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April 10, 2009
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(from my blog at whatgives.gainesville.com)

You walk out of the grocery store - your wallet considerably lighter - pushing a rattling shopping cart against its will toward your car.

A driver nearly runs you over in his zest to get a space two feet closer to the store. You fight the urge to make an obscene gesture because that's not right and, plus, you can't spare the free hand what with this rogue cart and all.

At first, you're walking at a good pace, with confidence, but then you slow. Each step grows heavier and more deliberate.

Then you mutter those five little words: Now where did I park?

You’re not particularly worried, yet, just interested. You're more philosophical at this point. “I park therefore I am.”

You head in the general direction of where you believe you left your automobile. (That word sometimes makes me think of “Sixteen Candles”: “Dong! Where is my automobile?”)

“I was somewhere on the first lane,” you think as you scour the area. “I was beside a big honkin' white truck.”

No sign of your car, or the honkin' truck.

“The nerve of them to leave,” you think. “Don't they know they were my frame of reference? You can't drive a landmark like that sucker and not accept some responsibility.”

The nerves have set in now.

Rattle, rattle, rattle.

It's like the cart is mocking you.

“Lost you are, lost you are.”

Do you have a Yoda cart? Certainly old enough.

“My wheels are going to lock up in exactly 15 minutes and then I go no further,” it seems to warn with each lurch.

You’re self-conscious now. It feels as if everyone is witnessing your painstaking trek around the parking lot.

“Is she taking a tour?” you imagine them wondering. “And to the left, we have more spaces.”

You shake your head in disgust. “Why couldn't I get a more distinctive car? Something ... painted like a leopard. No way would I have trouble finding that car. I could just follow the sound of laughter if all else failed.”

Panic is creeping in now.

“No one would take my car,” you try to convince yourself. “It’s not new. It's kinda beat up. Don’t crooks have standards?”

You find yourself back at the first lane, where you started. And there it is, sticking out like a sore thumb, near the front.

“No wonder I missed it,” you say. “I never get a good parking spot. The one time I get a decent space and it ends up biting me in the butt.”

The cart makes a banshee-like, metallic screech.

“Oh shut up,” you say. “Or I'll park you in the street.”
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