It was one of those busy times at the Wawa.
The parking lot was full, people filled the store, each person crisscrossing the store looking for their mid-morning pick-me-up to get them moving for their day.
I had my bottle of water and pre-made sandwich wrap that I grabbed from the deli case and walked over to the check-out line.
I got behind a young lady who had a couple of items in her left hand, while her right hand was holding her cell phone, which was up to her right ear. She was talking away. She was rather loud.
Without eavesdropping in the least, I could tell this gal was speaking with someone about a party last night and how much alcohol she consumed.
(Hey! Whatever happened to people having private conversations? Why must all of us hear your phone conversation? Couldn't this wait `til you were outside or in your car or something?)
The line moved up, and it was her turn at the register. The problem was, she was paying more attention to her phone than what was happening in front of her. She had no payment out and ready, no cash or credit card in hand.
The cashier said the total.
The cashier said the total again.
Nothing happened again.
The cashier looked at the woman, then looked at me.
Uh, oh. I felt my mouth opening. I felt words coming from my brain to my tongue.
I was able to hold back. I counted to three in my head.
Then, I spoke out.
By the way, I often speak loud, especially when I'm agitated.
I spoke, loud enough for probably half the store to hear me.
She heard me, even though her cell was pressed to her ear, she heard me speak.
She heard me say, "Come on, man, put the phone down, we're all waiting behind you."
She whirled and turned around, pulled down her phone (yay!), and yelled at me, "What did you say?"
Before I could answer she said, "How dare you call me a man! I'm not a man, I may have short hair, but I am not a man! Do you know what year this is? Have you ever heard about pronouns and what's acceptable to call a person these days? How dare you! How dare you!"
I could feel the whole store stop and listen. You could hear a pin drop. Deadly quiet.
I felt my face turning red with embarrassment.
"I'm so sorry", I finally said. "I'm so sorry."
"You should be! How dare you call me a man! I am not a man!"
At that point, she pulled out her credit card and stuck it into the machine. (yay!)
In what seemed like an eternity of awkward silence, the transaction dinged through, she grabbed her stuff, stopped, turned around and glared at me again, and started walking away.
At that moment as the cashier was ringing up my purchase, I processed everything she said, then it hit me.
She was wrong. I didn't say, "Come on man....." I said, "Come on ma'am."
At that instant, I thought about calling after the woman to correct her, but then I realized saying that I said "ma'am" might not have been any better....