Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Invisible Boundary

The Whole Foods parking lot in Woodland Hills has very small spaces so, when it’s busy, as it is today, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, people drive around for a long time looking for a space their car will fit in.

I rarely shop there, and it turns out the store also has shopping carts which, when you try to put them away after your shopping trip, if you happen to accidentally pass the narrow, unseen, boundary of the parking lot territory, have wheels that lock up.

So you drag, shove, flail a little, and try to pop wheelies to do whatever you can think of to get the wheels moving on the defiantly braking cart. How can it be so bound up when you clearly see similar carts outside the invisible boundary and you so want yours to join them? You take a periscope view of the parking lot to see that there don’t seem to be any places to return carts, so how do they expect the parking lot traffic to flow freely?

You have loaded the groceries into the car trunk, caught the receipt that the wind snatched up, and now you wrestle the cart, all before the audience of one smiling, patient, probably somewhat amused driver of the car that is waiting for your space. Hefting your weight to the basket handle but getting no momentum, you consider kicking it down onto its side so you can slide it out of the way, but that might fail worse, and somebody might get hurt— you, for example.

Now you spot a warning notice on the cart telling you its wheels will lock if you try to escape the premises with it. But it’s just an antagonist because the boundaries aren’t defined!

If you’re lucky, the waiting driver finds another space then comes to you and takes the stubborn cart off your hands. He makes some of the same moves you did, but he’s committed.  He remarks as he muscles it along that “Wow these wheels really are locked up,” but he’s cool about it and makes the cart go away as you thank him several times, knowing better than to watch. 

2022 and chivalry is not dead. A kindness. That is what happened to me today.

The end.

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