The Churl in the Parking Lot
It’s December 1, 2018, shortly before 11, and I’m driving through a light rain on my way to my Sisters in Crime meeting. I’m very excited about it, too, because our speaker today is Julie Mulhern, author of the Country Club Murders and Poppy Fields series, both of which I adore.
I pull into the lower parking lot outside the library. Seeing no places in the closest rank, I drive on past the filled places,, turn right at the end of the row, turn right again and right once more into a narrow slot between a black sedan and another vehicle. I turn off the windshield wipers and then the car, get out, and lock the door.
It’s then I first hear the voice. I look around. There’s nobody in sight in the rainy parking lot. I hear the voice again. I look around again and still don’t see anyone. I hear the voice a third time and this time I make out what the voice is saying and it’s very close. “Ma’am, you hit my car,” a man says.
I stoop down and see a shadowy figure behind the wheel of the black sedan. He’s holding a cell phone to his ear. “Ma’am, you hit my car,” he says again.
I straighten up and look down at the door of the sedan. I see a white blip, but it rubs off. I rub off another white blip before I lean down and look into the car. “I don’t see any damage.” About then I realize that if this guy really gave a crap, he would have gotten out of the car and looked.
“Ma’am, you hit my car,” he growls once more, sitting tight while this old lady still stands out in the rain. Maybe that’s the purpose of the exercise or just to jack me around or to show what a hard a$$ he is to whoever he’s talking to on the phone.
Regardless, I say, “I’ll be more careful next time,” and hustle down the hill and into the library.
The first person I see when I enter the meeting room is Julie. I hold out my hand and then realize it’s wet. I try to dry it off on my raincoat, also wet. “I’m sorry,” I say. “My hand is wet.”
“That’s all right,” Julie says. So we shake hands and then we hug. And soon our meeting begins.
Julie has packed her presentation on marketing books with a ton of information and–the churl in the parking lot temporarily forgotten–I take a ton of notes.
Oh, now as I near the end of this blog, the writing professor who still lives in my head after many years of retirement says, “So what’s the point of this? You’ve got to have a point when you’re writing expository nonfiction prose.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, let’s see. Why are you taking your time to write about that guy anyway?
A few answers . . .
1) It was fun for me to find the humor in the encounter with the churl in the parking lot. It’s a lemonade-from-lemons sort of situation.
2) And I firmly believe in the healing powers of laughter.
3) In life we meet lots of different kinds of people. Some of them are jerks who take every opportunity they get to make other people feel uncomfortable.
4) But we also meet charmers like Julie Mulhern. Her generosity in sharing her time and expertise with us balanced that negative experience out.
P. S. Check out Julie Mulhern’s mysteries. You’ll be glad you did.