My coffee pot is on the fritz – of coffee and compliments

My coffee pot is on the fritz.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate—actually, my coffee pot has a broken part and replacing the part is turning out to be troublesome. I like my coffee pot and have a deplorable history of finding less than stellar pots that make lousy coffee—hence my reluctance to simply toss the old and get a new.

But that’s not my point here.

My coffee pot is on the fritz, which is why I’ve found myself stopping at the local QT for my morning cuppa. I do not function without my java. It just doesn’t happen. And while I do love my pricey, frou-frou coffee drinks, they are neither budget nor body friendly so I reserve those for a once weekly treat and stick with the cheap stuff at the QT—which, by the way, happens to make a damn fine pot of mud.

At 6:30 in the morning, the place is already crowded— Phoenix is an early rising city it seems—but the clientele is all guys clad in denims, Dickies and other “hard work” attire. There are no business suits or “office casual” outfits to be found—except mine. To say I felt a little conspicuous the first time I went in there is an understatement. I got looks.

In a sea of work boots, my heels click loudly on the tile floors; surrounded by denim pants, my swirly skirts stand out. Oh yeah, that I’m usually the only female in the place makes a difference as well.

After a little over two weeks stopping at the QT (I told you I was having trouble finding the part), I’ve gotten quite used to experience, but there are still some things that surprise me.

~ I haven’t opened the QT door once, not one single solitary time. No sooner do I get anywhere near the darn thing than some helpful fellow holds it open for me—even if he has to go out of his way to do it. I smile and say “Thank you.”

~ The infallibly pleasant chorus of “good mornings” that has, since Day 1, greeted my arrival always makes me wonder—are these guys always this polite? Is Phoenix an unusually cordial city? I simply return the greeting. (by the way, single women take note – Phoenix has a very high ratio of single men to single women… Yep, the guys way outnumber the girls.)

~ The lack of unpleasant attention—though I’m no goddess, usually, a well-dressed woman entering a sea of rough-and-tumble men folk is greeted with everything from the quick sneak-peek to outright leers and worse. There has been none of that. And for that, I’m thankful.

I’ve been on this earth a few years now; and I’ve been in groups that were primarily men, and I can honestly say—this is not the norm I’m used to. I’m used to the litany of sexist jokes, the condescending attitudes, the “hey little lady” and “what can I do for you darlin’” greetings. Did I suddenly tumble into a Twilight Zone?

Then this morning it happened.

I hadn’t seen this guy in the QT before, but he was just like all the others—heavy work boots, worn Dickies, a t-shirt covered by an unbuttoned work shirt, calloused hands gripping an oversize coffee cup. He held the door for me on the way out. Then he spoke.

The usual “good morning” greeting exchange was followed by another comment, “You look lost.” He spoke just as I was opening my car door—parked right next to his.

I blinked. I was certain I’d misunderstood. Did he say I looked lost? I must have looked baffled when I replied, “ummm… no, I’m not lost, thank you.”

Because he laughed.

And said, “No, I said, ‘You look awesome.’” He was smiling, opening his own car door.

Oh.

Uh.

Yeah.

Remember, I’m no goddess. I tend to see myself as a reasonably attractive, somewhat overweight, late thirties woman who (admittedly) doesn’t really look my age—and I think that’s a fairly realistic assessment.

He was a reasonably attractive, average built man in probably his early forties.

“What’s your name?”

I finally realized he was flirting.

I smiled and I lied. Just a bit.

“R…. And thanks, but, I’m married.”

There was the lie. I’m not. But he didn’t know that. And though I have no ring on my finger or paper to say it, The BF and I may as well be married.

His smile didn’t fade a bit, “Oh. Well, you look fabulous! Your husband’s a lucky man. Have a great day!”

And with that, he got into his car.

Now, maybe women who are gorgeous and receive compliments all the time are used to this sort of thing. Maybe it doesn’t faze them a bit. But me, I have a three-fold reaction.

There’s the first part that gets a little ego boost from it all. Wow. Some total stranger just said I looked great. Cool. That part only comes when the compliment is pleasant (as this one was). Creepy ones don’t do it.

Then there’s the next part that thinks, “Why am I letting some man’s opinion shape me? Knock it off. How sexist. How…” Yeah. That little voice that can take a reasonable level of feminism to new and ridiculous heights. I acknowledge the validity of some parts of it and tell the rest to shut the hell up and butt out.

And finally, there’s that deep dark corner of the brain that has to speak its piece and be heard. It’s an evil part, rotten and nasty, festering with old wounds and hurts never healed.

“Why would some guy want you?” It hisses. “You’re nothing special. You’re no supermodel.”

Thoughts like that are like oil, they just get everywhere, spreading and laying on top of everything else.

“All he wanted was a quick one…” That nasty voice never stops. “You’re fat. You’re ugly. The only thing you have going for you is sex. And that’s all he wanted…”

Left unchecked, that nasty little voice can ruin every bit of ego boost, can turn a pleasant compliment into something evil and add bitterness to mix as well.

I stomp it like the snake it is, stand up a little straighter, smile a little wider and instead choose to listen to the positive side.

But why is that the bad stuff is so much easier to believe?