The other day I found myself, along with what I'm assuming was a fire-code-breaking sized crowd, crammed into the lobby of a local ice-cream shop (Cold Stone Creamery). I stood shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers, all of us focused on the same goal (ice-cream attainment), and thus tentatively putting up with each other amid shallow grins, and subtle head nods.
The atmosphere of the room? Upbeat.
I suspect that this was for three reasons.
First, it was July 3rd, and (I'm assuming) most of us were waiting to see the same fireworks later that evening over the Tennessee River just a few blocks away.
Second, the temperature outside was somewhere in the vicinity (and this is a guess) of around 250 degrees. Seeing as how the ice-cream parlor was air-conditioned, I could have been standing in line for liverwurst for all I cared.
Finally, the staff of this particular frozen treat establishment, had momentarily stopped their work to do a little song and dance, not only for their own sanity, but also for the entertainment of their patrons.
Well, all of the patrons save one.
Like an unexpected clap of thunder on a bright sunny day, my hearing was assaulted by a middle-aged man who had momentarily stepped into our little lobby diamond in the rough to unashamedly announce,
"KIDS! LET'S GO! WE'RE GOING TO BEN & JERRY'S DOWN THE STREET! I BET THEIR LINE IS SHORTER THAN THIS!"
It was obvious to me that this little outburst from our self-proclaimed Ben & Jerry's stockholder was not for the benefit of his, apparently running loose, children, but rather, was directed at all of us Cold Stone lemmings.
As a retailer, I happen to take offense when someone tries to steal business from a company while standing in their lobby (not to mention he was yelling into my left ear).
So, I did what any sensible person would do.
I turned to him, looked him in the eye, and informed him,
"You'd better be careful how loudly you say that."
His reply was somewhat bewildering,
He chuckled and commented, "Yeah, that's what they just told me (not quite sure who "they" were)."
He then went on to say, "Maybe this line would be moving a little faster if they stopped singing and dancing and did some work."
I, trying in vain to make a point using the complex tool of sarcasm, replied, "Yeah, they are having way too much fun."
"Exactly", he said proudly, and walked off.
And as I stood there, self-righteously waiting patiently for my turn at the "Order Here" counter, I could just picture this man, hand in hand with his children, proudly marching towards the best kept secret in Chattanooga, inwardly praising himself for his brilliance.
And I could picture them ordering their ice-cream.
Having successfully cleared all obstacles (and anything even remotely resembling fun) in the way of their intentions.
And somewhere, deep down, I'd like to think I got my ice-cream first.