Just Now at Walmart

I was driving down an aisle in the parking lot, and had to stop before taking a parking space on my right because a woman and child were walking in front of it. As I was stopped, a black truck to my left was pulling out of its stall, approaching my car. I pulled forward slightly to try to make my car more visible to the driver of the truck. He pressed on his break, and stopped just short of my passenger door.

I thought nothing of this and went ahead and parked. However, when I emerged from my car, the black truck was parked behind me. The driver yelled across his wife who was in the passenger seat at me: “Next time, you better watch where you are going.”

At this point, I quite honestly thought to myself something like: “what an ironic and strange way to apologize for almost hitting me.” So, thinking I was in on the joke, I shot the driver a grin. I could tell by his facial expression in response that his words were not having their desired effect. So, then, again quite honestly, I said “Oh my God, are you being serious?”

I was clearly not expressing the kind of remorse for having been in his way that the driver thought was proper at this point, because he reached up and violently shifted his truck into park, clearly indicating an intent to get our and teach me not use a parking lot where he was driving.

In my state of confusion, I apparently decided that the problem here was that he had forgotten what had just happened. So I proffered the following description: “I was just driving down the aisle, and you almost backed into me.”

The driver did not appear to find this recounting helpful. At this point, thankfully, the driver’s wife decided to intervene. She put her hand in the line of sight between him and me, and said “Honey, just drive.” Without abandoning his Alpha-male demeanor, he shifted in to drive, and jerked away while shouting: “You’re lucky you didn’t end up in the hospital.”

Thankfully, this all happened fast enough that I did not have enough time to get very upset. I continued on into Walmart, bemused, trying to figure out what had just happened.


Since my youth, I have never been impressed with the theory of retributive punishment (and I have taken this as a positive point in my moral development). However, since I have become a father who snuggles with his daughters at night, the viability of the argument for retribution has weighed upon me more and more. Future “suitors” of my daughters should take notice, and act accordingly.


Tonight at the pivotal moment in the cartoon she was watching, Kathleen (my 5 year old daughter) jumped up and down in front of the couch with her arms shaking flagrantly at her sides. I could easily recognize this action from my own childhood. At times, I think my parents worried about whether this apparent lack of bodily control was a developmental problem. It wasn’t. What it was, was a kind of release of pure energy when the the story was about to come together, when the good guy was about to win, when, despite troubles, things were about to make sense in the world again (at least the world of whatever show I was watching). For just a moment tonight, seeing my daughter participate in that energy, I remembered what that felt like. I have, of course, overcome such exuberance in my adulthood. It is good occasionally to be reminded what I lost in the exchange.

Fresh Air

I do not understand my children’s enthusiasm for “outside.” It is as if they did not know that the invention of “inside” was the greatest human achievement since someone said “Hey, this air stuff, let’s try breathing it.”