I was about run over today on the way to the supermarket. I was signaling a left turn and yielding the right of way to a Chevy Tahoe turning right into the same aisle. Instead of turning right down the lane, he veered right across the parking spots and slowed down to a halt, trying to cross the lane.

I cautiously turned in as he idled there. But as I continued, he started again, and I braked hard to avoid him. And then he stopped, right in my way.

Appalled at this, I cursed this inconvenience, and then muttered something less dramatic, but still ostentatiously philosophical, like

the face in the window, who did not acknowledge my ontological status as a human being….

(….blah blah blah, as if the codger in the Tahoe were some kind of Nazi, relegating me to sub-human.) 

Still, a gesture would have been nice. He could have nodded or demurred—something, anyway, to let me know that he knows I’m there below him. I was facing his side (the left side) of his car. He was looking at me, or through me, I couldn’t tell, but there was no communication there. 

And so he drove on and I drove on and we parked. I steamed down the grocery aisles for the next half hour, until I settled and finally found what I was after. 

At the checkout, all the lines were stacked, so I chose just any old lane and leaned there as things crept along. 

An assortment of banal tabloid headlines, something like: “Britney Bingeing and Purging to Lose Twenty-Five Pounds”

Behind me, an old couple were unloading their groceries onto the belt. She nagged at him to grab a divider.

“Where is it?” 

“In the slot.”

I reached out and gave it to the man, who was unable to find it. (To his credit, he was old, and the black divider was resting in a black slot with the white stripe down. So it kind of blended in, I guess.) 

As I passed it to him, I realized it was the codger who’d cut me off, or, as I had mused, denied my existence. My irritation recommenced to see this man, this coot, who oughtn’t be on the road, and certainly not in such a bruiser of an SUV.  

“You must be the guy who knows the ropes around here,” he said to me.

“Yeah,” I managed, “but I’ve never made friends with that self-checkout. I’d rather deal with a human being.”

“Got that right.” 

I looked at him a little closer and confirmed it was him. But as I looked at his face, I saw that his left eye was shriveled, or absent, and the lid was closed over it. His good eye didn’t look much better, but at least it was there. But I guess there was no way in hell he could have seen me out in the parking lot. 

And so I simmered down and chatted with him. He was a hilarious old bastard. I didn’t mention the miscommunication in the parking lot. Maybe he did recognize me. I couldn’t be sure. But he saw me that time, and I wasn’t angry anymore.

 

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