Peace, Love and Mall Traffic

Writers tend to make use of all our life experiences, especially the bad ones, to make our stories and our characters more authentic, more believable. That being the case, I should be able to write about terror quite effectively after yesterday.

I took my mom Christmas shopping.

Inside the stores wasn’t too bad. I was surprised. But then again, we chose the prime time of the week to go shopping in our area…during the Steelers game. (We won even without me jumping up and down and screaming at the television.)

No, the terror was not in the stores. I found it in the parking lots.

People lose their minds this time of year. I’ve always found this to be true. A few years back, a little old lady ran a red light outside the mall and smashed into my husband’s pick up truck as he came home from his annual hunting trip. The lady never saw the light. She was in a post-shopping coma.

I’ve seen this over and over. I recently watched a girl run a stop sign (left-hand turn in front of an oncoming vehicle) and then drive at no less than 50 MPH through the parking lot to screech to a stop in front of a store. What on earth could she be in that much of a hurry to buy?

I mean, really, folks. You drive like a crazy person through the parking lots to get inside and do what? Wait. The lines are long. The sales people are exhausted. You are not going to get in and out of the store quickly. Not gonna happen. So slow down!

What makes it worse this year, though, is the almighty cell phone. Not only are people driving in a daze or speeding to go wait in long lines, but they’re doing it with one hand on the wheel and their phone stuck to their ear. It’s hard enough to back out of a parking space safely when other drivers are moving at reasonable speed with their full attention on what they’re doing. Yesterday, I felt like I was risking my life. Or at least my fenders.

There’s also the little matter of walking from the parking lot into the store. Hey, folks, you know those yellow lines painted on the road in front of the stores’ doors? And those octagonal red signs with the white letters S-T-O-P written across them? They mean “Do NOT run over my elderly mother (with two artificial hips) hobbling with her shopping cart into and out of Wal-Mart. I run interference for her, stepping into the path of oncoming, cell-phone-using drivers of large SUVs, daring them to run us over. No, I’m not a fool. I don’t step in front of anyone who obviously is not going to stop. But I exchange some very dirty looks with drivers who seem to feel those pedestrian crossings and stop signs do not apply to them.

In all the Christmas carols playing on the radio, I hear of peace, love and joy. I hear of silent nights and holy nights and silver bells. I have never, ever heard a holiday song telling of murderous parking lots and pedestrians risking life and limb to purchase Aunt Sue that sweater she wants.

Well, there is that one song about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer…

Come on, everyone. Let’s slow down and enjoy the true spirit of the season.


Joyce said…
We had a similar experience out at Pittsburgh Mills on Saturday night. One driver honked his horn at someone making a legal left turn because he had to slow down to avoid ramming the back of their car. Then he burned rubber after swerving around the car and sped off.

I have visions of side-kicking a door on one of those enormous gas hogs. Not nice, but it would be fun!

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