In the same way I automatically correct people's grammar inside my head because I'm an English teacher, I also people watch -- because I'm a writer. Today's trip to the local Jiffy Lube for an oil change provided me with some good character fodder.
First of all, in spite of the fact that there were some dozen drivers there, I was the only woman (besides the two working in the shop, that is). Apparently, Saturday afternoon car issues are a mostly male thing. (Come to think of it, most times I'm in Jiffy Lube, it's men who are the other customers. I wonder why. It's not like one needs any car knowledge to go to Jiffy Lube, so we can't even apply the usual gender stereotyping here.)
As I have a nasty case of bronchitis and a sinus infection, I took care to sit as far from the room's other occupants as possible, but it wasn't all that far, as the room was fairly small.
First off, there was the guy with the dog.
Now, it was not a guide dog, so we can make some assumptions about the selfishness of this man. After all, a dog does not enjoy Jiffy Lube, with lots of strangers, lots of cars, and lots of commotion. Also, it was a nice, sunny day outside, and the man could've easily taken the dog out to walk about on the grass. But, no, he sat with the uptight mongrel on his lap, petting it over and over so that fur flew into the air. I wanted to smack some manners into him, but I couldn't, so I coughed into my sleeve and tried to concentrate on grading papers.
Several people left, but Dog Guy remained, much to my annoyance.
Then Mr. Center of Attention arrived.
Now, I'm an extrovert, but I know when to back off. No one appreciates someone who tries to draw everyone's attention to him in a public waiting area.
This man was 50-ish, wearing a fisherman's cap, and rather good-looking with silvery hair about his ears and dark eyes. However, he clearly knew he was good-looking, and he wished to enforce his superiority on the world.
First, it was onto Dog Guy.
In a voice far too loud for the room, he began a conversation about the mongrel, his own yappy dogs and how they annoy his neighbors (Probably about as much as you do yourself, buddy), and how their annoying his neighbors was unimportant to him (I just bet your neighbors can tell). This caused Dog Guy to preen over the attention and to pet the mutt more vigorously, which, in turn caused me to cough from the increased amount of dog hair flying in the little room.
Then Dog Guy was called into the shop area (yea!) to pay and leave, so it was just Mr. Center of Attention with me now -- and the stupid TV show going on about two idiots trespassing and hunting alligators for some reality show.
About 2 seconds after Dog Guy's departure, as I still sat green-penning kids' essays and wondering how it is that so many of the kids just can't seem to follow a model, suddenly Mr. CoA bursts out with a fake laugh and a loud comment about the show.
Dude, you are desperate, I thought. But I didn't look up. The man was not flirting -- as he'd gone on and on about his wife to Dog Guy -- he wanted my attention only to feed his ego, not to flatter mine.
I thought he'd calm down, but, apparently miffed that I ignored him, he got up and went into the shop area, leaned on a railing, and yakked at the mechanics for about 10 minutes.
Mr. CoA's car was finished long before mine was, although he arrived later than I did. I understood, however. The Jiffy Lube crew just wanted him out of there.
In retrospect, I wonder how the man is married. How could his wife tolerate that all the time?
Somewhere, I will work these two into a plot; I just know it.