Yesterday afternoon, I buzzed my local car wash before hopping on the freeway and heading to a gathering of Michigan State alumni down in Corona del Mar.
When I got to the wash, they weren’t busy at all, so I was in and out in record time — but not before I was able to squeeze in a girly round of nail-painting while I waited.
There was no traffic on the 91/55/405, so I also reached my exit in record time. I decided I was hungry and needed to get a quick snack, so I swung into a Starbucks for an iced coffee.
The day was really quite swell up until that point. Empty car wash, empty freeways, beautiful weather with evening fog rolling in off the coast, parking spot right in front of Starbucks for my newly washed car and, even though I’d been rushing around most of the day, my hair hadn’t fallen.
It was a good afternoon, indeed.
As I exited my car and headed for the front door of Starbucks, there was a family of five leaving. I walked in as they walked out, and as I turned to admire my clean, shiny car, I noticed that the dad — engrossed in a loud conversation on his cell — stopped by my car.
He paused, looking a little confused and trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his coffee cup that he was holding in his right hand. In his left, he held his cell phone that he was speaking into in a very animated fashion.
And then he decided that my car would be a great place for his coffee cup.
I stared in disbelief, wondering if I was really seeing him get cozy with The Lex. I can’t remember the last time I sauntered over to a car that wasn’t mine and acted like it was.
Oh, right — I can’t remember because I’ve never done that.
As I watched the guy, I saw him check his appearance by looking at his reflection on my window. He put a few rogue hairs back in place and seemed satisfied that he a) looked better and b) had found a place to rest his coffee cup.
Then he decided to get a little too friendly. He leaned up against my car, all but sprawling out across the top. Clearly he wanted to make himself at home; that conversation he was having sure seemed to be taking up a lot of his energy. As he pseudo-lounged, I’m pretty sure his right armpit was trying to make a move on my B-pillar.
Just as the barista asked me, “Hi, what can I get started for you today?” I swiftly replied, “Nothing yet. Hold on a second for me.”
I walked outside and approached the guy leaning against The Lex.
Since he was still yacking away, I loudly announced my presence with a polite (in choice of words only) but firm, “Excuse me, sir.”
He looked at me and gave me a look that reeked of, “Yeah? What do you want?”
So I gave him the hands. The hands that are a calm combination of “what gives?” followed by, “and whose car do you think this is?”
I honestly don’t know if he thought it was his, or what his deal was. But he snickered, grabbed his coffee and walked off.
I went back inside, still a bit stunned. The barista was waiting for me, and I told him what happened. He shook his head and said, “You know, I’ve worked here for a few years, and I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of people watching. The art of getting food cleanly into your mouth? Gone.”
He motioned with his head toward the window, and I looked at the table next to it to see a pile of discarded food with crumbs all around that would’ve fed a flock of birds for days.
No, wait — pterodactyls.
He continued, “The art of being courteous? Cleaning up after yourself? Gone, and gone.”
In the wake of experiencing this incredibly bizarre situation, I’m thankful for two things: one, that there seems to be at least a few other people like me in the world who are constantly stunned at the cojones that people have — people who seem to think they created the planet and everything on it. But more importantly (and in all seriousness) I’m thankful that we live in a country where people can, for the most part, freely do whatever they want.
Am I glad that the guy was putting some moves on The Silver Bullet? No. But am I grateful that we live in a country where we’re not constantly on alert and wondering who’s watching our every move, and where we’re able to roam without fear of being kidnapped, decapitated and every other horrendous thing that’s going on not too far from California’s borders — as well as other countries around the world?
Ours is a country that allows people to be complete tools at times. But I’ll take that over the alternative any day.