on university ave

My little college town has a main thoroughfare with many boutiques and retail establishments. I had the occasion today of visiting three such establishments in order to fulfill three basic needs in my life – to read, to eat, and to browse the internet to work.  Short synopsis of these visits.

1. Large chain bookstore. I went in to kill time while waiting for another store to open. I remember a mentor telling me to purchase a sociology dictionary and I also wanted to see if there was a book there that my husband would enjoy. Ended up purchasing 5 items: the dictionary, this book, this book, this book, and a newer, smaller planner than the one I already own. When checking out, the guy behind the counter mentioned how one of the authors I was purchasing was one of his favorite authors. I felt like I needed to say something more than, “Oh, really? That’s nice,” so I said something about how a recent change in my life had prompted me wanting to read the book. Counter-guy quickly lets me know that this author is totally against the change I recently made in my life, and paused as if I would now want to return the book. Has ideology and dogma become so ingrained that it’s now assumed that we don’t read anything that might challenge our currently held beliefs and ideas?

2. Large retail computer store. I already told you about my date with a genius. Unfortunately three dates later I know that I’m really not that into him and want to break it off but I can’t because he has my property and won’t give it back. In a truly stalkerish move, I  went to visit him at his job unannounced because he said he’d call me two days ago and I hadn’t heard from him. He looks at me like I’m crazy when I say that I wish to get my property back as if asking, “What’s wrong with my computer and when can I expect to get it back?” are all dirty four-letter words.

3. Small all-American fare bistro. I wasn’t planning to stop here, but I was feeling rather discouraged by the hijacking of my computer so I needed a pick-me-up. This place allows you to order in two different ways. The first is at the counter where you pay for your food, they give you a number, and then they bring the food to your table when it’s ready. The second is by you taking a seat and being waited on in the traditional manner. The level of service is exactly the same. They bring food once. They walk around and refill water glasses. They take your plate when you are done. Knowing this, I generally opt to go to the counter. That way, when I’m done eating, I can just get up and leave because everything is paid for. Today they were not having it. I was passive aggressively forced to take a table (“You sure you want to order here? Why don’t you take a table?”) and then also obliged to leave a tip. I therefore spent $2 more on a plate of pancakes that I didn’t even finish (balancing self control with wasting food) than I would have had I had the gumption to refuse table service. Which is no different than counter service.

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