One thing I’ve definitely noticed about myself at this age: I have lost my patience for bad things. Like a bad haircut, a bad blister, a bad approach.
I will blame it on my age, backed, as it turns out, by science. At least, according to some physician (whose name escapes me) who was recently interviewed on satellite radio. (Listening to talking heads on the dial…uh oh, I am turning into my mother, the transformation continues…) Finally, the excuse I was looking for: Actual physiological evidence that, as a woman enters peri-menopause and then menopause, her brain changes in a way that inspires less tolerance.
After all, my growing impatience is nothing if not inspired.
And yet, it makes sense. Physiology is the reason why so many women take drastic measures to create change at this stage of life. You know what I’m talking about: The nice gal next door who suddenly turns 45 and leaves her husband of 18 years. The accomplished corporate executive who, after a particularly unsavory birthday, decides to chuck it all to open a bead and crystal shop in some out-of-the-way artists’ community. The newly censor-free neighbor who no longer thinks twice about letting you know it’s YOUR garden and dirty shingles that are bringing down her house values.
It’s physiological folks. Hello? Is anybody out there? We can’t help telling a co-worker how her bra ain’t cuttin’ it anymore, even if she doesn’t ask. Or glare at the slow poke in line ahead of us at Wegman’s, even if they ARE juggling a cart full of fresh produce and an unruly toddler who thinks tomatoes are for throwing.
It’s no longer “no problem” to get that chicken stir-fried when we asked for it steamed. Sure, that may have cut the mustard when we were in our 20s, but now, at the ripe age of almost 54, well, no go senorito. There are bigger things riding on it—not the least of which is how fried anything hits my digestive system or my already cortisol-infested midsection.
I’ll speak for myself when I say that, at this stage of the game, I have less control than ever before in letting the who’s who know the what’s what in my cerebral cortex.
Case in point: I near blew right out of my spandex on Sunday at brunch with my husband and my best friend, her husband, and two boys. Especially since I’m no longer able to tolerate another “bad” thing. What you ask? You guessed it: The worst of the worst. Bad service.
Hey, I work hard for my money and time is at a premium. So if I’m gonna leave the house for a restaurant meal with friends, well, it better be good all the way around.
Anyway, we get to the restaurant and wait about 40 minutes to sit down at this crappy ass table that has four of us lined up against the back wall like felons. Not very conducive for conversation. What we’ll do for a great omelet.
And so, after a long 15 minutes, the waitress comes over to our table for our order. I go first: “I’ll have the Full Moon Omelet. No bread, no potatoes.” Because, if memory serves, that omelet the size of my favorite shoe boots will do just fine.
Then, the waitress turns to one of the boys and asks for his order. Naturally, he wants a bacon cheeseburger and French fries. And, of course, me being the sarcastic quasi-aunt that I am, quickly interject, “He’ll have some melba toast, sliced peaches, and a side of cottage cheese.” (Yuk yuk.)
To which the waitress glowers at me and says, “We’re really busy. I don’t have time for that. Can I just get your order?”
Whoa Nelly, I thought to myself. Does she know who she’s f**%#in with? Have she seen my female blood panel? She does NOT want to mess around with somebody who has my kind of labs, okay? And so, stunned, as if she’d just stabbed me in the eye with her pen, I look at my best friend and say in a bold whisper, “THERE GOES HER TIP AND THEN SOME.”
And I tip everyone. Too much, in fact, since I spent my graduate school years bartending to pay my way through the bookstore, I’m often overly generous. But I digress…
Cut to 45 minutes later, when she finally brings out our food. I figured by then, her attitude wouldn’t be a factor since she’d be tip centric and contrite about the wait—and mommy would be distracted by the breakfast festival about to go down just fine. Until, that is, she dropped a plate with something looking like a yellow wool beret that had been plucked from wet mud in front of me.
As I explored further with my fork, I realized there was scant little anything in this mushy little cap – where were the tomatoes, spinach, sprouts, cheese, and artichokes billed on the menu? Where was the proverbial beef?
Oh no, mommy was NOT happy. I had endured, after all, a veritable slap in the face from that waitress and then she has the audacity to serve me this? (BTW, I have no idea why I’m calling myself “mommy”–but I angrily reserve the right.)
Bad service is bad. But bad food? Well, that’s like a personal assault to my character. And what made it worse, was that I had no bread, no potatoes to add as buffer to my hunger, and nobody to complain to who cared. I was what they call “SOL” (shit out of luck, for those of you who live inside a button) in terms of having any kind of substantial nourishment.
So, I did what any Darwinian female would do: I decided to order BACON. I motioned to the waitress, who was more than irritated that I would dare to order anything else, since she’d decidedly delivered our food for the day and was on to abusing the other patrons. But I didn’t care.
After I ordered, we all proceeded to eat our breakfasts. I was sure my bacon was coming at any moment, so I kept going too, but slowly. A tad bit more slowly than I might’ve otherwise eaten, if bacon weren’t on its way out to accompany my now vaguely edible half beret.
Then, as if it were happening in slow motion I watched my best friend finish her meal first. Then the boys. Then her husband. And then, mine (who is, by the way, the slowest eater on what we know so far to be all of the solar system). And still…
After about 20 minutes, the waitress comes over to inform me in an exasperated, sweaty, and disingenuous way that “I’m really sorry, they’re just so backed up in there…” And before I could squeak out a complaint, she was off.
It was clear to me in that moment: She was winning. I had to up my game.
So I plot hard in my head as another 20 minutes pass. I try to catch her attention, but she refuses to even look over in my direction. Smart. Very smart. Which only made me madder.
Now it’s 40 minutes, things are slowing down in the restaurant, we’ve been done with our meals for a good 10 minutes (our dirty plates are still on the table as evidence), and I’m complaining very loudly about not getting my bacon to anybody who’ll listen. Winking at the folks newly seated at the table next to us – as if to say, “Hey, don’t be a cautionary tale like me. Get out while you can.”
Still, the waitress behaves as if we are six statues that need absolutely no bacon whatsoever. Not American, Canadian, or turkey.
After about 10 more minutes, she comes over and, with the indifference of a mule, drops the bill on the table. As she’s about to leave, she finally turns and says straight to my face (get this), “I could get you the bacon now, but I just assumed you didn’t want it anymore.”
WHAT? Did she say “ass-u-me”? I am, of course, appalled. But I couldn’t let all my feelings show. Then she would have REALLY won.
What happened next is not my fault. Remember, it’s physiological.
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Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies creativity, relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.