Try as might-head remains onBy Steve Estes
Another from the files of the strange but true, can’t-believe-this-could-happen, department. That department, by the way, is located just off your left shoulder, in a land parallel to our own, in a place called The Twilight…. oops.
I made the mistake of trying to stop by the grocery store last week during rush hour. We all know when rush hour is at the grocery store. The 4,500 of us on this island who have to work for a living get off work, need a thing or two for dinner, and drop by the store to get it.
There are two hundred cars in the parking lot, nowhere to park except the last slot in the puddle still there from the last rain. There are four cashiers in the store and 1,000 customers. Now, these numbers may be exaggeration, but the impression is dead on.
I finally made it through the line. By the time we stop to talk to people we meet in the store, wind our way through the aisles, find what we need, talk to more people, get in a line, wait for the folks in front to get done, talk to some more people, and get through the line, an hour has passed.
So I’m carrying my one small bag of last-minute items out to the Corvette, skipping past the puddles, dodging the chickens, pirouetting past sailing shopping carts, and generally making a real attempt at avoiding bodily injury.
I was forced to walk past this large SUV with its back door open. Of course, that meant a five-foot long canopy for protection from the sun. At the same time, a large van came up the lane, paying no attention to the drive-on-the-right-side-of-the-road convention upon which motorized travel has been based in this country since the advent of cars.
The onrushing van, which was paying little attention to pedestrians, intent instead on finding a parking space that would accommodate the huge vehicle, forced me into very close proximity with the SUV–so close in fact, that I nearly had to walk into the lady that was putting groceries into the back end of the vehicle in a very hurried manner.
It all happened in a matter of a minute or so. The van stopped. The lady was done. I should have sensed impending doom, but for some strange reason my sixth sense that warns me of such things had decided to take the afternoon off and was asleep at the wheel.
Apparently the lady packing groceries didn’t see me a foot from her trying to get through. She dropped in the last bag, turned away, and promptly began to slam the SUV door on my head.
There haven’t been many times in my life when I have been happy I wasn’t born overly tall. This was one of them.
Had I been four inches taller, I probably would have been going to the hospital to have my head sewn back on. As it was, I am just short enough to get my hand up in time to stop the door from whacking me on the head.
Now here comes the strange but true entry.
The lady still hadn’t turned around, but when she didn’t hear her door slam, she reached back and gave it another tug, trying in her best Lizzie Borden imitation to separate my head from my shoulders.
I was too startled to speak. I couldn’t even grunt. Evolution had left me behind for that instant. She heard my hand hit the door. She turned. She stared. I started scrambling out of the way. She actually backed up a step and…put….more….weight into the door to get it to shut.
I’m just truly glad she wasn’t a large lady because that would have meant that I would probably still be looking for the remnants of my brain somewhere in the grocery store parking lot.
As it was, I could scramble out of the way before she did any real damage while clutching my small bag of now not-so-important items and stooping over like an old crane (the human kind) while I shuffled out of the way.
And oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the van had picked those short moments to stop where it was and try to back into the space next to us.
Of course, that was the space I had to shuffle into to keep from getting beaned with the now rapidly moving SUV back hatch.
And I’m not sure in the chaos of the moment who actually wasn’t paying attention. I tend to think that my attention was probably elsewhere as I breathed a sigh of relief that my head was actually still attached to my shoulders.
Or perhaps the van driver figured that once he had cleared a space, nothing could crop up in it again untl he was done with it.
The van driver finally saw me. Or I saw him. Either way I slammed on the sandal brakes and he slammed on the van brakes.
We were both looking for blood when the SUV door slammed shut.
I couldn’t help myelf. I felt myself up looking for broken bones or bleeding lacerations.
I found none. I grinned sheepishly at the Van driver. He made me proud.
I didn’t have to give the lady slamming the SUV hatch the single-digit salute. The van driver did it for me.