Let me start by saying that I wanted to be doing this today:

FL Keys

But, the weather was bad and I wound up going to the bookstore then to the grocery. Why, oh why, did I even leave the house?

I’ve been reading about the 8 Taoist Immortals the last couple of days. They were definitely cool, and would even be cool if they were alive (in human form) today. Obviously, as immortals, they are alive in some form, somewhere. Each one had a particular talent, like imparting wisdom, bringing luck to marriages, and so on. They are recognizable by the unique items that they carry. One has a cane, another a fan, another a basket of flowers. One story has them all going to a magical island in a boat where they are today. You may have seen this depicted on a scroll, some pottery, or wood carvings. Well, I think that a ninth one, who is dumb as a rock, fell off of the boat and is hanging around at the bookstore in the Altamonte Mall.

I first noticed him coming out of the restroom, and thought how odd it was that he looked as if he’d just showered in the sink. I also felt a little sorry for him because he was ancient and unwell. He stopped in the middle of the aisle for no apparent reason and I was forced to wait for him to move, or go around. I stood a few seconds and then backed up and went around the bookcases to continue on my way. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was still standing there, owning the busy aisle, oblivious to at least 6 other people now in line at the “T” intersection he was stopped in, headed in or out of the the restroom or the aisle with books on Sports.

My name for people who do this in public places is “camper”. They “camp” in a busy place and dare anyone to be forward enough to ask them to move. Before I became enlightened, I was known to bump campers with shopping carts, shopping bags, or even the odd shoulder to move them from the spot that they had glued themselves to. I carried a disdainful look, that was unmistakeable, just for them, as well.

After merrily shopping and presenting myself to the check-out line, I noticed that there was no one at the register and went directly to it instead of walking further and snaking through the line. The nice cashier told me that she was still checking out the person in front of me and asked me to make the walk of shame to the stand-and-wait area. Which I did. As I glided to a very self-conscious stop and turned around to face the cashier, there was nobody in front of her still, but she gave me the “don’t even try it” look and I froze.

After a couple of minutes, Dumbass, the 9th Immortal (hereinafter referred to a D9) shuffled into view and placed something on the counter which was rung up and the lady announced, “That’ll be $33.87”. I’m looking outside and thinking, this is progress but I’d better pay quickly because it’s dark and fixin’ to rain like you-know-what on a flat rock. But what followed was a thorough and absolute inventory of pants and shirt pockets by D9. Then, he walked several feet away to a table where his Penney’s bag was staged, for a complete and thorough inventory of the contents of it as well. He retrieved a credit card, and shuffled back to the counter. Just about the time the rain started, he handed the card to the nice lady.

After a while it became obvious that his card had been declined. At this point, I thought about paying for his stuff, but he walked back to the Penney’s bag and withdrew some cash. It’s now raining harder, but not too bad. During his 3rd trip to the Penney’s bag, evidently for more cash, the bottom fell out and the rain started falling in sheets like a big bucket in the sky was being poured out. My heart sank, but I took a deep breath and resolved to be patient for a bit longer. It was at this point that I noticed several people in line behind me, and D9 asking for an extra bag to keep his books dry.

The teenager behind me was bumping me with her purse every time she turned around to talk to the Mediterannean lady behind her. This may be retribution for me bumping campers before I became enlightened. About the 3rd time this happened, I took a giant step forward, thinking that if the cashier said anything about me being in no man’s land, I’d blame the girl wearing Daisy Duke shorts. The teenager moved with me and continued doing the bump. The cashier, by this time, was apologizing with her glances and actually said at one point, “Thanks for being patient”. I was not being patient, but was glad that I looked like I was.

I almost had a heart attack when D9 turned 360 degrees and asked the cashier some questions. By this time, she was trying to move him along, and not be rude. He was still and completely unaware of anyone’s existence except his own. She told him, twice that I could hear, that she was only the cashier that he’d need to go to the information desk to get the answers to his questions. When he took a couple of steps away, she motioned for me to advance. By the time I got to the register, D9 was back asking her another question that she could not answer. She blew him off again, nicely, but he had the audacity to make eye contact with me.

By this time, I could not see the first row of cars in the parking lot because it was still raining cats and dogs. Meanwhile, I’d put my book on the counter, swiped my card, signed my name and was waiting on the machine to finish printing the receipt. The cashier apologized to me, again and I said to her, “he must just need someone to talk to because there is no way in the world that he could have taken longer to check out.” She agreed. We both laughed. I walked directly out into the downpour and got soaked.

D9 was last seen headed toward the coffee counter where, I’m sure that he pissed off a half-dozen or more people.

The moral of today’s story? Well there are two.
1. Patience is a virtue.
2. If, before you were enlightened, you made a habit of bumping campers-you may expect some instant karma in the form of a teenager bumping you.