I often find myself guessing tax amounts nowadays. In my mind, the precise moment when the tax on a McDonald's Fillet-o-Fish makes the price edge over a hundred bucks.. is played out like a cartoon. I imagine Huckleberry Hound with a sad, droopy face pushing his sleigh up the tip of a snowy cone of a mountain and barely going over the edge with a gasp and an "Oh dear!". From then onwards, it's all downhill.
Menucards. Price tags. Overcoats that cost Rs. 2999.
Bring out the OCD in me.
But a number helps.
Rarely has a waiter come over with a bill that made me cry. I have never asked that fellow with a red-capped poker-face to sit down and reconsider. I have never pleaded. We don't joke with waiters. We don't expect them to joke with us. There's something inhuman about it. Don't they do their work already because of all the waiting?
I could never shut my ears to that stealthy breath that whispers ever so quietly, "Just tell me what to do."
And then, one day, life sends you a bill for all the changes that you ordered. No numbers. But the payment can kill you with its authenticity. You wish life were a waiter that day. You wish you could say, "Please.. I am not carrying cash today. Can you send someone with me to nearest ATM?" or "I.. I never do this. I don't know why my card is blocked. Who on earth would block it? Am I not the protagonist here?"
The decision is final. And the steel can hurt like hell. Nothing changes on that poker face. And you feel like a foolish mirror. Obeying. Yeah. The only thing worse than waiting.
So many voices.
"Please? Please don't take him away? Not him, please?"
"Anything! Anything in exchange."
"No! You know nothing. You're just a messenger! It's MY story. You're just the listener. You should just nod your head!"
You want to sit life down and embrace it. You want life to bring back yourself to you. What you used to be when you thought that's all you are.
Funny thing, though. You can't say no, not now. You've changed irreversibly. And you don't know how to turn it back.
How many of us are still there? In the restaurant.. hugging the waiter. Pleading. Begging. Crying.