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Crooked Pickles

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For a few months in high school, I worked at my town’s McDonald’s.  One night, our manager was in her office while the rest of us manned the fort; little did we know, she’d come to work in a bad mood, one that got worse as she sat in her office.  After a couple hours of going over books as her mood deepened, she finally came out to check on us.  And as it turned out, the first two workers she saw were also our two biggest slackers.  Which made her mood worse.

“Steve!” she suddenly barked at one, making us all jump.  “Steve, quit standing around doing nothing, I told you that checking the bathroom every couple hours was your job! And Laurie – look at those napkin containers, there’s a totally empty one sitting there. You should be filling those!”  She was on a tear, seeing problems everywhere and scolding us. “Kim, your line is too long!  People don’t want to wait!  And Lisa, there’s a spill by the shake machine – when is someone gonna mop that up?  And Ken, you need a hat on so your hair doesn’t fall in the food, how many times have I told you that!  And Phil – ”

She stopped short.  Phil, who’d been making up a line of burgers, looked up at her, startled.  ….Phil wasn’t actually doing anything wrong.

They looked at each other a few confused seconds.  Finally, the manager mustered all the dignity she could manage and said, “Phil, your pickles aren’t straight!”  And then she stalked back into the office and shut herself in for the next few hours.

I’ve been in a pickles-aren’t-straight mood all afternoon.  I head up to the Botanic Garden, on a traditional Easter errand; but rather than reveling in spring Easter cheer, I was glum.  There were flowers, sure, but not enough because it was still too cold.  There were adorable kids running around, but they were all loud and in my way.  There were happy people, but there were too any of them and they were taking too much time lingering over looking at everything and always getting in my way taking pictures and talking too loud and there were too many of them in line when I went to get myself food.

What I’ve learned of this kind of mood is that it really can’t be helped.  It’s not about anything around you, it just is.  Sometimes you just feel like your skin is a thin shell covering over something boneless and squishy, and the only way you can process anything you see is as a threat to your calm.  The best thing you can do is just ride it out.

I left the garden and stopped by a fabulous ice cream place.  Splurged on a large dish.  Came home, and felt no guilt about curling myself up back in my shell, babying myself a little, and waiting for the pickles to straighten out.


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