Joy Personified



While out in the world this week, I witnessed more than a few folks who seemed to be quite frazzled by the holidays. A couple of them were certainly over-stressed, and on the verge of blowing a gasket. A few others were keeping it together, but the effort to achieve that looked something like “Frank Costanza” screaming “Serenity now!” Not good, folks.


In the face of all that, I decided I wanted to maintain my own sense of calm and to that end, I actively chose to embody Joy. I couldn’t have made a better decision for myself. People wearing stressful grimaces saw me and smiled, most of them saying something nice and friendly. Hell – the parking attendant at Whole Paycheck had the driver in front of me circle around the lot so that I could have the primo spot by the door. (This is L.A., so yes – we have parking attendants at our overpriced grocers.) And for me – all of that was great!


But maybe the best feeling was reserved for the few moments when I didn’t have a conniption fit over someone else’s bad driving. Instead, I smiled at the person and made nice. Never mind the smile being fake. It kept me calm, and it kept me centered.


By the time I was pulling into the driveway of the new pad, I was beaming and saying, “I AM Joy!” And I meant it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying my little experiment will work for you, but it sure was nice for me.

Melodrama at Whole Paycheck



I was at Whole Foods the other day, and while I patiently waited my turn at the meat counter, I witnessed one of the best grocery store scenes I’ve encountered in ages.


There was an elderly lady at the counter. Let’s call her Gladys, shall we? So Gladys was accompanied by her young, Latina caregiver. Let’s call her Juana, shall we? So Juana was just minding the shopping cart and not saying a word. Gladys was talking enough for both of them: “I said I don’t want you to wrap the chicken in that paper! I want it in a plastic bag, then wrap it in paper!”


The gentleman behind the counter nodded and said, “So sorry – I didn’t hear you say that.” He then proceeded to wrap her purchase per her instructions. While he did that, Gladys berated him for not listening to her in the first place. And then another butcher approached the counter, and Gladys asked him something about where a particular employee was, inquiring as to whether or not it was his lunch time. This new butcher dude, with a straight face, looked at Gladys and said, “Are you asking me out for lunch? Because I’m married! You’ve got to stop trying to go out with me! I’m not available!”


Y’all, Gladys was about to have a conniption fit, and she was just beside herself. “I am NOT asking you out! I have never! What is wrong with you? My goodness!”


At about that time, the original gentleman behind the counter returned with Gladys’ purchase. Gladys looked at him and desperately pleaded, “Tell him I didn’t ask him out!”


The original gentleman looked at Gladys sideways and said, “It sounded to me like you did ask him out.”


Gladys’s head almost exploded and she was screaming, “You’re loco! Loco, I tell you! You’re loco!”


Juana – remember Juana? Gladys’ caregiver? Clearly this wasn’t Juana’s first rodeo, as she stayed quiet the whole time, guarding the cart. When Gladys finally turned to Juana, she just pushed the cart down the aisle, awaiting instructions.


I had turned to pretend I was looking at something other than the spectacle beside me, and was trying with all my might to hide my laughter. Once Gladys had ambled away, the other butcher dude asked if he could help me and our little exchange began, sans humor.


I don’t know about that elderly lady’s inability to take a joke, and I did feel bad for her (a little), but I was also happy to see the employees entertaining themselves while at work.


Of course, the unsung hero in all this was Juana. I cannot imagine how much screaming she must hear while at her job. To her credit, she has managed to learn to tune out melodrama. Even if only while at the market. It all counts, you know.