After I’d been at my House of Blues Las Vegas job for a few weeks and had established a friendly rapport with my bosses, my direct supervisor told me that before I was hired, our boss told her, “She’s from Philly. Those girls are tough. You may have to adjust her attitude a little more than we’re used to.” I of course found this hilarious, but it wasn’t far from the truth. We Philly girls have more of an edge to us. We don’t have time for foolishness, condescension or bullshit. We bark loud, and on occasion, when pushed, yes we bite. We have a natural-born chip on our shoulders that may come from living right in the middle of it all: we’re not bright lights, big city New York, but our theaters and museums and restaurants are just as impressive. We don’t have beaches like New Jersey, but almost every neighborhood has at least one row home that has a four-foot-deep above-ground pool where all the kids hang and play Marco Polo. We’re not Harvard and Yale smarty-pantses like up in New England, but we boast Ivy Leaguer University of Penn. And yes, both our pizza and cheesecake are better than yours. So it wasn’t a far stretch to say my Philly ‘tude needed to be Vegas modified. Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not the toughest beyotch on the block. I had an older brother who taught me how to fight so I’m not some sissy hair-puller. You come at me and I’ll get you in the nose, throat, or groin, depending on your gender or height. But I’ll beseech you to please not come at me, because I hate fighting and try to avoid confrontation of any kind at all costs. But, lovelies, there are some times when confrontation is necessary. And sometimes, not so much. Today I had a business confrontation that was half-unavoidable, half Philly. But I did pepper it with Vegas modification. Let me explain:
One of my state park retailers placed an order shortly before Christmas. I sent it out before going away for New Year’s . . . and found it sitting outside our office just two days ago. Arty Party–business partner and friend extraordinaire–called the gift shop to confirm their address and see if anything happened on their end. Nope. Address is the same, they have no idea what happened. So I call their local post office to see what happened, if I’ll have to pay postage again, and how to avoid this result in the future. The man who answered the call started speaking with third-word emphasis and a particular slowness when I questioned their practice of keeping a package during business after-hours rather than just leaving it. I say I have packages left on my doorstep all the time. “We can LEAVE it for a RESIDENCE but not for a BUSINESS.” He must have said it four times to various points I made before I professionally lost it. “Okay, you don’t need to speak to me like that, sir. I’m not a five-year-old and your tone is quite condescending. I’m simply asking questions so I can better understand how things work on your end so I can avoid this result in the future. I am a business owner, sending merchandise to a state park. Yes, they are closed on Mondays. So you’re telling me if you deliver this package on a Monday, you will leave a notice to the park instructing them to pick up this package without ever trying to deliver again when you know they’re open? Because I find it difficult to believe you don’t know the hours of the only state park in town.” He got much more polite after that. I didn’t need to remind him that due to his thick accent I could obviously tell English was his second language and I didn’t talk down to him. I didn’t ask if his little precious was denied a manatee sighting that left him particularly nasty toward this state park. Why wouldn’t they go back and deliver it? Why hold on for a month? He tells me it’s a post office rule that businesses are required to be able to receive mail six days a week. It’s not his problem that they’re closed on Mondays. This is where I got him. “Oh, they are able to receive packages six days a week, sir. Their gift shop is open on Sundays.” He says, “Yes, but we don’t deliver Sundays.” I said, “Yes, but your requirement is six days. Their day off just doesn’t happen to fall on yours. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?” Yes, he understood, and although the victory clearly went to me, I still had to pay for postage again and the package sent to an alternate address. Done. Calm. But my other southeastern Florida conflict from last week: not so easily resolved.
AP and I had traveled to some beach points to conduct business and while there stopped at a pancake house for breakfast. An elderly woman was coming out as we were entering. I stepped out of her way and held the door open for her. She had a Bluetooth in her ear, but wasn’t talking on it. She completely ignored me. Didn’t even look in my direction. Two people came out after her, a woman holding a child’s hand, completely ignored me too. They were all together, which I didn’t know at first, but should have gleaned from the family practice of rudeness. When I entered the restaurant I looked at Arty, shook my head and rolled my eyes and said, “Oh, because she’s special.” AP knew what I meant. It’s an unspoken peeve of my entire family when you hold the door for someone and they completely ignore you like you’re their personal valet. Really, where are your manners? It’s just human courtesy. Well, the woman who had the child with her yells at me as the door is closing, “No, she’s just handicapped!” What? The old bit looked fine to me. And please don’t insult the handicapped by insinuating their handicap automatically makes them devoid of manners. Speaking of manners, how do I then further display mine? I open my big fresh Philly reactive mouth and say “Screw you,” just as the door closes in her face. No, lovelies, I am not proud of this public display of classlessness. It’s just what happened. I could have, should have, just ignored her. I couldn’t even make out just who was handicapped. Her daughter? I don’t know. I didn’t see. I was simply commenting on a rude old lady to my person and her person snapped and I snapped back. Three nasty women at a pancake house, of which AP was not one. So imagine the injustice when AP and I get to our table and I spot these women hovering outside on the sidewalk. See, the one wall of the pancake house is made entirely of glass. It’s in a strip mall, so a whole row of booths is against the window, people are walking by; you get the picture. Well these women are standing outside the window at the point of mine and AP’s table. We’re not directly in front of the window, but in the line of booths across from it. AP’s a little clueless, having not witnessed much more than the holding of the door and my “screw you” comment, so she’s asking me what the heck is going on, I’m telling her I’ll explain later, stop making a spectacle of us as patrons are now staring at us. As I’m instructing her to ignore the ladies outside, don’t even look in their direction she does anyway and exclaims, “OMG! She just stuck her middle finger up at me!” Yes. The old bit stood out on the sidewalk and flipped AP the bird through the window, right in front of all the other patrons. Seriously? She had to have been in her eighties.
And probably from Philly.