At noon, Erin walked across campus to the Student Union to buy her lunch.
Standing in line, she tried to decide what to eat. Fried chicken with coleslaw and a roll sounded good and would hopefully lift her spirits. She ordered and placed the plate on her tray, moving to the dessert station. A bowl of fruit joined the chicken before she moved to the cashier line with about twenty customers in front of her. She waited. What’s taking so long? Looking at the chicken on her tray, she thought it’d be cold before she even paid for it. After another glance at the line in front of her, she tapped her foot.
“Could you please stop doing that?” asked the customer behind her.
She turned. “Stop doing what?”
He pointed to her feet. “That.”
Looking the tall man up and down, she noticed his athletic physique, brown eyes and chestnut hair, but also his superior attitude. Less than contrite, she finally said, “Sorry. I didn’t know I was tapping.” She rolled her eyes and turned around. Pompous creature.
After the cashier finally rang up her tab, Erin rummaged in her purse to retrieve her wallet. It wasn’t in its usual place. She froze and then searched again. Had she put the wallet in the zippered compartment? She couldn’t remember but tried that section. No wallet there, either. Hopefully, she had stashed some money into her coat pocket. No. Her pants pockets? With trembling hands, she searched. She emptied her purse piece by piece, but it didn’t bring any results, either. Frantically, she threw lipstick, powder, tissues, nail file, and cell phone back into her purse while the irritated murmurs behind her grew louder.
Hanging her head, she told the cashier, “I’m sorry, I can’t find my wallet. I’ll have to take my tray back.”
While she grasped the tray, the pompous creature reached around her and placed a ten-dollar bill next to the cash register. “Here,” he said, “pay for your food and let’s get moving.”
Erin felt heat creep up her neck and into her cheeks. She pressed her lips together. Her bosom heaved. With as much hauteur as she could muster, she finally said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I can’t accept your money.”
“For Heaven’s sake, woman, pay your tab and let’s get on with it.”
She glared at him and grumbled, “I’ll pay you back.”
“Forget it,” he said and motioned for the cashier to complete the transaction.
When Erin wanted to hand him the change, he waved her attempt away.
“Thank you,” she mumbled without looking into his eyes and left the area as quickly as her feet would carry her. She imagined all eyes following her retreat. Her chest felt as if squeezed in a vice. Her hands still trembled. This had been a most humiliating situation and one she wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Not having her wallet with her and being unable to pay would have been bad enough without Mr. Snob’s irritating remarks. He was no gentleman. Nothing discreet about his words or actions. They stung.