November 08, 2005

It was the Teenager in the Parking Lot with the Shopping Carts

The parking lot of the grocery store was dark. As I left my car to walk toward the building, I noticed a teenage boy putting together a long line of shopping carts. I could only see the silhouette of the boy, but he looked familiar. I assumed that he was probably someone I knew, one of Boy in Black's friends, perhaps. As I walked past, he gave the shopping carts a shove. Because the parking lot is on an incline, the whole line of carts began rolling toward me. Rolling pretty fast.

Because I thought the boy was someone I knew, I figured that he had pushed the carts on purpose, sort of as joke. Inside my head, this made sense. I pretended not to see them. The carts rolled toward me, rattling and clanking, picking up speed.

"Watch out!" The boy yelled. He started chasing them, but they were out of his reach by then. This big connected mass of twisted metal came barreling toward me, chugging along like an out-of-control freight train. Just before they reached me, it occurred to my sleepy brain that I ought to react, and I jumped out of the way.

The boy came rushing up, grabbing the metal carts, using his full weight to get them to screech to a stop. Then he ran over to me.

"Oh, my god, I'm sorry," he said.

I looked at him and realized that he was not anyone I knew. And he was visibly upset. In that split second, I saw the scene from his eyes: he had almost run down a woman with a bunch of shopping carts. Perhaps in the dark he mistook me for a frail elderly person with a hearing problem, one who could have been seriously hurt by a fast-moving line of metal carts. Perhaps, for an instant, he had the fear he was going to kill some little old lady with a bunch of evil shopping carts.

I wanted to say something to explain to him that I had mistaken him for someone I knew and the teenage boys I know like to tease me and that they would probably do stuff like pretend to push shopping carts at me and that I had seen the carts in plenty of time and that I didn't mean to scare him by waiting until the last possible second to jump out of the way. But even inside my head, that explanation seemed too long and weird, and when I opened my mouth, I just started laughing.

The boy apologized again. I tried to talk but instead, I kept laughing. I didn't want to laugh, because I could see he felt bad, but trying not to laugh just makes me laugh more. He kept apologizing, and I kept laughing.

Finally, he gave up trying to talk, and he too started laughing. We both just stood there in the semi-dark parking lot, facing each other, laughing. I never did say even one single word. Then I walked, still smiling, towards the store, while he went after the rest of the grocery carts.

16 comments:

Jesse said...

That was an unexpected story.

From the post title I assumed it was going to be about someone hitting your car in a parking lot and blaming it on teenagers.

But this was a much nicer story.

RussianViolets said...

I was thinking what Jesse was thinking, and I'm so glad that it was not that. :-)

Ianqui said...

But even inside my head, that explanation seemed too long and weird, and when I opened my mouth, I just started laughing.

This is what Super G and I call "too much explanatory overhead". I can understand not wanting to explain the whole thing to the boy.

Songbird said...

I expected something else, too. What a good writer you are. (Which isn't news, but I just wanted to say it.)

Phantom Scribbler said...

He's lucky you have good reflexes. I would have stood there like a deer in headlights and been smacked straight-on.

Nor would I have written about it so well afterwards!

Yankee T said...

I know he was so relieved that you were laughing instead of screaming at him! Great post.

Teri said...

i thought your car had been hit by the carts, too.

Friday Mom said...

So it wasn't Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick?

jo(e) said...

Friday Mom: I wondered if anyone would get the title.

Teri: My car gets banged by shopping carts all the time, and it doesn't bother me. I drive an old car and a few more dents don't much matter.

Sue said...

What a great post! The young man, once he stopped apologizing, went away with a great story to tell his friends....."There was this nice lady, and she just laughed and laughed..."

Running2Ks said...

You gave him a real gift, by laughing. That was really sweet of you.

sheepish said...

I love moments like this, where everybody just spontaneously starts laughing about how silly a situation is.

halloweenlover said...

Too funny. He was probably just standing there waiting for you to scream at him, such a welcome surprise.

I love Ianqui's description- too much explanatory overhead.

ccw said...

Glad you are ok and were not mowed down by the carts.

I'm sure the boy was relieved that you were not angry; although I wonder if he thought something was wrong with you since all you did was laugh and laugh?

Julie said...

Lovely vignette. Thank you.

Julie said...

And lovely new look!