Chimps in the Parking Lot

I can’t sit quietly in a parking lot for five minutes without another human being engaging with me in a negative way. Why is this? I deliberately avoid engaging with strangers. But for some reason I’m weirdo bait.

Today was not the greatest of days. I spent the morning being therapeutically mauled, which was an exhausting and painful experience. As part of this process, I was given instructions for stretching and strengthening. Naturally, these called for more pieces of equipment: resistance bands and a medicine ball. Jonathan was told to try gel inserts. Fine. We’d go after lunch.

The first stop was CVS. Our destination? The foot care aisle. But upon getting out of the car I noticed a sticky substance along the floorboard of the driver’s side (I always drive; it works for us). A Hammer Gel, lodged in the door pocket, had exploded from the heat and leaked. So Jonathan went ahead while I took a few moments to clean up the mess.

I travel with paper towels, water and extra clothes in the trunk. Band-aids and a flashlight too. You’d think I’d been a Girl Scout, but I rejected that racket when I learned we had to sell cookies door to door.

Did you know that when you open the driver’s side door and then subsequently pull the trunk release lever on a 1997 Toyota Camry LE Sedan that this combination of actions will cause all of the doors to lock? I learned about this feature today.

There they were, on the passenger seat: my car keys, along with my bag containing my wallet, phone and iPod. I knew Jonathan had no car key because he never drives. I limped into CVS and gave him the bad news.

While I mulled over what to do (go to a pay phone and get a cab? Borrow someone’s phone and call Geico’s roadside assistance?) Jonathan was practically running away. Which was impressive since not only was he wearing sandals but he also has not been able to run for close to two months.

We were about 1.5 miles from home. He figured he could hoof it there and back with a car key in about 45 minutes. He was eager to solve this problem. I was experiencing mounting pain in my hip again, as I’d forgotten to take a painkiller. Off he went before I could think about alternatives. As I watched his retreating figure I wondered if he’d remembered to bring his house keys.

So now I had to kill 45 minutes. I had no money, no form of distraction and I was in pain. I made my way over to the edge of the parking lot, found a shady spot and sat on the curb. This was pathetic. I played with my watch and observed fat people going in and out of Dunkin’ Donuts.

Then, excitement. A kid, about 17, came blasting across the lot on one of those Razor scooters. He attempted to use a smoothed over section of curb as a ramp and proceeded to fall ass over teakettle right in front of me. He lay immobile on his back for a few seconds, then got up and looked at me with a combination of anger and sheepishness.

“Are you alright?” I said, more out of obligation than concern. Asking this made me feel old all of a sudden. Matronly.

He picked up the scooter and sulked off.

Three minutes later he returned, looking very agitated. He disappeared among the storefronts, then returned to the scene of his accident.

He asked me a question, which I thought was “Did you see me fall?”

Oh, great, I thought. He’s thinking of suing CVS and wants a witness. Why me? I also thought this was an incredibly dumb question. Of course I saw him fall.

“Uh, yes.” I offered.

“Well, where is it?”

This confused me.

“What? Where’s what?”

“My phone.”

“Oh.” This kid needed elocution lessons. “Your phone. No, I thought you asked if I saw you fall. I haven’t seen your phone.”

This enraged him. He raised the scooter and hurled it to the ground. “FUCK!!!!”

Okay, so now I know I’m dealing with a chimpanzee and not a bonobo.

“I lost my fucking phone!” He starts frantically looking under the shrubbery, continuing his rant. “The person standing next to me when I find it is going to get it. I’m going to shoot up everyone in this place.”

O. Kay. Time to get over to where more people are.

But I can’t walk without looking like a spastic. I lurch and wince. I suddenly have a reluctance to appear weak. I don’t want to be the injured gazelle that gets taken down.

So I just sit there, waiting to see what he’ll do next.

He stomps off again, searching for his phone.

By the time he returns for a third look around, I’ve managed to hop my way over to the Dunkin’ Donuts entrance, where I lean in the blazing sun. This he finds suspicious. I worry that he’s going to come over and demand his phone. I’m ready to tell him to fuck off because I’m having a worse day than he is, and let the chips fall where they may.

He leaves me alone. Minutes later, Jonathan shows up, now in running shoes, with keys. He’s run the 1.5 miles back. He says his legs feel very fresh. He’s not angry or annoyed, as I thought he’d be. He seems, if anything, perky. The day’s looking up.

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