No, this is not a feel-good piece designed to brighten your mood; it’s just another one of my famous grumps. I started commenting on it to my wife well before Thanksgiving, and she to me. More people were on the streets and in the stores. They were acting more harried and hurried and seemed more distracted than normal. It was obvious that the shopping season shad started early this year.
Sometimes, I wish I could just stay home through November and December. Now, though, I have a job where I’m out in the traffic anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day. I thought people were crazy before I started driving truck again; now I KNOW they are. Besides all the changes in attitudes, morals and priorities over the years, the holiday season has compounded the effect the last month or more.
For one thing, you have more drivers out that rarely drive and are out of practice. They are often retired folks who stay home a lot, but venture out more during the Christmas season to shop for the grandkids and such. They aren’t used to the changed traffic patterns and drive carefully, so as to make allowances for it. They drive slow, but still unpredictably (as opposed to kids, who drive FAST and unpredictably). Then you have the folks from the back counties who come here for more selection in places to shop, but aren’t used to the volume of traffic on our city streets. They sometimes have a deer-in-the-headlights look on their face. All tend to hamper traffic flow as they sort things out in their heads as to where they’re going and how to get there.
The “average” driver is more predictable, but develops a decidedly mean edge this time of year. It was just the opposite of when I was a kid. Back then, people seemed a little nicer between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Today, with at least two generations trained to think only of themselves, the pressure and desire to get what they want, or to get it for others, seems to turn them into monsters. They’ll risk both your life and their own in traffic to get one car-length ahead in the lanes. They’ll cut you off, drive WAY over the speed limit, give you the horn (and the bird) for daring to turn across their lane to enter a parking lot, and wander into your lane as they text for the third time in four minutes.
In the stores, they’ll turn directly in front of you and stop, walk side-by-side with their friends and their shopping carts, let their kids run wild, and knock old people over (literally) in their rush to get down the aisles. They’ll also get nearly (and sometimes actually) physical in contesting the right to the last remaining package of something. A couple days ago, a woman old enough to know better literally tried to wrest the last coat of a certain size and style from my wife’s grip. My wife had been holding it under her arm before the woman ever came on the scene! Even the husband gave my wife a dirty look for not surrendering it. My wife hadn’t had a new winter coat for years and her current one was starting to dry-rot, so it’s not like she didn’t need it.
Today, though, something happened that absolutely flabbergasted me. My wife looked stressed as she walked to the truck, after looking in a discount store for a small toy for a little boy we met recently. His mother doesn’t have much to spare for Christmas this year, so we thought we’d get one gift apiece for her baby, her little boy and her.
Unseen by me, my wife had taken a hard fall when she stepped off the curb outside the store. Lying in the traffic lane of the parking lot, she was in shock for a few seconds and then couldn’t seem to move when she tried. Shoppers were rushing by as she lay there and mumbled “Help me!” But not a soul helped her. In her confusion, she never thought of calling me on her cell phone. Finally, she managed to get up and walk to the truck. I couldn’t believe people would be so uncaring in what could be considered small town West Virginia. I’m SO disappointed in my fellow citizens; I thought better of them than that.
For those who will ask (and bless you for that), my wife seems to be fine, though I think she’ll be really sore tomorrow. © 2014