Being the better human

I try not to be an inconvenience in other people’s lives.

For example:

  • When I am walking across a street, I actually get on across and, to the best of my knowledge, have never once stopped to respond to a text message in the middle of the road.
  • When my kids were little, if they turned into tiny balls of rage and fury while in public, I would take them out of that situation and thereby away from people who don’t want to have their dinner music accompaniment be screams.
  • I know that the only proper way to put toilet paper on a roll is the over method, and anyone who thinks it’s under should be viewed through suspicious eyes from that point forward.
  • Grocery carts. Duh.

So imagine my dismay when I was called out for inconveniencing another person. My first reaction — what have I done? Me? Am I monster? That lasted about 1/10 of a second, at which point my reaction turned to, “Are you kidding me, pal?”

It happened at the grocery store the other day. I had gotten the groceries and was wheeling my cart out to my car. Because I plan ahead, I had parked right next to a cart corral. Maximum efficiency, maximum awesomeness.

I put the groceries in my car and sent the cart to its proper destination.

I hopped in the driver’s seat and went to put on my seat belt. At that point, the sound came.


I looked over my right shoulder, expecting to see a collision near-miss between other cars. Nope. It was clearly directed at me. The horn continued, and a hand extended out of the window, giving off a great-big “What is wrong with you!?!?!” vibe. Which is why I had my initial reaction. And then it occurred to me that I had been in my car for about three seconds.

I wasn’t hanging out placing a call or adjusting the radio or anything non-mission critical.

Sit. Insert key. Buckle seat belt. Reverse. I know this drill.

Clearly, this guy wanted my parking space, and he wanted it right then. And I was not moving fast enough for him. Well, good sir, guess who just got waaaaaay slower than he normally is?

I also noticed there were plenty of other open spaces in the lot. He was going to honk at me to hurry rather than walk an additional 10 feet?

Again, he was having the opposite effect of speeding me up.

I considering just getting out of my car, locking it up and heading back into the store.

Then the part of my brain that is slightly more evolved made the point that this guy who was honking at me was probably not going to see me go inside and say, “Well, he showed me. I should probably be nicer to people from this point forward in life.”

Some people just aren’t nice people. Some people are just rude. And it’s not worth my energy to be an active part of their world or attempt to help them evolve as civilized humans. Some you come in contact with are as far along as they’re going to get.

So I backed out and headed on my way, not even looking back at Beepy. As I pulled toward the exit, I approached a crosswalk. A shopper was exiting the store with a cart. I stopped, and waved her across. She smiled and waved back as she scooted across the lot to her car. A little mutual civility back and forth. That’s where I’d prefer to spend my energy. That and making sure toilet paper is placed over.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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