This was written for The Red Dress Club, a virtual writer's society.
Concrit is always welcomed and appreciated!
Is there someone who drives you crazy? Someone who really gets under your skin. It doesn't have to be someone you know (although it certainly can be). It could be someone famous. Or even a character in a book.
Now, write a first-person piece – as if YOU are this individual. Write from his or her perspective and include the things that really bother you.
Word limit: 600 My count: 592
I can see what I need right on the other side of the glass. Jolly Green Giant frozen broccoli florets, 24.6 oz. After checking my coupon again, I go to get the produce from its frosty storage.
The freezer doors are much heavier than they used to be, and I struggle to prop the door open while reaching for the top shelf.
A kind young man comes to my rescue.
“Let me get that for you, ma'am.”
“Oh dear, thank you, son. I used to be taller, you know. Or at least I had my George with me to reach the high up shelves–” He smiles at me, but I can sense the irritation behind it. “Oh my! I've kept you so long, and I'm sure you're busy… take care, sweetie.”
Checking my list again, because I just can't seem to keep track of things like I used to, I start towards the cashier station at the front of the store. I scan the open registers for Chet, my favorite clerk. He's so patient with me, and is always willing to run and exchange something for me.
“Excuse me, ma'am.”
I turn around and find myself facing an exasperated mother with a toddler and an infant. Oh dear, I guess I'm blocking traffic… “I'm sorry, dear! Pardon me.” Moving off to one side, I notice Chet at register 2.
“Hi, Chet. How are you today, honey?”
“Oh, hi Mrs. Anderson! I'm good, you?”
“I'm well, thank you. Just a few things today.” Placing my few groceries on the conveyor belt, I place each coupon onto its proper item.
Not wanting to be rude, I recount my items again, just to make sure I don't have more than the accepted Express Lane limit. Twelve. I check the sign overhead to see if they upped the limit. No, it's still ten. Chet is waiting for me, and motions me forward.
The exasperated mom from before steps in line behind me. I notice that she's only buying diapers and a Diet Coke, but Chet has already started scanning my items, so I don't say anything. While he swipes and bags my groceries, I dig in my handbag for my checkbook.
As I place it on the provided platform, I hear toddler behind me “What's wrong, Mommy? What's wrong?”
“Nothing's wrong, kiddo… we're just going to be late.”
“Alrightly, Mrs. Anderson. That'll be $21.68, please!”
“Did you get all of the coupons? I thought it'd be under $20.00” Once again, I wish George was here to help me. He was always so good with money.
“Lemme check…” Chet reads over my printed receipt, quickly comparing the items to my little packet of coupons. “Yeah, looks like we got everything covered!”
“Oh. OK. How much was it again?”
I fill in the amount due on the blank check, before I forget. “And what's today's date?”
“It's the tenth.”
Again, I fill in the date before I forget and have to ask again. I feel bad for the woman behind me; her frustration is palpable. I finish filling out the check and hand it to Chet.
“Don't forget, I need your license number too, Mrs. A!”
Digging in my purse again, I find my wallet and hand over my ID.
I'm done checking out and the bag boy whose name I can never remember helps me out to my car. As we're making our way to the exit, I hear the frustrated mom say to Chet, “Just keep the change!” and she blows past me, out the door into the bright daylight.
Postscript: I wrote this intending to make her out to be that super slow person you always get stuck behind when you're in a hurry; coupons, writes a check, chit chats with the cashier… the more I wrote as her, though, the more I thought about her motivations and what's going on in *her* mind as she moves so slowly and gets in my high-speed self's way. This ended up pretty different from what I'd planned, but I'm OK with that! Concrit is totally welcome, as always!
Ilana @ mommyshorts says
This is interesting. You made me so sympathize with the character that I had to reread it to see what was annoying. And then I realized that you are the woman behind her who just wants to get a move on. I think it was an awesome interpretation of the prompt. Very clever.
Here from your Tweet since the link up isn't up yet. The only criticism I have is of your doubt about this piece. I think this captures the spirit of the prompt perfectly. You made me feel sorry for you (elderly grocery lady). I started to question what was so annoying…this was just sad. But then I had to admit to myself that I would probably be annoyed by this woman if trapped behind her in line. Great work!
Andrea (ace1028) says
Oh, this was perfect. Really perfect, I don't think it was intended to go the other way, the words took you where you were supposed to be. Or you took them, I suppose. As soon as I started reading I said to myself, oh no! She's going to be one of those people we sigh when we get stuck behind! *The title led me to that conclusion!* But I loved how I grew to love her. I think it'll make someone think twice or more before grumbling at the old woman who is just trying to get through her day with a stop at the grocery store. It actually brought a lump up in my throat and could have brought tears to my eyes if I had let them surface. But I am pmsing and all. 😉 Great job!
What I thought was interesting was that because Mrs. A was aware of the fact that she was annoying to people, being little, slow, old and missing her husband, I was pulled me over to her 'side,' and the annoying person became the hurried mother.
How much do I want to reach out and give Chet a hug right now for being so kind and patient.
I know this woman, and my heart breaks for her. Aging is so hard, and the rest of the world isn't very sympathetic, are they?
I liked how vulnerable you made her. She seems so lonely.
Two Normal Moms says
Oh that was good! I love how you portrayed them all, even Chet and the hurried mom. But getting in her head. Well, I guess that's what this prompt is about. Definitely getting the other side of things we jump to conclusions about. Well written!
I like this too, and I totally got pulled into liking her(darnit;)It also made me question how many times I've looked like the hurried,slightly annoying person hurrying everyone out of my way. Probably every single time I do grocery shopping, as I hate doing it and try to rush through it as much as possible!
This is a well written guilt trip:~) I am at that in between place. I'm almost sixty, but I still rush at the grocery store! I've been behind people, like this woman, and not behaved very well.
It's funny to think I might not be very far from being her. It puts things in a different perspective.
I liked the story very much. You made the older woman very realistic. I liked that you introduced the frustration with the first clerk who helped in the frozen produce.
The only feedback I might give isn't actually about your writing, but how it is laid out. I found the way you broke the paragraphs a bit disruptive. Still, I really enjoyed the story.
Thanks, Sara! I went in and adjusted it. It was weird, wasn't it? LOL
This is great! I liked the character even though she was the problem. I am the speed mom too so I can understand where your coming from.
Such great writing, it was nice to read a post where the main character was aware that they were in others way.
great job getting into the head of someone who drives you crazy. I understand!
Don't doubt yourself…
This post made me feel for that woman, I was inside her head, understanding why she couldn't move fast, where her head was at, her confusion with money and coupons, her reliance on her husband. I also understood the woman behind her and her frustration.
Awwww . . . look at you!
This is great!
Elaine A. says
This makes me feel badly for being "annoyed" with the older generation as they just do what they know to do. You described her so well that I had a perfect picture of her in my head and I was the woman with the toddler, waiting on her… 😉
I've been the exasperated person behind this poor woman.
Your writing is great.
And also you gave a little lesson.
Good job on both!
I've always thought that every person has a story and every action some sort of motivation. You did an amazing job of showing the elderly woman's motivation and story. She was so sweet and nice and knew that she was slow. I wanted to beg the young mother to slow down.
Then again, I'm usually late everywhere because I do slow down and chat with random people. Which makes me wonder what my friends would write about THAT annoying trait. lol
This could have been my grandfather shopping, wishing my grandma was still there, though no way he'd have been as pleasant. Good old dementia.
Still, you definitely made me feel for the woman, as well as being stuck behind her. This is probably why I do most of my shopping late at night.