Copyright 1997, 2015 by Jim Hull

(Please cite the author if you quote from this work)


I got home to find a phone message from my mother. "I'm stuck at the grocery-store parking lot. My car won't start. I've called Triple-A. If you get home before six, please come down." I put my shoes back on and headed for my car. Now and then a guy should rescue his mom.

At the parking lot I scanned the aisles quickly but didn't see her Buick. I began a search, driving up one lane and down the next, and still couldn't find her. During my second sweep I turned a corner, window down, craning, and heard a woman - child in tow - say loudly, "That idiot doesn't know what he's doing."

I kept driving. Then it hit me: she was talking about me!

Now, hold on a minute, lady! How do you know what I'm doing? For your information, I happen to be searching for my mother's broken car, with her in it, and I'll be danged if I'm gonna stop just because you think I look idiotic. In fact, I'll probably do it three times before I'm satisfied, so get used to it.

And another thing. I don't mind being insulted half as much as I mind you dissing an oddball stranger in front of a child! What lesson are you teaching? That it's okay to have contempt for people you don't understand? What good will that do when some quirky person turns out to be dangerous? The kid'll be caught looking. Or what if the weird behavior is beneficial, and the kid lampoons it till it stops?

If you're gonna make a bad example, lady, at least keep it zipped when the kid's around.

I thought about backing up and saying just those things to her, then realized I'd get as far as, "Hold on a minute, lady--" and she'd scream, "Help! Security!"

So I got to be a misunderstood idiot instead.

Turns out my mother got home all right. The next day I had the battery replaced. On the way home someone in a hurry cut me off in traffic, and I yelled, "What an idiot!"



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