The woman at KFC

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?