04/27/2011 11:15 am ET | Updated Jun 27, 2011

When People Are Rude ... What Would Jesus Do?

Are you really trying this with me?

It's a strange thing when someone lies to your face and you both know it.

I left the house Good Friday eve feeling pretty good. I love the Easter holiday season. Ever since I was a kid I was captured by this dramatic story -- how Jesus is tortured, died, buried, and all of this I found very sad. Every year I used to hope somehow he'd figure out a way to get out of his trouble and convince his Dad to save him or something. But that ain't how the story goes. I'm not saying that I liked the fact that Jesus suffered, but my child's mind completely embraced the injustice and absurdity of his situation.

So I'm in line at Walmart, which is packed as it always is this time of the week, just got paid, it's Friday night ... and they're selling what seems like more candy than Halloween, all yellow and pink and purple and lining the aisles; there are carts filled with chocolate eggs and Easter baskets, and people trolling for random home and beauty items.

And this twenty-ish/teenager steps in front of me and puts her products ahead of me on the rubber check-out belt. She's buying a relaxer and leave-in conditioner and she has green and blue stars tattooed on her neck. Her hair has these weird red and blond streaks running through it like she's been coloring her hair on her own for a while. (Not that any of this is good or bad, I just notice things sometimes.)

I think we (my husband's off tracking-down toilet paper) were ahead of you. I am saying this, leaning-in beseeching her to not be this way.

No, no you weren't, she's saying, her eyes cow-like but blood-shot.

I can feel the anger. Hers. And mine.

Just say, No, no you weren't, the anger assures me.

I reserve a certain type of disdain for this type of girl. The kind you keep only for yourself.

You're going to take that?! You can fight. YOU CAN REALLY FIGHT, the anger says.

What happened to Miss I love Good Friday so much? Where is she?

I let it go. Step back, she surges ahead.

Teller rings her up.


She only has a 5. Red-splotch marks on her neck. Embarrassment?

Her mother lumbers onto the scene, her back arching backwards like a sideways U, barely looks at the girl, hands the cashier a 20.

What's this juice, she asks then, as if knocking the bottle over and pushing the girl back towards me. Not waiting for an answer mom's already over it, doesn't care, grazing party's now leaving the store. The girl's flip-flopping after her.

My husband returns, 12 double-sized rolls for only $5.69, he's saying brightly. (Whoo-hoo! As we've gotten older, so many things make us happy, perhaps because we feel free of the whims of our parents/caretakers and more in control of ourselves.)

I am already forgetting her. But what just happened here? I would gladly have let anyone go ahead of me, but it's my perception of her trying to take advantage of me that made the anger appear. The fact that she looked like me in some respects, this added to my annoyance.

I used to always want to see Jesus fighting and kicking ass. Don't just sit there and take it! Don't walk into that trap! I pleaded with Jesus to have some kind of reason. And yet, I could lose mine on a dime.

Those were the rules. Jesus dies. But then he defeats death. This idea of defeating death has grown larger in my imagination and the complexity and strangeness of this idea seems even wilder to me than it did when I was a child. I can see the little ways I might diminish myself by giving in to anger and how that in a sense is a kind of death. I returned home feeling a more sober happiness than I'd left with, like gratitude for something I enjoy but do not wholly understand, like something new was beginning, even if I didn't know exactly what it was ...