Today was my first day having to be at work at 6am. Not insanely early, but not exactly my favorite hour of the day.
So this morning, half out of needing to wake up and half to make my throat feel better, I decided to stop at a nearby gas station on the way to grab a cheap cappuccino.
So I grab my drink, and grab a muffin after suddenly remembering it would be a while till break time… and go to the cash registers.
Now, this gas station chain has a setup that’s a bit different from others. They have an L shaped counter, with 3 registers, basically one at each corner. Then they have a line at each side of each register… so up to 6 people waiting against the counter… and leave all three registers open so that however many workers they have can bounce around when someone is writing a check or something else that creates a pause.
So, between the middle register and the end one on each side, there is an open counter space where two people are next to each other.
And so that’s where I was standing… while the cashier rang up some lottery tickets on the far register… when I looked up and noticed that the person standing next to me was my former stepmom.
She and my dad broke up when away at college, and she didn’t even come to his funeral… so the last time I’ve seen her would have been either Christmas break of 1997 or spring break of 1998.
I didn’t even know she still lived in the area… actually maybe she didn’t for a while, but her daughter still did as of a few years ago.
I just stood there…silently shocked… and the only thing came to my mind was “You still exist?”
Ok, so of course I knew she existed… but it was just such a weird disconnect.
After my dad’s funeral, my brother had made a comment that if she’d shown up he’d have had a few things to say to her with dad not around… and I had a few I would have added myself. Where as most of my mom’s relationships were at worst just tolerant of us kids, this lady pretty much did her best to drive a wedge between us and my dad any way that she could.
Yes, I know… I’m probably attributing move evil to her intentions than may have really been there… and there was a lot that my dad should have done to step in on our behalf that didn’t happen.
But when you tell a 16 year old and a 14 year old that are supposed to have Christmas with their dad that they can’t see him anytime that weekend because you want it to be a special time for your kids (who would have been 14 and 13 or so, and lived with them full time)…
then when we do see him two weekends later we get $5 gift certificates “from him” written in female writing with my name spelled wrong, while her kids show off the $200 boomboxes they got “from him“ that she later brags about picking out the best? (Mom was in nursing school at the time… not an other income question… and she’s made it pretty clear that she was the one who chose their gifts from him at the very least… if not outright bought them for him)
And how our bedroom got turned into her ”sewing“ room too…. then to just her sewing room… and then the closet-type space under the eaves where our folding beds had been moved got turned into a room for her exercise stuff that never got used… and then our folding beds disappeared completely because her older daughter borrowed them for camping and kept them (even though they were dads originally), but she didn’t want the couches to get messed up from people sleeping on them… so that we slept on the floor about twice and then were told we couldn’t stay overnights at all… And then to being told that they were just too busy to have ”company“ most weekends…
Unfortunately, the list could go on quite a bit…. but to say that there was bad blood between her and us would be an understatement.
But… kind of amazingly… nothing at all came to me in the way of bitterness as we stood there while the lady at the other end bet a small fortune. Just sort of a weird shocked feeling that old paths didn’t end when they’ve been long out of sight.
It never even occurred to me to say any of the things that I probably would have said years earlier. It wasn’t until hours later, as I telling someone about it, that I even realized that I’d had the perfect chance to do so.
But then, neither did it come to mind to say hello and have a normal adult conversation either.
She hadn’t looked up at me during the time while we waited… and it had been so long I wasn’t even sure if she would recognize me even if she’d noticed me before I noticed her.
But then, after she’d made her purchase, she turned and shot me a deliberate look… that I’m not even sure how to describe exactly.. and turned her back towards me sharply with an audible huff, and did this flouncing away thing.
I laughed. Without even thinking about it… it was just that randomly and abruptly over the top and totally out of the blue as to make it comical… and it just sort of came out before I could have stopped myself had I tried.
Someone behind us in line wondered aloud ”What was that all about?“ and the cashier just sort of shook his head and shrugged.
Out in the parking lot a minute or so later, she was waiting for a car to pass to leave the pump as I was getting into my car near the door…. and she made a big production of all but squealing her tires as she left, going way too fast for a parking lot and making overly wide swerves that came pretty close to a poor car trying to pull in.
Apparently her feelings were not quite as mellowed to pretty much neutral surprise? LOL
Dunno if that was about me…
Or about dad (contact with my dad and i had broken down enough I’m honestly not even sure why they broke up… he had a new and much much nicer live-in gf by the time I moved home… so i’m not sure if I even asked back then even…)
Or a comparison with her kids (at least one of which has done jail time, and at least one of which was a high school dropout)…
Or just a bad day….
Or if she’s really just always that much of a witch…
But I’m really really glad that I’m on my side of the fence and not hers.
Though as amusing as the random harsh reaction was… I’m thinking I’ll be avoiding coffee from that particular place at that time in the mornings!