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Grumpy old man

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. Now, I know it’s the holiday season. We should all be filled with love, hope and joy.

Yep, the key words in that last sentence are “should be.” Looks like a few folks didn’t get the love and joy memo. If you ask me, there’s no hope for them, either.

So what’s got my long johns in a bunch now, you might ask? I can easily be grumpy — if only I were allowed. The Wife has been saying all week I can’t. The reason why is at the end of this story. Here’s the beginning.

Ten items or less: That’s what was written on the big yellow sign hung above the checkout line. Everyone is in a hurry at the grocery store during the holidays, especially picking up that last minute item.

You know the one. It’s the reason you went to the store in the first place. Then you spent an hour buying everything and somehow forgot the very thing you braved all that traffic and came out for. Yep, that’s how my week started.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the ten items or less checkout line and standing in front of me was someone who, for some unknown reason, couldn’t read the sign. She had over 50 items and a handful of coupons.

I turned to the lady behind me who also had only one item. She glanced at the 50 items being checked, then back at me.

I smiled and whispered, “I really want to say something, but I can’t. The Wife said I can’t be grumpy. No one likes a grumpy guy during the holidays.”

The nice lady smiled back and replied, “Your wife is right.”

Posted speed limits: This is for all those folks who rush around our roadways endangering the rest of us this holiday season. If you happen to end up behind me, behind me you will stay. I will be traveling at the posted speed limit. It’s a speed limit. Not merely a suggestion. Don’t believe me? Just ask that nice police officer when he pulls you over.

If you would like to go faster than me, you have three options. You may go under, over, or around, but I’m not going any faster, no matter how close you get to my bumper. Sorry, if you’re in that much of a hurry, you should’ve started your trip an hour earlier.

We don’t judge family: So easy to say, yet so hard to do. Some of these folks I’ve known all of my life. I ask you, who else could be a more qualified judge?

Alas, unless I want to be poked in the ribs or kicked under the table all through the holidays, this is one I really need to work on. Saying what’s on one’s mind around family isn’t a way to spread the holiday spirit.

By the end of the week, I finally understood what The Wife had tried to tell me. “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. No one wants to be around a grumpy old man – especially during the holidays.”

Last night I told her and got a surprise. She leaned over, gave me a kiss, and added, “Besides, grumpy old men don’t get presents.”

I must admit I do like getting presents. Guess I’ll rethink the whole grumpy old man thing — at least for the holidays.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]

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