James Partello

There was a false air of confidence in his movements as the tall man approached the customer service desk in the back of the department store. He knew what he had to do and he'd practiced the words he'd have to say time and time again for the past few days. His eyes wandered and for a moment he almost forgot his mission but the gentle brushing of polyester against the bare skin of his wrist brought him back to focus. His eyes met briefly with the customer service woman behind the counter as he set the garment on the desk with an affirmed, yet wavering, echo that was his deep confident voice escaping his lips. "Excuse me, I'd like to return this jacket."

He didn't expect the quick response of the woman. He hadn't planned for what she would say next and with the words "Certainly. May I ask why?" he was taken back. What could he say? Before he had a chance to think, his mouth acted for him. The words he knew immediately shouldn't have been said were on the table and the consequences would be dire.

"For spite." His voice was shaky and without a strong push to speak of. It was all too obvious to him what little eye contact he made. Only for brief moments would he glance directly into the woman's questioning gaze, surely brimming with disdain and lack of a regard of any substance. It took them both a moment to comprehend the words spoken but it was the woman behind the counter who acted first. She spoke, repeating his words to the man in an inquisitive tone as though she hadn't heard him right. If only she hadn't. If only there was hope. But, alas, there was little the man could do at this point but grasp for an opening.

"For spite?"

"That's right." Confidence was beginning to come back. She hadn't turned him away so maybe there was hope after all. He held back clearing his throat in exchange for not allowing her a word in. "I don't care for the salesman that sold it to me." But all of the sudden her gaze began to question the hope. Question the fate of the poor man who came into this store this day.

If there was a moment so horrifically condescending as this one, I dare it to rear its ugly face, as the words, the tone and the expression behind them with which this woman spoke was terrifying. Little could she understand the blow she had sent to the man. The unceremonious bash to his self esteem as she broke out each cold and cutting consonant with ease and nary a mark of considerate hesitation. She was c

  • Work
    • Walnut Creek, CA
  • Education
    • Las Lomas High School