Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pick Your Battles

I’m at Victrola last night, buying an espresso and half a pound of ground coffee and as I prepare to pay at the register a Christmas song comes on the sound system. It isn’t a particularly annoying one—not “Little Drummer Boy,” at least—in fact, it’s some girl group doing “Sleighride,” but still, it’s February, so I kind of raise my eyebrows and share a chuckle with the cashier. She shrugs back and I assume that’sthe end of it, when the women in line behind me growls, “Ugh, I can’t stand this music.”

I look over at her; she seems normal enough: a typical short-haired middle-aged Seattle woman; she’s got the boiled wool coat, dark pants, and nondescript shoes.

I say, “Well, yeah, it is a little out of season, isn’t it?”

“I hate Christmas music,” she replies.

I still think she’s kidding, so I go light. “Hate? That’s a bit strong, isn’t it?”

“I don’t celebrate Christmas,” she snaps.

“Uh-huh…” I’m starting to get a little weirded out, but I still opt for benign. “Well, I guess you gotta pick your battles.”

Apparently, she has, and now with the cashier. “What IS this music?”

The girl tries to explain that it’s just come up randomly on the shuffle.

“I am offended,” says the lady and the cashier looks shocked.

The Polyanna in me tries to make nice to the customer. “Sometimes, I think you just gotta be a duck, let it roll off you.”

“I am NOT a duck!” she says. “That’s the problem with the American people, too complacent! That’s why George Bush was elected!”

My espresso is now ready, so I take the opportunity to extricate myself from the little scene, sharing a “cuckoo” look with the barista as she hands me my drink.

But upon reflection, maybe the angry lady was right; maybe we are too complacent.

Still, Christmas music in February isn’t nearly as bad as George Bush all year long.


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