I arrived at the grocery store today and was so excited to see a single vacant “Customer with child” parking space. As I was pulling towards it, a woman with Gilda Radner hair and rabid eyes cut me off with her minivan and careened into the space. I murmured a few expletives that my daughter later repeated, to my dismay. The woman flung herself out of the van and began jogging to the grocery store. I thought that she must be in such a hurry because she was leaving her kids in the car, or maybe she had forgotten them altogether.
Watching the wild woman was a little like looking in a mirror, so I figured I would cut her some slack. I sighed and resigned myself to another open spot, which was a few miles away. I removed the kids from the car and began hiking across the wide expanse of asphalt, carrying Abby while she kicked and screamed and holding Audrey’s hand like a vise grip while she tried to run into traffic.
As we walked past the minivan in question, I peered nonchalantly into the windows. The car seats in the back were EMPTY! I resisted the urge to rip the heads off of her little stick figure family decal, which wasn’t that difficult because I was totally preoccupied with herding my kids into the store. Once we made it inside, things went from bad to worse. The meltdowns and chaos became too much to handle about halfway through my shopping list. I think it was halfway, but I’m not really sure since Abby ate the list.
I sprinted to checkout, stopping only to pick up items that my kids were tossing onto the floor as we went. Amazingly, I saw Gilda in line right in front of us, idly flipping through a magazine while she waited with her overflowing cart. I glowered at the back of her head as I ripped into a bag of lollipops with my teeth. The lollipops worked like sedatives on my children and we were all able to make it safely out of the store.
I walked right past the woman as she was loading her 57 bags into her minivan. I’m very non-confrontational, so I simply gave her the stink eye until she looked in my direction. She immediately looked ashamed and said “Sorry, I was in a big hurry. I left my kids up the road with a friend.” Apparently, she felt that this explanation was sufficient and that the trauma I endured during the shopping trip should be forgotten.
The injustice would have been easier to swallow if a dopey teenager had taken the spot, but it was taken by another mother who knew the difficulties of shopping with children (so much so that she simply left hers with friends). She may have completed the course in record time, but I am taking a mulligan. I would have left the store with a cart full of groceries if she had not stolen my handicap. Her follow-through leaves a lot to be desired.