A few weeks back, the bakery was featuring deluxe brownies. There were small bits of brownie in tiny plastic cups sitting on a table, and the fifty-something gentleman who'd cut the slices was sitting behind the table with a dour expression on his face. The place was extremely busy and it had taken us a long time to do our shopping, so I wasn't feeling overly friendly. He didn't look interested in chitchat either, so I just took a cup and continued on my way without making eye contact.
I'd gotten about as far as the donut hole display when I heard "You're welcome" from over my shoulder. I turned around to see Brownie Sample Guy staring at me confrontationally. "Thank you," I said automatically.
"That's it. That's what I was waiting for," he replied. The look on his face suggested that he was actually waiting for me to choke on the brownie and die, but apparently he was willing to settle for "thank you." "That's the usual exchange," he added.
I disagree that this constituted "the usual exchange." The usual exchange would involve him saying "Hello" first, or handing me a piece of brownie, or saying "This is rocky road. Would you like to try it?" He did none of these things. All he did was: a) sit there looking unfriendly, and b) get pissed off when I failed to thank him for sitting there looking unfriendly.
I was too stunned (and then too angry) to articulate any of these objections, however, so I glared at him but then just kept moving without saying anything.
I later realized that Brownie Sample Guy has given me a gift, in a way. Obviously, everyone needs an outlet for their anger in these troubled times. So his aggression is well-timed; it gives me someone to dislike. Unfortunately, his transgression was exceedingly minor and petty, which means that only minor and petty reprisals are justified. I'm willing to settle for that. So here are some of my ideas for getting back at Brownie Sample Guy:
1) Get a paper route. Every morning, deliver Brownie Sample Guy's paper, but then wait in the bushes until he comes out in his bathrobe to get it. After he's picked it up and turned around to go back in the house, shout "Don't mention it," and then get on my bike and ride away as fast as I can.
2) Find the cul-de-sac where Brownie Sample Guy lives, and calculate the portion of the sidewalk pavement which my tax contributions paid for. Hang out near that particular square centimeter in hopes that he will stroll by and step on it, so that I can say "No need to thank me."
3) Plant a tree out in the country, and then broodingly wait for BSG to repay me for his personal share of the oxygen supply and CO2 sequestration. A ha'penny ought to be about right. No more, no less.
4) Ensnare Brownie Sample Guy in an elaborate Ponzi scheme which will destroy his retirement fund. Spread scurrilous rumors which will ruin his family and lead to his arrest and the repossession of his home. Visit him in jail and punch him in the face.
I suppose I should run that last one past my lawyer.