I worked with a woman who wouldn’t wear a cross necklace. The cross is a pagan symbol, she said, and wearing a cross to represent Jesus or God was idolatry. She was an active member of a church; as a single woman, church was her life. If I asked her what she did on the week-end, Saturday was generally devoted to a women’s missionary society or church cleanup. There was no question about where she would be on Sunday.
I’m not sure I agree about the cross stuff, but I don’t wear one either. I am not a nice enough person to wear a symbol so closely allied with Christian love. Seriously. I am usually kind to people I love. But my bi-polar pendulum swings from Margaret the Nice to Margaret the Snit. Usually, unwitting sales clerks and customer service reps get the brunt of my snittiness.
The other day, I needed to run into Walmart to get a can of primer/spray paint. They lock up the paint and there was no-Walmart-body watching the home improvement section. I circled the aisles and ventured to hunting and fishing. Nobody there. Moved over to crafts. Not a soul with a blue name tag. Started getting annoyed. Walked over to electronics. Ten or twelve folks mobbed the lone clerk at the electronics counter trying to do their Christmas shopping over their lunch break.
Magnanimous Me debated raising my hands to part the electronic buyers like Moses parting the waters. After all, I only needed someone to unlock the paint cage and MY needs would “only take a minute.” I decided to make that Plan B and moved on. Nobody in home goods or shoes.
I was really steamed by the time I burst into the employee lounge and asked the room full of people celebrating Joshua’s birthday if “ANYBODY IS WORKING TODAY.” I led a couple of workers out of the room and stalked over to the spray paint. Ten feet from the lunchroom, I felt embarrassed. In sight of the paint, I was glad that I don’t wear a cross or any type of jewelry that allies me to a specific philosophy. I ended up apologizing but I had already generated bad feelings.
I am much nicer today than I was before I got sober. Back in the day, hangovers could render me mean as a snake on rocks. I was closer to Margaret the Raging Insano if things didn’t go my way and people didn’t snap to when I demanded help. It was during that time that I planned Sunday School lessons with a jelly glass of vodka. I always wore a cross then. If anyone had suggested that the jewelry did not match my morals, I would have been insulted.
As a sober women, I try to remember that I am the only Big Book that some folks will encounter. I am often tempted to put a sticker with the AA symbol of a triangle inside a circle on my bumper so those of my tribe will recognize another member, but I don’t drive well enough. I would rather avoid causing resentments which my erratic driving is prone to do. The people who would recognize what the symbol represents are people I might run into at a meeting.
It amazes me that the way other people treat me influences my mood and self worth. As I’ve gotten older, being called “sweety” or “honey” by someone less than half my age makes me feel ancient. I curse myself for every time I’ve done that to someone older than I. I’ve done it often so I probably have a considerable amount of cosmic blow-back.
I took a friend to the mall to buy clothes for a job search. This was the first time that she was applying for work at what she called a “clean” job. I was uncomfortable with sales clerks who were dismissive and wanted to cheer the ones who were enthusiastic and supportive. We ran into a string of them and I watched my friend’s walk go from timid to regal as we left with her purchases. Those women had no idea what an impact they had, but I did.
Do I need a symbol showing what I believe? More likely, I just need to BE the symbol that represents what I believe. I sometimes need the reminder, but that’s why I hang out with others of my sober tribe. I prefer to act like God’s friend rather than somebody who has never met God. Fewer apologies and amends that way.