I popped into a local hardware store, on assignment for work, and the following conversation ensued: "So, you're a reporter for the paper?" asked a begrudging employee. He's about due for retirement. Or a haircut. Hard to tell.

"Yes," I replied, wary. I'm not sure if it was the notebook or camera that gave me away. Or the fact that I said, "I'm a reporter with the newspaper."

"Will you tell them they need to edit the paper better?"

"Sure." I was previously in the mood to chat, but funny how that mood disappears upon insult.

"And the photos are awful," he continued. "I mean, I'd be embarrassed."

I stared blankly at the man, who's probably worked at the hardware store his whole life.


"Yeah, so," he kept going. Apparently no one taught him how to assemble the filter on his mouth. "I guess you didn't expect to be harassed when you came over here."

"Can't say that I did." The words were stale in my mouth. I wanted to hit.

"Saturday's paper was the worst," his motor continued. "The pictures looked like crap."

At this point I began to promptly walk away in the direction I was previously headed. I had to bite my tongue in order to keep myself from asking the man to multiply 4 and 7, or to spell "condescending."

But I gave him a free pass. After all, his career was the hardware store.

Seriously. Don't mess with me.