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12.21.2006

Dear Nona, You're Hazardous to My Health

I hear the older you get, the more impatient you become. I don't know if it's that, or if it's simply the older I get, the more I'm exposed to increasingly infuriating circumstances. Aside from traffic and annoying people and unsmart people, which could very well be one in the same, Publix is my new most likely place to develop an aneurysm. At least on Thursday afternoons.

I went grocery shopping today, on an empty stomach no less. Always ill-advised for what you'll buy with your stomach and not your brain or wallet. But add to the list a decrease in mental stamina. This fatigue wears on you like you're a pitbull's new chew toy. At least when you're grocery shopping with 90 year olds.

I've never seen so many motorized vehicles indoors before. The Department of Motor Vehicles is going to be getting some letters from me; they really need to require licenses for these things. At least some guidelines. No kids. No blind people. No almost blind people who can't hear or turn their heads 45 degrees either direction. I had SEVERAL near-death experiences today. I might have even peed my pants once. These old people are ruthless. Or clueless. Equally hazardous. Who commits vehicular manslaughter inSIDE Publix? About 4 people today almost did. How are there THAT many motorized carts anyway? Is there a motorized cart dealership around the corner I haven't seen yet? I know I almost ran over two handicapped people in one day because I'm not used to so many motorized carts moseying around town. I see it's a more rampant problem than first assumed.

I walked down aisles and each side would be road-blocked. Opposite sides of the aisle they park. They criss-crossed each other. They'd sit there oblivious to normal social rules of etiquette, existence, decency, LOGIC. Partly because at 90 years old their sight is going, they'd just stare at the shelves. Or maybe they were on their way to picking up the items from the shelves, but they're just SO SLOW that you can't see them moving. Or maybe the nonagenarians are oblivious to the rest of humanity because they have no clue from any of their failing senses that mankind still exists.

I tried to make a turn out of one aisle into the main area by the meats, and I was stuck for a minute and a half. That's valuable grocery time. Wasted on what? Not decisions or poor cashiers and baggers. Not parking or getting a new, cleaner, less-sticky buggy. Not coupons or even drying off from the vegetable sprinklers. Wasted on waiting. I wasted away a little bit today. And might have had an aneurysm in the process. I know my blood pressure spiked. I was tachycardic. All while I just sat there. No flashers. No blinkers. No brakes. Just people, old and focused, parked until they've gotten what they set out to find. You can't say excuse me. They don't hear you. You can't make eye contact, a polite smile or callous scowl. They don't see you. You can't go around. They've managed, with 90 years' experience under their belts, to blockade you better than JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet somehow, if you attempt to move their cart, they know. It's the only sense still working effectively for them. Their 6th sense of cart mechanics and whereabouts. Blind and deaf, with brittle bones and an acute sense of where their motorized cart is at all times. Unreal.

I had to wait to get hamburger because the entire hamburger section was occupied. Twice I turned around and faced the Honey Nut Oats and Bran display. Deep breaths. Counting to a trillion. Digging my fingernails into my own flesh. All the usual ways to compose yourself. All because a man and his wife EACH had a motorized cart. HOW ON EARTH IS THAT LEGAL? Besides the traffic mess it creates indoors, the congestion and backup, the logistics of maneuvering within such a confined space, the havoc it wreaks on your life. HOW IS THAT LEGAL for two people to need motorized carts at the same time? Compassion dictates they are each entitled to one. But NOT AT THE SAME TIME. NOT TOGETHER. How did they GET HERE??! Who's driving the motorized vehicle in the life and death game of chicken on Highway 520?

Apparently we all are. Lucky for them. They're clueless.

The sad thing, or maybe the most frustrating thing about today, is that I was more likely to have had a heart attack in the store than any ONE of them. I was less rattled when my tired exploded just off the interstate a few days ago than I was today (Big thanks by the way, to the woman with the tow truck who helped me figure out my weird jack. And not a big thanks to the man in the other tow truck with the two green front teeth who just watched me change my tire in the rain and puddles.). Today I felt like cattle herded off to the slaughter. The mental pain. The anguish. The claustrophobia. The slowness. The imminence. The hopelessness. The impulse to scream bloody murder or attempt it on any of these nonagenarians who kept ME from MY goal: Efficiency. I was marching, my purpose rendered meaningless, in whatever direction they wanted me to go. I was dominated by 90 year old women. I was emasculated. In essence, I was neutered.

A Grocery Shopping Eunuch.

2 comments:

Barry said...

You're a really great writer Brent. I guess I didn't know that until I started reading your blog a few weeks ago. What was your major again? Why not get a job where you do some sort of creative writing? You should work for Relevant Magazine somehow. They're practically right next door to you. Maybe they need a humor column or you could write for their new Latino publication: Los Relevante PeriĆ³dico. You would also fit right in on their podcast if you can come up with the kind of comedic gold posted here just off the top of your head in normal conversation.

But you should also chill out about the old people. You choose to live in Florida; they come with the territory. I kept waiting for some redeeming social or spiritual commentary towards the end -- like "then I realized, I'm just as blind and slow spiritually sometimes as bla, bla, bla..." -- but it never came! Nope, just more of your festering hatred of the elderly.

Brent said...

thanks for the nice words barry. i'd love to write for the spanish relevant magazine. haha.

ps. i do now realize i am just as blind and slow spiritually sometimes as the nonagenarians. thanks for the revelation. you're like a modern day apostle. ha.