Wow. She waves to me while I check out. I am at a regular register toward the rear of the store; she is at the “special help” one, much nearer the exit. My cart is right behind her at the door where the regular guard checks the receipt against the visible merchandise. She seems to deliberately keep her back turned to me, either embarrassed by the amount of beer she has in her cart (and nothing else), or because she is afraid I will hold her up with weather chat, or maybe some other reason…
Although she checked out at the closer register, her car is parked much further along the building than mine. I don’t know her terribly well, but we belong to the same charitable organization on the island, and I either never paid much attention before, or I just assumed she would be the type of person who kept her eyes open and her senses aware when she walked. I was certain I was being deliberately shunned, despite her enthusiastic waving inside the store.
My car unlocks at the click of the Unlock button on the key, and I work my cart to the hatch of my old island X-Trail to put away my purchases. Normally, I don’t go to the CostULess by myself any more because I can’t handle heavier objects on my own. Unlike at the local grocery stores, there are no bag boys packing up my stuff here and steering the cart toward my car, where they pack my purchases into the back. The grocery is where I go when I’m shopping for heavy objects by myself; the CostULess is where I go for bulk light-weight items like paper towels and tissues. Today, the only reasons I am here is that I need some quick heat-and-take appetizers for a birthday party we’re attending later in the day, and because I was expecting to see a friend who would be displaying wares from 11 a.m. I succeed in my purchases mission, but fail to hook up with said friend. (Later I find out she arrived right around the time I was pulling out of the parking lot. )
The oven is full of finger foods that cook at about the same temperature, and I am in the bedroom changing for the party. For whatever reason, my thoughts keep returning to what I really think was deliberate ignoring. Several things come to mind: I have trouble driving unfamiliar roads during the night. My night vision is getting better as I get stronger after months of illness weakened me so much that I almost completely stopped driving, even during the day, unless absolutely necessary. I opted out of taking any part in the charity group’s only fundraiser because it is really a lot of work, and all I was doing was sleeping when the illness was in full swing. During some of the worst days of my illness, I also lost my two 5-year-old cats that we’ve had since kittenhood. The combination threw me into a depression I couldn’t get out of.
Another member of the organization inadvertently started pulling me out of this funk by asking me to edit an annual report for her. I had done the same the year before, and took on the responsibility, fighting with myself (and an interim flu I caught during a meeting with the stakeholders) each day to tackle a bit more of the report. By the time I was over the flu more than a week later, I was only half-way done, but I managed to finish it in just two days, including a few re-writes of passages that I lacked information to complete properly. My fee was two tickets to the group’s fund raising event, which I had asked be set aside for me anyway. Thus, I managed to attend the event with a friend and neighbor. The second ticket had been intended for my husband, but he forgot to tell me until four days earlier that “we” were expected at a university event that he had signed us up for. Just because I asked him for the date of the event a month earlier didn’t mean I was given it. That’s just the way he operates–no calendar except for class schedules and meetings. Everything else he forgets about until the last minute. Thankfully, my friend knew the way and was willing to drive for a good time and a good meal. Otherwise, I would not have been able to even attend a fun event because it took place on a part of the island I rarely drive to, and that I would never have been able to find on my own–with or without my husband.
So I begin to wonder if the CostULess problem had to do with the fact that I had attended the event without doing any of the work. No, I think. That can’t be it. But maybe I ought to take another look at that organization dinner invitation I received via email and responded with a “join” on Facebook. I open the computer and re-read the invitation. Hmm… Maybe I misinterpreted it. Looking at it again, I note that it specifies a “thank you” celebration for those who worked toward making the event a success. I had attended, but didn’t do anything toward that evening’s preparations. That was OK, because I had taken a leave of absence from the group until sometime during the summer, after I get myself back on my feet again. So really, I don’t think the invitation was supposed to include me.
The next day, I shoot off an email to the group secretary asking if I had RSVP’d in error, and that I am about to change my response. Apologetically, she responds that this event was, as I had already figured out, only for the persons who worked toward the gala. So I immediately get into Facebook–which is excruciatingly slow for me here on the island with our poor connections to the internet–and after the forever wait before I can even post a status, I try to access the organization site only to find that I’m shut out altogether. So I sit here writing this Dark Clouds assignment, and I am thinking, I paid my dues for the year and am therefore a member in good standing until December when next year’s dues are in. Is it possible that the leave-of-absence status removes me from the membership list? But we have no policy like that. (Hell, we don’t even have by-laws or anything else in written form that discusses how the organization works. Everything is word-of-mouth, passed down, etc.) Or are there comments related to my RSVP that the secretary does not want me to see? Now I’ll have to check back with her on whether she had inadvertently shut me out of the “private group” of which I am a fully paid-up member…
Bottom line: I know I should not have been included on the invitation, and that I had responded without reading it carefully. Also, I know that Facebook can be really flaky to use at times–I even had trouble with it back in the States. Sometimes I can’t even access my own account here! So my shut-out may have been inadvertent. Or was it? Should I be upset?