off the hanger.

The older man smiles a sad smile.  After decades of sharing his life with the beautiful woman he married, he was now alone.  His wife became ill four years prior.  It was cancer, and though they both had hopes that she would beat it, eventually the cancer won out after the intense chemotherapy treatments.  She passed away in their house, hospice and her beloved husband by her side.

Looking up at the store clerk, the gentleman nods.  “My wife’s funeral”, he says quietly.

“I’m so sorry”, says the associate.

Another shopper walking through the suit department coughs, breaking the awkward silence.

The associate holds the coat up and open, offering the gentleman the opportunity to slide his arms into the sleeves in order to try the it on.

As he turns to try the coat on, the older man nods.  “We had a long life together.  She’s now in God’s hands”, the older man says.

Fast Forward a bit now…

As the older gentleman carries his items to the cash register, he remembers his store credit card is laying on the end table by his bed.

“Hello”, says the associate working the register.  She is a pretty woman, middle-aged.  The older man guesses that she must be in her late forty’s or early fifty’s.  Her glasses hang around her neck on a golden chain.  “How are you today?”

“Fine,” he smiles, ” but I’ve forgotten my card.  Could you please look the account up?”

“Sure”, says the associate.  May I have your name and address?”

The man reaches into his back wallet and grasps the smooth leather wallet.  Opening it, he works the weathered license out of its plastic sheath and hands it to the woman.

The associate notes the name and address on the license and enters the information into her register.  She pauses.  “There looks to be a minor issue with the account, sir.  This will only take a minute”, she says as she picks up the phone and dials a number.

“What’s the problem?”, asks the gentleman.  “Who are you calling?”

“The credit department”, she replies.  “It seems we have an incorrect address on the account.”

“Humph”, says the older man.  “Will this take long?”, he asks, bringing his wrist up to look at his watch.

“Not at all, sir”, says the clerk.  “We just need to get the address updated.  Oh, hello”, says the woman, turning toward her register.  “I have an account here that needs to have the address updated… sure, you may speak with him.”

The associate turns toward the man and offers him the phone’s handset.  “He needs to speak with you to update the address.”

“Oh, alright.”, says the older man as he takes the phone.  “Hello?… yes that’s me… Two-one-two, five-five-five, four-one-three-zero… forty-eight thirteen.”

The man pauses as a red flush begins to cover his face.  “What!?”, he demands into the phone.  “I’ve already told you my phone number and the last four numbers of my social, why do you need my birthday?!”  The man pauses to listen to the person on the other end of the phone.  “No.  I’ve already told you who I am.  I gave you my phone number, the last four of… No!  I’m not giving that to you.  Just close my account!…  Close it!”, the man says fuming, looking like a toddler who’s just been told no.  The man stomps on the ground.  “I AM NOT GIVING YOU THAT INFORMATION!”, he screams, attracting the attention of everyone in the store.

The register associate looks away and smiles to herself as the man throws his infantile fit.  This is a daily occurrence.  Well-to-do people who are normally logical and reserved are capable of acting more immature than newborns.

“CLOSE THE GOD-DAMN ACCOUNT, ASSHOLE!”, screams the man in a shrill voice into the phone.  Slamming the phone onto the register counter, he glares at the associate and shouts  “TAKE YOUR DAMN PHONE!”

The man turns, without the sweater and suit, to walk out the door.  “I’M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!  YOU CAN KEEP YOUR SHITTY CLOTHES!”, he bellows at the associate, his bottom lip pushed out as he stomps toward the door.

What is it about a simple question regarding a credit transaction that makes a person de-evolve into mere shells of what they once were?  What goes through a person’s mind as they (embarrassingly) go into infantile rage in public?

These are people who have lived (what I would assume to be) fairly normal lives.  They get up in the morning like adults.  They plan their day while drinking their coffee in the morning, they shower, shave, get dressed, make sure their children are dressed and ready to go to school, and they go about their daily lives.  These people typically take responsibility for their actions and act logically.

At some point though, some of them become infants.  They rage about in public, embarrassing everyone around them.  Their own children probably don’t even have massive enough genitalia to create the scenes their parents do.

They lose so much control, that it’s a good job most stores don’t allow dogs inside.  These normally rational people would kick them, so keep your children out of their reach lest they be mistaken for a chihuahua.

These people act as if their store credit decides their fate.  They act as if the purchase they’re trying to make is a life or death situation.  They act like animals who should be taken out back and shot.  Of course, we can’t do this, because they’re shaped like humans, they talk like humans (unless of course, they’re so irate they’re speaking gibberish), they stand upright like humans and they even have opposable thumbs.

So instead of pumping them full of buckshot and mounting their heads above our mantles, we’re forced to endure this spectacle with straight faces and pretend we’re not noticing their internal child throwing a shit- fit.  I say we stop.  I say we call attention to these actions by pointing and laughing.  Make fun of them and their in-ability to maintain composure.  If anything, the fit-thrower will either become extremely embarrassed, blush and stop or we’ll piss them off so much they’ll collapse from an aneurysm or heart attack and they’ll stop.  Either way, they’ll stop and we’ll be saved the extended torture of hearing them bitch and moan.

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