Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Passive-Agressive Hybrids

Saving the environment and running down neighbors. Thanks Toyota!
My neighbors are former nuns, and we get along quite well.
Two years ago, they moved here from a Wisconsin farm. They're...well...a little crunchy, but we get along very well. Years of dealing with a Granola sister has taught me how to speak the language. It's pretty easy.
Last year, after one of their 15 year old cars died, they bought a new Toyota Prius. Beautiful car, and pretty Earth-friendly. It also hurts like hell when it hits you.
Saturday...a day of rest for most teachers. My wife and son were inside asleep after a big day of playing.
I went outside to finish cleaning out the garage for Winter (who knew we'd have a heat wave).
As I walked back up the shared driveway toward my door to my house, my neighbors came home from...well...I have no idea where they were. We didn't discuss it.
The Toyota was headed right for me. I thought she was kidding, so I kept walking toward my door. It wasn't until they got closer that I saw that the driver (we'll call her Penny) wasn't looking at me, but at her roommate (who we'll call Lori).
I'd love to say that in a heroic move, I dove out of the way...but I can't.
Now, I attempted to lessen the blow by jumping up on the hood of the car as it hit me doing maybe 10 to 15 MPH.
Here's the thing: If you've ever been hit by a car...it hurts. Regardless of the speed, the sudden impact hurts. It's physics. An object at rest that is struck by an object in movement will feel or show an impact.
Let's try it another way:
Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone...it's going to be bad for the pitcher.
I'm the pitcher.
I lay across the hood sprawled out like a dead and gutted deer. Penny screamed and slammed the brakes, but I was clutching onto the top of the hood, so I did not go flying.
"OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD!!!!" I hear screamed. "Are you ok? OHMYGOD!!!"
My pride, once again, is hurt. It was only two days before that I was hit in a car...now I was hit...by a person.
My brain's first thought was actually not the pain I was in, but the thought about the deer.
"I wonder if this is how the deer feels," I thought.

The screaming continued from inside the car, but I stil couldn't get the image of the deer out of my head.
Penny, obviously flustered, tried to get out of the car without putting it in park. Her foot came out, and the car lurched forward again. Luckily Lori moved quickly to hit the brakes and put on the emergency brake.
The pain started to creep in to my body. I could tell the my right leg took most of the damage.
"Are you ok?" Penny said to me while trying to help me off the car.
"Leg hurts...and my back is starting to as well," I told her.
Lori, meanwhile, having put the car in park, proceeded to inspect the car. "Car looks ok..." she mumbled.
Penny, meanwhile, had turned white. I think she was afraid that I was really hurt.
Being the stupid, macho guy I am (I can admit it), I told her, "I'm fine."
But I wasn't. In fact I still have a slight limp today.
What's even funnier is that my wife and son didn't know until a few hours later (when I had trouble moving around) that something had happened.
Still...days later and I can't get that image of me as the deer out of my mind. I couldn't tell you why, but it's odd.
I mention the John Glenn Principle all the time, and this speaks to that principle. I got in a car accident, and I was fine. Doing the most mundane thing (walking up my driveway, for Pete's sake), I get hit by a car.
Then again, what do I know? I'm a Prius Hugger. I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Black (and Blue) Friday

