I waited at KFC for my simple order
of greasy chicken on a Friday night
with fatigue written in my body after
another unrelenting week of racing
against the clock to do all I can do.
When up to the counter came stomping
a woman tense and staring fiercely at the
teenage girl who had, according to her
recollection of events, made a fatal error
on her order of drinks or some such
inconsequential outcome of this very
ordinary and pathetic economic exchange.
There was fury in the woman’s voice but her
stares of anger were never met, and in
zen calm the girl without much fuss apologised
and with efficacious movement went through
the order matter-of-fact and neatly supplied the
woman what she had so desperately missed.
The woman, though, did not move but with
pieceing eyes and hands on hips looked at
the girl and waited for a response that could
never come, and I too stared in fury at the woman,
as witness, judge, outraged by her rude manner,
her gruff voice, her making the inconsequential into
a confrontation that was impossible to win.
The women left but was looking back at the girl,
at me, and I followed her with my distain and
disapproval, eyeing her in righteous judgement,
and she looked back with eyes still fierce but
somehow lowered, and she sat in her car for a
while and I could see that she was still staring.
As the woman’s car eventually exited and I collected
my order in a brown paper bag reeking with the
smell of hot chips, I fell to reflecting on this moment
and to myself as witness and judge; and my distain
and indignation gave way to curiosity and empathy:
what had led this woman to this moment and why
did all this seem to amount to so much for her?