Discover more from Garden of Anxiety
How to Lose Friends and Influence People
A guide for standing up for yourself that you should maybe not follow.
My sister’s car was broken into a few days ago.
The thief, if you can even call him that, didn’t take much.
Also, I guess it might not be a him — could be her or even a them. But that doesn’t feel accurate.
“He stole a pair of sunglasses from TJ Maxx and an angel pendant I had hanging from the rearview mirror,” my sister, Emily told me on the phone. “Oh and around 200 UPS receipts.”
“200 UPS receipts?” I asked.
“Yeah. Super annoying, right?”
“No. I mean. Sure, but, why did you have 200 UPS receipts?”
“Well, I return a lot of things,” she said.
“But 200? Why do you save the receipts? How much stuff do you buy?” I said, looking around my apartment where Ben and I have decided that if we buy an article of clothing, we have to throw an article away. Or “give” it away, if anyone is asking.
“Did he break the car window?”
“No,” she said, “I still don’t know how he got in.”
“Well then…how do you know he broke in? Maybe Mark just threw away your receipts and you guys forgot?”
She scoffed. “No. Because I had them yesterday when I went to the UPS store but then when I went again today, I opened the glove compartment and they were gone.”
“You went to the UPS Store both days?”
“I had a lot to return.”
My sister is very much herself.
She knows who she is and has no interest in being anyone else. I wish I were like that instead of always running. Like a squirrel. Or maybe a ferret. From job to job or city to city. Searching for something that fits. Wearing a boy scout uniform in San Diego or misogynistic frat bro letters in Chicago, a funeral director’s suit in LA, or a gay marketer’s LinkedIn headshot in Miami — silk after silk, looking for something that sits right.
For Emily, though, everything seems perfectly snug.
“I want to be a mom and have two kids and a golden retriever,” she’s said for the past five years.
“Well. Do you care where you live?”
“Somewhere not cold.”
“What about your job?”
“I don’t know. Something that pays enough to have two kids and a golden retriever. I don’t really care what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
And she will.
Last week, she took me to a golden retriever festival where every breed of golden could be found.
“Need to pick out the right one,” she said
When I was younger, I viewed her as complacent. Lazy and undermotivated. But now, I envy her.
I once got a text from my roommate.
“You should check on Emily,” it said.
And so, like any concerned brother would do, I called. But Emily didn’t answer. And that’s because she was busy.
And not only crying but crying, sprawled out on the cold concrete floor of the Burbank Ikea because they had mailed her the wrong latch to her nightstand and the customer service department had closed earlier than Emily had planned. And Emily, my dear sister, was determined to make it clear to all the employees and especially their customers, that she had been wronged and that she was not leaving until she received the correctly sized silver-painted latch she deserved.
“But what if you saw someone you know?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I didn’t really think about that.”
My dad is like this too.
Once, at a CVS, there was a very long line at the pharmacy. And when it was finally his turn, the pharmacist refused to honor a GoodRx coupon on his sildenafil (generic Viagra), which, after the discount, should have totaled $12 for 30 pills, which is around 80% off the typical retail price.
“I’ve been coming here for years,” my father, a disheveled-looking 66-year-old man with velcro sandals and a cane, said to the young female pharmacist, “I know how this works, and this is a valid coupon code.”
The two of them went back and forth about expirations and policies and I still don’t know if he was in the right, but regardless, he looked her in the eyes, and with everyone in line staring he said,
"Hey. I don’t think you understand. I have absolutely nothing to do,” he tightened his grip on the cane that I don’t believe he actually needs, “and I’m not moving from this counter until you give me my pills at the right price.”
She readied a response, “Sir we—”
But she was no match.
“—If I were you,” he said, again, in front of many people, who were, at that moment, experiencing what would hopefully become a core memory, “I’d call the police and have them drag me out of here. And while you’re busy doing that, I’ll call the local news. It would be the proudest moment of my life for the television to say ‘Today an old man was arrested at the CVS on Navajo Road while attempting to purchase his medicine’.”
A few minutes later, she handed him his pills. She charged him $12.
I don’t know if I could do that. Even if it was justified. God forbid someone were to look at me weird. Or remember me in some less-than-bright light.
I remember asking my sister about the IKEA incident.
“Weren’t you embarrassed?” I asked.
“Why would I be embarrassed?”
“I don’t know. Because you’re an adult and adults don’t do those things.”
“Well. I got the latch, so…”
And maybe she’s right.
Who knows how many times in my life I’ve given up. Thrown up a white flag stemming from self-imposed shame that clawed its way out of a pile of ill-fitting clothes. And how many more times my life could’ve been better — maybe filled with rightfully earned silver latches or discounted Viagras.
Maybe even a golden retriever.
Send this to a pushover you know! ❤️