blog,  personal development,  short story,  trauma

For the Love of God, Look Out for Parking Signs

This morning, my son thought he’d get away with brushing his teeth without toothpaste, but his sister told on him right before we walked out the door.

So I pull him back into the bathroom and make him brush the full 3-minutes in front of me before ushering him to the car.

People in the drop-off line act like they have no sense. “Come on people, throw your kids out of the car and let’s go!”

I return home and pick up my phone. There’s a PayPal notification that blinks at me, letting me know I was charged $33 for a free trial product I forgot to cancel.

I call to be refunded and speak to a woman with a bored voice who informs me:

“Under Terms & Services we are not legally obligated to refund you, but you will be refunded as a one time courtesy in 5 business days.”

*Click*

My phone rings. A nice lady on the phone lets me know that my health insurance doesn’t want to pay in full for services even though the deductible has been met. She’s filing for an appeal and will keep me updated.

A morning. That’s what it was. A morning, after a week, after a year of when things just aren’t wanting to cooperate.

I take a breath, a deep one. I let it fill my lungs until it almost hurts before letting it out slowly.

Reset. Shower. Coffee. Come on Sandi.

I take my time. It’s raining today, so I don’t blow dry my hair. I pull on my comfy grey leggings, my favorite oversized t-shirt that says “I get by with a little help from my friends,” my best Floridian pair of throw away flip-flops, and black zip up hoodie from my punk days.

Everything about the look screams: DO NOT. EFF. WITH ME. TODAY.

But I exit the house, knowing I need to get my act together, knowing coffee from my favorite spot will help.

It’s pouring, so I find the closest spot I can and park before running inside. I have my usual pleasant interaction with the barista and start smiling.

There’s a girl. Come on. No bad day today.

I leave feeling much better, coffee and avocado toast in hand, and make it five paces away from my car before I hear the door of the shop next-door swing open.

“Hey ma’am!”

I turn around, a bland smile plastered on my face.

He’s a small man, portly with greying hair beneath his baseball cap. I would have described his demeanor as good natured, if I didn’t hear what came out of his mouth next.

He pointed and looked at me with that look of someone educating the ignorant. “Do you not see what that sign says RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR CAR?”

I turn to look and there it is. Right there. “BUSINESS NAME: CUSTOMER PARKING ONLY”

And regular Sandi would have turned around and politely said, “I’m sorry” and moved on with her day.

But regular Sandi was in the middle of a morning, trying to keep it together.

So punk rock, bred in the south Sandi is the one who swiveled to face that portly man, her black hoodie covering the top of her head, her right foot rocked back in a fighting stance, her eyebrows set in, “Please try me” mode.

“I’m SorRYYYYYYY.”

Except it didn’t sound like an apology.

What it sounded like was, “PLEASE GIVE ME A REASON.”

Or.

“I’M SORRY I SEE NO PROBLEM HERE. DO YOU SEE A PROBLEM? I SEE NO PROBLEM.”

Or.

“WHY DON’T YOU COME OVER HERE AND SAY IT WITH THAT TONE AGAIN.”

Portly man quickly opens the door behind him and makes his swift exit.

I stand there in the rain, staring at the closed door. My breathing rapid, my nostrils flaring, my eyes seeing fire.

I consider walking into that fine establishment and continuing the conversation. Please, sir, tell me all about the sign in front of my car. Please inform me again. I want to be sure I heard you correctly.  Want to check your tone or do you need me to check it for you?

Then after a long 30 second pause, after allowing my rage to fume and boil, regular Sandi puts her cool hand on the heat of my anger.

I yell into the mist, “NOT TODAY, SIR. NOT TODAY.”

I rip open my car door and slowly exit the parking lot. Paying attention to be extra careful, no silly angry-driving.

But I can’t keep going after two blocks. I turn left and follow the street back to the business entrance and stare at it.

“I should go in there and inform him of the week I’ve had. I should go in there and make him feel small, like he made me feel small.”

I stare and stare, my stink eye getting stinkier by the second. I put my car in park five different times.

But eventually, I set the gear in drive and slowly leave the vicinity.

It’s always when people take you by surprise, isn’t it? And it’s always when you’re in pain.

When we’re in pain, we’re more likely to cause pain.

It’s like a game of Hot Potato. Keep passing the pain around and around, who will get left with it?

My soul, heavy with the emotion, heavy with the pain, looks for the nearest, most deserving outlet to dispose of it.

“Here! You take it! I can’t handle it! It’s YOUR turn to carry it!”

But no.

No.

Not today, sir.

Not today.

I know you were just being petty. Maybe you had a morning, a week, a year yourself.

Who knows? Maybe you were trying to be an active citizen. Maybe you were attempting to be a good guy, confronting a lazy driver who can’t read parking signs.

After all, it’s not that big of a deal. I should have taken the comment and moved on.

But in my pain, this morning, it felt like the biggest deal in the world. It felt like a cruel taunt echoing through the universe.

“Let’s see what it takes to make Sandi snap.”

But not today, sir.

Not today.

So, my friends, be gentle. Be gentle with one another today.

Go easy.

And take it from me.

For the love of God.

Look out for parking signs.

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