I'm back.
I know I teased great stories...which I'll get to, but I have to talk about the rest of my weekend. There's just...so much.
I'm starting to believe that Mr.
Willoughby is right: The world is coming to an end. Not in the whole "Jesus comes down from the mountain" way. No...I think the end is coming from us. Black Friday is the perfect example.
I usually make it a rule: The day after Thanksgiving, I board up the house and hide. Unfortunately, my wife forgot to pack my son's saline spray which he needs for his nebulizing (He has lung issues right now). This meant that ole Leab had to go to Target (where his prescription is) to get it.
You have to understand: the town my wife's parents live in is a Wal-Mart town. There is a Target, but it's behind the Home Depot and only the "fancy rich-folk" go there. Much like King of the Hill, there are people who stand outside the Target talking about the death of the Mom and Pop Shops.
"Yep...place like this takes away our jobs....I'm out of chips...be right back."
Because I had to go out anyway, my wife's mother asked me for a favor:
"Could you please stop at Big Lot's and look for this camera? It's for your father-in-law's mother."
Now I get along pretty well with my mother-in-law, and I like my father-in-law's mother as she understands the feelings I have about Missouri, so I said yes...like an idiot.
8 AM on Friday. The store looks empty as I park.
Once I walk in, however, it's a different story. There are people literally crawling up the walls (on the shelves, of course) to grab the sale items. I don't see the camera, so I ask the store clerk by the door.
"Oh my...we sold out of those by 6:15. You should have been here like everyone else. The REAL shoppers were here then."
"Oh well," I replied. "Doesn't hurt to try."
"You snooze you lose," the clerk says. "You should have been here at 5 like everyone else."
"I really couldn't care. I just thought I would ask," I say, but the clerk has already moved on to someone else.
As I start to move around to leave the store, I see a DVD setup that's cheap. It's a Progressive Scan player marked down to $30. I know my brother-in-law wants one, so I pick it up to look at it.
After a few seconds, I hear a whoosh, and then my head starts to hurt. WHAM! Then again, WHAM!
"I saw it first, you fucker!" I hear screamed.
"What the hell?!" I scream back.
I turn and see a woman a half a foot shorter than me sizing me up with her purse for another hit. My hands shoot out to block her, but she's too quick, and she hits me in my groin. I'm not kidding.
"What...the...FUCK?!" I breathe out.
"I SAW IT FIRST! You took it out of my hands! It's mine!" She screams. She points to the DVD player I am clutching because my body is seizing while trying to get through the pain.
She rips the player from my hands and starts toward the checkout.
Here's the amazing part: NO ONE DOES ANYTHING!
The manager comes over and helps me up.
"Are you all right?" He asks me.
"Yeah," I say as the wave of nausea passes, "But why didn't you or anyone else help me?"
"Look," he starts, "It's our biggest shopping day. You aren't bleeding either. Were you planning on buying the player?"
"No, but..."
"No. You weren't. Look, I saw you pull up in the car from...what is that...Minnesota? You're not from here. If I file a complaint, if I call the cops...you'll probably lose. You aren't from here...and she is. She's a well-known resident and well liked. Her husband's an ex-Fire Marshall. Just....Just let it go."
That's life on Black Friday.
But wait...it gets worse.
With my dignity hovering around my stomach, I hobbled back to my car and drove to Target.
It's here that I see humanity at its worse. People were pushing around packed carts buying stuff they would never need or use. Who buys fourteen bottles of Shampoo? Just because they're on sale? Sigh.
The creme de la creme, however, is when the partrons discovered the one unbought Playstation 3 (shows you how backwoods or off the beaten path this place is). Two customers saw it and each grabbed a worker to try and get it. They arrived at the same time. It started as a shouting match.
"I was here first."
"NO, I was!"
Then it degenerated.
"If you think you're getting the machine, I'll fucking kill you!"
"Is that a threat? I'm calling the cops!" and out comes a cell phone.
The other person saw the phone and slapped it out of the first person's hand.
I was transfixed. It was like watching a car accident. You want to look away, but your have to see it.
Slowly, the phone spun on the floor. As it stopped, the phone's owner looked at the phone on the floor...to the person who hit it...to the crowd...to the machine...back to the floor...then, as if overcome with a bloodlust, he screamed as he tackled the other person. The hands flew from both people. The two Target workers were screaming into their radios.
The rent-a-cops...uh...I mean Security Detail...moved as fast as their fat bodies could move them, but even they weren't sure what to do.
I went home and told my wife and mother-in-law this. To her credit, my wife hugged me, my son cooed, and my mother-in-law gave me an ice bag.
So why does this illustrate Tom's point?
Because we go to "war", we shoot each other, we beat each other over material goods that will be forgotten rather quickly after December 25th (or after the Eighth Day). Parents pay 300% on a Tickle Me Elmo in order to not disappoint little Johnny or Joanie.
I love my son, but I'm not getting up at 2 in the morning in order to get him a toy. He can deal. Plus, I really hope he'll learn why that toy isn't the end all be all of life.
We lament when we don't get the things we want. You can't really get all of us to vote or help the homeless, but we'll destroy others in order to get that cheap DVD player.
Isn't apathy the beginning of the downfall of civilization?
Am I overreacting here?
Have the multiple blows to the head left me without a true perception of life?
You tell me. All I know is the following:
1. NEVER again am I going out on Black Friday (and I couldn't even get my son's Saline as the damn pharmacy shut down for the day to, and I quote, "keep the aisles from being cluttered").
2. I wish I could have kicked the crap out of both the people in Target, taken the PS3, and donated it to the battered kids shelter nearby.
3. Hit the woman back. I don't care if she's old, you hit below the belt, and I believe in equal rights. I see you again, you go down, bitch!
4. If we value the material possessions of our life more than the intangibles, we start to forget who we are. I'm not talking about God here, folks. I'm talking about family, love, sunrises, pets, intelligence, etc.
Then again, what do I know? I'm the guy rolling in pain in aisle five. I could be wrong.