Last week I made the mad dash to the big box store, and even though it was fairly early morning and not the end of the month, the parking lot was buzzing. I made a couple of turns up and down the rows, when the closest spot I found was just past the mid-section and had a black SUV on one side and a buggy on the line of the other. Ahead of me several cars were backed up, waiting to pull into traffic so they could search other lanes for parking spaces. I made a decision…I had more room in the space between the buggy and the SUV than I did on the far side of the buggy, so I pulled forward, prepared to edge my big old Queenmobile (different story, folks, but it’s definitely a geezer car) into this open space when a spry fashion-grandmother type whipped around the SUV and carefully placed her buggy smack dab in the middle of my parking space.
I considered the options…I could pull forward, making a couple of more lane turns, or I could try to back past, lets see, the space where there was not enough room, the shopping cart corral, and finally past an open parking space, provided someone didn’t bushwhack me from behind, getting us all involved in a fender bender.
I didn’t like those options, so I chose the most rational thing I could think of. This woman, obviously well-groomed and cultured, surely just hadn’t seen me, so I beeped to let her know I was fixing (a nice Southern word) to use that space. Beep, beep. Just like the road runner, but with less emphasis, thus much more gentile.
The woman looked up and snarled at me. Twisted her face most unlady-like and seemed to mouth the word What? As in, what could I possibly want from her?
In situations like that I’ve been known to take offense, because obviously this woman was breaking the rules and I was right, and so she was putting her personal agenda ahead of my legitimate needs and rights. Right? But for some reason I could see her agitation out of all proportion to what she might perceive as my offense (though the offense was all on her part, having chosen to be an outlaw) and I could hear my little road runner beep beep, all prim and proper and prissy-mouthed. I cracked up laughing. Don’t know why. Just started belly laughing and gave in, pulled forward, foregoing the imagined reverse fender bender, not even dismayed that now I was in the inching flow of traffic again. Suddenly two parking slots opened up next to the handicapped spaces, the two nearest parking spots to the entrance for anyone without a handicapped symbol on her license plate.
As I pulled in my choice parking space, the black SUV passed behind me. It had tags for the county next to mine, the county whose largest city had 2,100 people in the 2000 census, while our very town had 21,000. Maybe she just didn’t know how to act in town. Perhaps this poor woman had a momma sick in a nursing home, or maybe she just found out her unmarried daughter was pregnant or her husband was sleeping with his secretary, or she had to get home because the bridge club was due at her house at any minute.
Maybe even if I had taken offence those parking spaces would have opened up, but I would have spent precious time being pissed at some woman I didn’t know. I personally like to think that the Universe loves sharing a good joke. And a rolling belly laugh? That great feeling lasts a long time.