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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
Take a Deep, Deep Breath
By David
Posted October 22, 2010

I'm sitting in my car in a supermarket parking lot reviewing the last of my email on my phone. I'm particularly pleased that I don't need to respond to any of the email and everything seems to be nice and calm on the work front. It's Friday afternoon at Gelson's and I'm about to start my weekly grocery shopping with a clear mind and an anticipation of a good start to the weekend.

All of a sudden a man appears by the passenger side of my car wheeling an empty shopping cart and I figure that he's done with his shopping, has packed the contents of his cart into his car, and he's now en route to the shopping cart return area. In a split second, though, I realize I was wrong.

The man pushes the empty shopping cart to a random location that is right in front of my car, abandons the cart and promptly turns around, walks away, and gets into his own car which is parked right alongside mine. He appears ready to drive away leaving the cart hanging in a particularly precarious position no more than a foot from my right headlight.

I stare at the cart in disbelief, then back at the man, then back at the cart. The man seems oblivious at best, and malicious at worst, and I feel my blood starting to boil. I recall the cartoons from my childhood in which the character starts to gradually turn red from his feet to his head, then steam coming out of his ears as the sound of a tea kettle whistle erupts loudly. I'm majorly pissed.

I click my phone to the off mode, open my door and get out of my car. I circle around the front, and quickly grab the empty cart before even the slightest breeze would cause it to smash into my headlight and fender, likely causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage, and requiring several annoying phone calls to my insurance company, and multiple visits to the inevitable body shop.

Weirdos, whackos, and rolling shopping carts
Weirdos, whackos, and rolling shopping carts

I glare at the man who is seated in his car a few feet ahead of me and proceed directly to him, while aggressively wheeling the cart towards his car. Let him share some of my concerns about needing automotive body work. Why should I be the only one having all the fun?

With a few steps I reach him and find that his window is fully rolled down. Perfect. As I arrive, he mutters to himself something about how idiotic it was to move the cart which was carefully placed by him in a secure position.

I should really stop here and explain that, in my opinion, one of the most important ingredients of a pleasant existence is the meticulous avoidance of interaction with whackos and weirdos. With this in mind, I'm usually 99% successful at evading the unsavory, but not today.

Hearing the word "idiotic" and "carefully placed," a certain scene plays out in my mind. In the scene, I reach through the open window of his car, and start to yank him out of the car by his throat while half his body is painfully lodged half way in and halfway out of the rather small window. But, of course, as a married man, father of two, and... sane person, instead of turning my thoughts into reality, I ask him what he was thinking by placing a shopping cart standing just inches away from the front of my car.

"It was secure and it was idiotic of you to move it."

There goes that word again. I take a deep breath.

"But the shopping cart has wheels, mister," I patiently explain. "Of course it would have rolled into my car. What were you thinking?"

"You didn't need to move it," he insists.

Well, of course not... He wouldn't be the one stuck shelling out lots of money to fix the damage and dealing with untold amounts of aggravation, it would be me.

By now I start to take note of a few things. I estimate the man to be in his middle fifties, hair somewhat unkempt, and I also notice that he was missing at least two front teeth, maybe more.

The old heavily dented car he was driving was no doubt a testament to his fine judgment and resulting success in life. I could only guess at the very merry circumstances under which he lost those teeth, and how long he's been toothless.

Once I realized whom I was dealing with, it felt somewhat awkward even standing there debating the finer points of the probability of shopping cart slippage, so I decide to abruptly end the ridiculous debate and walk away. My anger turns into pity for the man, and I decide to shrug it off and get back to the task at hand, which is starting my excellent weekend with some premium chow from Gelson's.

After walking about 20 yards I reach the entrance of the supermarket and prepare to enter, when I heard the man yelling at me.

"You friggin' idiot," he shouts and peels out of the parking lot with a loud tire screech, nearly running over a group of hapless pedestrians in the process.

I shake my head and laugh as I proceed into the supermarket and my sympathy for the man instantly dissipates.

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