Calm the duck

Lately, I’ve been on a quest to find out why I’m so basic. I’m still not entirely sure what my deal is, but today I thought about the word “basic” and what it means to me.

Years ago, I worked at a bagel bakery. A “basic” was a bagel with plain cream cheese. To prepare one, you simply grabbed a bagel, sliced it, smeared it with cream cheese, wrapped it up and marked it with a “1” so the cashier knew how to ring it up.

Simple, yes? But for a time, I worked with a power-hungry cashier who would complicate the order.

“Is this a ‘one’ or an ‘l’?” she would ask.

“It’s a ‘one,'” I would answer. “A basic.”

“Well, you need to write neater.”

Um, hi. My handwriting wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t sloppy. And a capital L meant hummus. Nobody marked the packaging with lowercase letters!

Furthermore, when I prepped a hummus bagel, I would write the L in cursive because I wanted my L to look like Laverne’s iconic L from the sitcom Laverne & Shirley. It was a moment of cursive that brought me joy.

One more thing: Any idiot could tell by the weight and look of the wrapped bagel if it had been smeared with hummus or cream cheese.

But this particular cashier did not like me or my handwriting. She would frequently squint at my writing, sigh and loudly question what I wrote.

“Is this supposed to be a T?” she’d ask, holding the bagel upside down.

“It’s a T,” I’d say. “It’s a turkey bagel.”

“Because I thought it was an underlined ‘one.'”

I’m going to tell you something. Every time she questioned my handwriting, it would send me into a private rage. My peaceful heart would instantly transform into Donald Duck when he gets mad. I could feel him jumping up and down in my chest cavity.

Eventually, I learned to calm the duck. I funneled my rage into labeling the bagel sandwiches with extravagant curlicues, loops and elaborate flourish. This is something I continued to do long after she quit.

I still add a little flair when signing my name or even just initialing something. It’s a private moment of joy for me to give basic things a little extra because it turns out I like being basic and extra. Thanks for reading. -Connie

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