It was lunchtime and the fridge and cupboards in my kitchen contained food that I would only consider eating if given good odds by a Vegas bookie, so I headed off to the grocery store to fill my cart and (eventually my belly) with food on a pleasant fall afternoon. I arrived at the the store and started making my way toward the entrance when I noticed an elderly woman struggling to lift her bags into the back of her car. Being the chivalrous fellow I am, I offered her assistance. “May I help you with that?” I asked politely. She turned toward me and mustered all the strength she had left to give me...”The Finger”. Yes, you read that right. There was no warning, no red flag. She went from zero to sixty on the speedometer of refusal. I was speechless and backed away slowly since her middle digit was still fully loaded and aimed directly at me. Then, she turned back toward her car and continued loading her groceries, huffing and puffing away as if nothing had happened.
Once I got over the initial shock, I went over the incident in my head. I kept wondering if I had inadvertently offended her. I don’t think I was patronizing. I didn’t call her ‘Ma’am’, I didn’t reach out for her groceries before I offered her my help, and I don’t feel like I am an imposing presence to anyone. Perhaps I offended her by even offering, which may have made her feel embarrassed. I have been on her side of that situation before, but don’t ever recall reacting in such a rude manor. What the hell was wrong with her?! I was only trying to help. Still frustrated, I grumpily continued my shopping.
Later on during that same trip to the store, a different elderly woman passed by me in the baking aisle and smiled politely. I was a little hesitant to smile back until I noticed she still had her mittens on. I figured I was safe from any more obscene gestures or elderly wrath, so I sheepishly grinned back at her. Moments later, as I reached up to grab an item on the top shelf, I felt a sharp and firm pinch on my butt cheek and nearly toppled over from the surprise. I quickly recovered and looked around for the perpetrator. No one was behind me, but as I looked down the aisle, the woman who had just smiled at me was scurrying away as fast as she could. Her left hand was mitten-less and she took a moment to turn around a giggle at me before disappearing around the corner. Did she really just pinch my butt? A bewildered grin came across my face as I let out a slow, deep sigh. Did I have a sign on my back that said “Make me feel uncomfortable today?” At least this lady thought I was cute enough to pinch me, which was flattering in a very weird way.
Don’t get misunderstand me, I’m not judging either of these women based on this one encounter. Chances are that the “evil” woman in the parking lot may be the kindest and sweetest person walking the face of the earth. I just happened across her at the most inopportune moment and BAM!! “The bird” flies right in my face. The “good” woman on the other hand, could be pure evil through and through, devouring small children like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. At that time, they represented the epitome of good and evil and I was the midpoint between them. It's an odd and entertaining encounter that took me a while to get over before I felt comfortable smiling at anyone who could be on the senior tour.