Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Old Man and the Pharmacy

Wednesday afternoon at the pharmacy, I found myself in line behind a very old man. He stood stooped over his walker, giving the appearance that he was weighed down by his enormous 60's-style glasses, their lenses as thick as coasters. I thought he must be exceptionally plucky to be making the trip to the pharmacy alone. He was also, as it turned out, exceptionally grumpy.

As one of the pharmacists called out "Next!" the old man shifted his walker forward in preparation for what must surely have been a challenging journey to the counter. Just at that moment, a small plastic ball rolled out in front of him. It proved to belong to a three-year-old girl who had been entertaining herself with it at the counter while her mother was picking up a prescription. The little girl darted out after her ball, and I guess this must have alarmed the old man. "Do you want to do something about your child?" he bellowed at the girl's mother. The mother turned around to apologize, but her daughter was already back at her side, bouncing her ball. "There's a child there!" the old man protested to the pharmacy at large. He made his way to the free pharmacist, continuing to protest, "There's a child there!" in the tone which another customer might have employed to announce "There's a flamingo there!" Finally the little girl seemed to take it personally.

"Mom." she said,
"What is it, honey?"
"I'm not a child, Mom. I'm a kid."

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