Why can’t you be more like Robin Hood?

Boy, I have had a couple of really unpleasant customer service experiences lately. One at a Loehmann’s, and one involving a Rodeway Inn in Massachusetts (consumer beware!). I don’t understand why some people have to be so nasty to complete strangers, do you?

I mean, honestly, my guess is that someone was mean to them first, either earlier in the day or, like, during their childhoods or something. I know it’s a tough industry and it’s probably hard to be cheerful all day long. But still, I can’t imagine being that rude to someone while at work, in my professional capacity (er, you know, back when I had a professional capacity). I hope I wouldn’t be like that in any situation, but especially when you’re supposed to be doing your job (and your job is supposed to be interacting with people!), it always surprises me, especially since I really try to approach these folks in as friendly a way as possible.

Maybe it would help if I carried Sunshine around with me. I mean, who could be mean to this face? Right?

Yeah, that was totally just an excuse to put up another Sunshine photo.

But one of the great things about writing is that it’s perfect for exorcising frustration when you have to deal with people like that. I can be upset for hours after these encounters (yes, there are many reasons why this here hermit lifestyle suits me), but if I write out what I wish I had said (or, you know, scenarios involving certain motels getting hit by meteorites — on an off-season day when there are no guests there, of course), it usually makes me feel much better.

You might actually notice there’s a scene like this in the first Avatars book. A woman grabs Kali in the subway and starts a confrontation, and Kali, in one of my favorite moments, reacts like this:

The subway screeched to a stop and the two women got up, shoving their way to the front of the crowd. The blond woman kept talking loudly, ignoring the glares she was getting. Kali tried to dodge around them, but people blocked her way and she wound up trapped right behind the blond woman as they climbed the stairs. At. the. speed. of. grass. growing. Kali felt fury building up inside her. If they would just let her in front of them, she could have been out of the subway station by now. But no, they were both huffing their way up one lumbering step at a time, side by side so no one could get by.

Just then the mousy friend fell back a step and a space opened up on the blond woman’s left. Kali darted through, brushing against the giant purse, and started to take the steps two at a time.

All at once something stopped her with a jerk, and she nearly fell back. Incensed, she turned around to discover the blond woman clutching the strap of her backpack to hold her in place.

“Excuse me,” the woman sneered, “did you just push me?”

Kali yanked her bag out of the woman’s claw, noticing the gridlock of people started to pile up behind them. Don’t engage. Don’t get involved. “No,” she said, turning around again.

“WELL,” the voice rose behind her. “I’m pretty sure you pushed me.” Kali felt her seize the backpack again. “Why don’t you go back wherever you came from–”

I wish, Kali thought, whipping around with such speed that the woman let go and fell back a step, the words dying on her lips as she saw Kali’s expression.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you,” Kali hissed, leaning forward, “that it’s dangerous to talk to strangers?” With one swift movement, she yanked the giant leather purse out of the woman’s hands and threw it in a smooth arc over the side of the stairs. Makeup and pens flew in all directions as the purse spiraled around and landed with a whump on the train tracks below.
Both women’s jaws dropped simultaneously. Kali was up the stairs and out of the station before they could react.

This isn’t even close to what happened to me, of course. I conflated two events where strangers randomly tried to pick fights with me in NYC and put them together into one loathsome woman. Then I had someone bigger, braver, and much more superpowered than me give her her just desserts. Mwa ha ha!

For Kali, this is actually a pretty restrained reaction; what she’d really like to do is make the woman’s head burst into flames. But most of us would never do what she did, because, well, it’s kinda insane. Really, it’s much healthier, more legal, and probably more satisfying to just write about it.

By the way, I’m certainly not the only author to do this. Nellie Oleson was based on three girls that Laura Ingalls Wilder knew growing up, all of whom were horrible to her. I wonder if people would be nicer to each other if they knew there was a possibility their awfulness would be immortalized forever. Hmmm.

On a more cheerful note, I am hopelessly madly head over heels in love with the new BBC America version of Robin Hood. Oh my GOODNESS. Robin Hood is SO adorable, and Maid Marion is spunky and pretty and fascinating, and what’s really impressive is that it’s easy to tell the outlaws apart, because they’re all cute in different ways. It’s not the traditional story, exactly, but it’s swashbuckling and romantic and Jonas Armstrong beats the PANTS off of Kevin Costner in the (a) hotness, (b) dreamy eyes, (c) British accent, (d) yearning for Maid Marion, and (e) total hotness departments. I haven’t seen a Robin Hood this smokin’ since the fox in the Disney version. Yes, the animated one. Dude! He is a fox! I mean, literally!

Of course, I’ve always loved Robin Hood — I love bad boys with hearts of gold who are hopelessly devoted to their one true love (see: Spike, Logan Echolls, Michael Scofield, etc.). And you know what? Even when Robin Hood is robbing the rich (to feed the poor!), he’s still very polite to them. Yes, he may have them at arrowpoint, but he doesn’t feel the need to be surly or unpleasant, like certain members of the customer service industry that I could mention.

So…don’t be surprised if a Loehmann’s saleslady turns out to be the big villain of the next Avatars book. And maybe this time, I’ll let Kali set her head on fire.

Quote of the Day: “This is 1192, my friend. The time for heroes is gone. This is the age of the bookkeeper now.” – A bookkeeper, Robin Hood (see, even in 1192 there were people who thought like that…but as I’m sure Hiro and Dwight and Starbuck and Robin Hood and Veronica Mars would tell you, the time for heroes is never gone! Long live King Richard! woo!)