The trolley decided to take off on its own across the car park. It did so at an increasingly faster rate with its owner completely unaware of what was happening Photo / Getty Images
So, there I was sitting in my car the other day when life took an interesting turn directly in front of me.
Now I don’t know about you, but I reckon the driver’s seat
of your chosen vehicle is just about the best place to observe the good, the bad and the ugly within our society.
Take for instance your average road rage episode. Who among us has not seen something like that occur as we go about our daily business?
Then there’s the unusual or offbeat characters that meander through your field of vision as you negotiate the potholes of Such and Such Road or sit waiting for the lights to change.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but I reckon the best ones I’ve seen from my car were a bloke resplendent in full Native American headdress and attire astride a horse ambling peacefully along – presumably on his way to the dairy to fetch a bottle of milk – and a very tall graceful lady balancing a large bowl of something or other on her head as she strolled along, head up, noble posture.
But I digress. Back to what occurred last week.
I’m in my car at the supermarket. Mrs P has gone inside with an eftpos card which was screaming for mercy as she disappeared through the doors and I’m in a bit of a daze if the truth be known. That’s because Mrs P has just gone and bought a pair of what are known as “walking shoes”.
For the uninitiated among you, walking shoes are those designed specifically for walking and feature a bit of extra padding in specific places as compared to ordinary shoes which, if you follow the logic, are apparently not for walking. Wonder why they don’t call them “standing” shoes then?
Maybe you have to wear your walking shoes up to where you are going to stand and then change into the standing shoes?
Anyway, I digress. Again.
So, I’m in the car, supermarket carpark, in a daze because Mrs P now has five pairs of these shoes and I’m trying to work out which one of my internal organs I’m going to have to auction off to pay for them.
As I’m sitting there doing the mental arithmetic, an old fella pushes his heavily laden trolley up to the rear door of his little red car. He opens it and bends inside, presumably to make room for the groceries on the back seat. And that’s when the fun started.
As he is head down, bum up arranging space, the trolley decides to take off on its own across the carpark. It does so at an increasingly faster rate with its owner completely unaware his cornflakes and baked beans are making a break for it.
I’m about to leap from the confines of my vehicle to grab the runaway trolley – which by this stage has probably gone 10 yards miraculously not hitting any other vehicles – when a young bloke appears from behind another parked car and stops it.
Just as he lays his hands on the trolley, the old fella re-emerges from the car and looks up. This is where the fun started. It was like one of those scenes from a US cop show on telly. The hero finds a knife next to a dead body. He picks it up and is staring at it in his hand as the cop shows up and fixes his searchlight on him. Caught, as they say, red-handed.
Now back at the supermarket carpark, all the older man can see is a young bloke standing 10 yards away with a trolley which has the exact items he paid most of his pension for a short while ago. From my vantage point I can see a confused look spreading across his face.
Very quickly he puts two and two together … and comes up with 5.
“Hey,” he yells angrily at the younger chap. “That’s mine.”
By now the smiling younger fellow is helpfully pushing the trolley back to the older man but what he doesn’t realise is he’s about to get a good old-fashioned bollocking.
I watch as the younger guy’s smile fades to a look of worry and then downright panic as the older bloke lets rip.
The exact words are lost in the flood of adrenaline which accompanies such occasions but essentially what was happening was the older bloke had completely gotten the wrong end of the stick and was accusing the younger man of stealing his groceries while his attention had been diverted elsewhere.
It got worse as he angrily grabbed the handle of the trolley, completely ignoring the younger man’s attempted explanation. The words “scumbag” and “police” wafted across to me as the older man’s anger showed no sign of abating.
At this stage I felt I should wander over and see if I could help by explaining what I’d seen. So I did.
Unfortunately, as he angrily loaded the groceries into his back seat the older guy was having none of it. He had obviously forgotten to take his reasonable pill that morning.
As far as he was concerned it was nothing to do with me, how was he to know I wasn’t in on “it” (the grocery theft) and my suggestion that he’d misunderstood what had occurred was condescending and all to do with the fact he was elderly.
If I’m honest I was pretty peeved with his accusations. I wanted to argue the point and make sure he knew he was being unreasonable and unfair to me, and most certainly to the younger guy who was merely trying to do a good deed.
The absolutely defeated look on the face of the younger man convinced me you will never win with some people. It was time to back off and leave the old bloke to his beliefs. And so we did.
As he drove off at a speed befitting an angry person, he gave me the fingers which irritated me no end and merely served to enforce the fact he believed I was an arsehole.
A short while later Mrs P returned with a sobbing eftpos card and as we drove out of the carpark I began to explain what had occurred.
We hadn’t gone 300 yards up the road when we spotted the flashing lights of a police car parked in behind a little red car it had just pulled over.
“Oh, it’s a little old man,” said Mrs P sympathetically as we rubbernecked on the way past. “What a shame,” she said.
“Exactly what I was thinking,” I replied with a wry smile.