When you get ticked off because you have just locked yourself out of your minivan, and perhaps more importantly locked all of the snacks and diapers inside of the minivan, you keep your composure, but you are sweating through the nursing tanktop that you are wearing. You are incredibly thankful that you already know the friend you are meeting at the coffee shop and that you are not meeting her for the first time, because she is already sharing her toddler’s snacks with your toddler, and she is holding your separation-anxiety-ten-month-old as well as her own newborn, while you stand outside on the five-degree windchill sidewalk, trying to communicate the location of your locked vehicle, again, to the locksmith dispatch center.
You are thankful for the steaming cup of coffee that she hands you as you walk back in and for the cookie she bought for your toddler who had an epic meltdown while you were on hold. You sip it while you wait for the eighteen-year-old who finally shows up to do three minutes of work only to tell you that you will not be paying the $50 you expected to pay based on their website’s rates page, but rather $120. You look at him with teacher eyes, but you are helpless, with your two babies not dressed quite warm enough for winter, with your spare key also locked in the car, and somehow, he knows it.
When you get ripped off, you call in to management. And you are put on hold. Transferred. Put on hold again. And when you finally do talk to someone in charge, you make the case that you’ve been practicing in your head all day. You make your argument with reason, a calm voice; but your hands are slightly shaking, and your stomach feels tight because you are from the midwest, and we don’t yell at people on the phone, though inside you are seething and wanting to cry, and all of the words you’ve been taught not to say are cycling through your head as fast as you can say But, Sir. You conclude the conversation by questioning the life choices of both the representative and the technician who you saw yesterday, but still, you do not receive a refund.
When you get ripped off, you are incapable of cooking dinner and doing one more freaking dish in your dishwasherless kitchen. So your order Chinese takout, and you dredge the injustice in sweetened red Thai chili sauce. You eat the equivalent weight of your feelings in cream cheese wontons.
When you get ripped off and receive no apology from management, you seek out the last vestige of justice: Yelp.com. You write a craftily worded, scathing review that you convince yourself will save hundreds of other people from your same fate.
When you get ripped off, you are thankful for your kind husband who does not make you feel even worse than you already do, one who does not cast you sidelong, judgy glances as you sit next to him on the couch, eat spoonful after spoonful of peanut butter covered in M&Ms, watching episodes of 30 Rock that you’ve seen at least two times already.
When you get ripped off, you eventually move on. You begin to think of the experience without a major increase in your heart rate, without considering calling in just one more time. Somehow, you forget the feeling of how hot your cheeks felt standing in the cold wind outside your locked minivan, the moment you realized that you’d locked yourself out. You resolve to have more spare keys made to give to friends around the city, but you never do.
Over time, your experience becomes the kind of story that you tell to small groups of people at parties, who nod in sympathy and roll their eyes at all the appropriate moments between bites of bruschetta. You take your story with you, and years from now, when some young mother calls you, potentially crying, telling you all about the day she just had, you too will nod in sympathy and encourage her to go ahead and get that large order of egg rolls.