I love the smell of apples. Of course, by this time of year they are out of season which means whenever I pick up a bag they are rarely fresh and turn bad quickly. My family and I just returned from a nice spring break cruise, and fresh tropical fruit notwithstanding, I had a reminding peek of the old adage, "There's a bad apple in every barrel." Not all apples turn out to be lovely.
The first interlude I had with Mrs. Bad Apple happened while waiting for my hot chocolate at a coffee shop. She stomped up to the counter and stuck her cup in the poor cashier's face. It was terrible, awful and tasted so bad she was sure it wasn't the latte she ordered. The confrontation did nothing for her carefully applied layers of makeup or designer sundress. She screamed like a three-year-old and demanded to see the girl who had made up her order.
Embarrassed for the cashier, I waited patiently for him to deal with her, even though she had interrupted me. When the girl who made the order came to the front, the entire shop was treated to the same loud accusations. Mrs. Bad Apple then demanded to see the carton labels so she could check for some mysterious ingredient she was not supposed to consume -- but the writing was too small. She bellowed for her husband, who I realized was standing as far away from her as possible. A quiet, handsome fellow, he rushed over and followed her instructions. It felt like watching a stage play. I was mortified by her behavior and her tone with the international staff.
Later I ran into the Apples having their portraits taken on board the cruise ship we shared. Her children, a boy and a girl, were beautiful. Mrs. Bad Apple snapped at the photographer and her family. If she would have known how unattractive her glossed Botox-injected lips looked while she fussed at everyone she would have been embarrassed. I wanted to throw darts at her just to relieve the tension.
Our last run-in was an interesting coincidence. After leaving the port, I found a long line that would return us to our car. As we stood in the hot sun waiting for the shuttle bus, along came the Apples. She dragged her children past the line to the front curb with a porter wheeling their bags. I ground my teeth as I watched the family surpass everyone waiting in line, expecting to be first on the bus. To my surprise and delight, and before I started throwing things, Mr. Apple motioned for his wife to get in the back of the line while he waited at the curb with their bags. An argument ensued. The missus stomped to the back of the line. Finally, after sweating for thirty minutes, the bus arrived. As it pulled into the lot, one of the Apples' children announced he had to potty. I thought Mrs. Bad Apple would bust a blood vessel. She took off her child, making it clear the shuttle was to wait. The rest of us loaded our luggage and boarded. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough room for the length of the line. Those in the back would have to wait for the next shuttle.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, we saw Mrs. Apple return to see the shuttle departing without her luggage or family on it. Her husband stood calmly at the curb waiting his turn. His wife…well I never got to hear the end of that story, and I'm thankful.
We all know there's no excuse for losing your cool in public or being impolite. At least we should. My biggest concern out of all of this experience is the image of my fellow countrymen when traveling abroad. I hope the international community understands Americans don't all act like spoiled children over mixed up food orders and long lines. Most of us love each other and believe in kindness and equality. I hope they've heard the expression, "There's a bad apple in every barrel," too. As far as Mrs. Bad Apple, perhaps she's never heard of Karma -- but that's a blog for another day.
Wishing you a wonderful Spring Break with no bad apples!