This day did not start out as it should. At this moment I am supposed to be cozily ensconced at St. Louis Bread Company with my writer friends Bev and Michelle, writing a blog post. Okay, so I am writing a blog post, but mostly I am thinking about what happened before I started writing.
As usual, as it is on any given weekday morning, the St. Louis Bread Company is nuts. I skirted into the parking lot, avoiding people standing around chatting with coffee cups and bags in hand and dodging cars zipping around searching for a place to park. I wheeled around the outside row near the dumpster, thinking I would park on the side, away from the the main cluster of chaos. To my everlasting surprise, the end space before the turn to the side lot was empty. Not believing my good luck, I pulled in, hopped out and headed to my friend’s table to have a seat and begin this blog post. Soon after I got settled, Bev got up to stand in line for a bite to eat.
A man’s voice interrupted me. He said, “I want to thank you for taking my parking space. I had been waiting a long time for it.” I looked up in surprise. There stood a man in his late sixties to early seventies with his hands clasped behind his back. He spoke quietly but with irritation oozing through his words. I couldn’t think of anything to say except, “I didn’t know you had been waiting for it.”
I have been taught from an early age to always be courteous. So it is true that if I had known he was waiting for the space I would have continued onward. Was I preoccupied while looking for a space? Of course. Should I have done a better recon of the situation? Maybe. Yet after his rebuke, I got to thinking about his motivation. Did he, 1. Think I was purposely robbing him of his long awaited space? 2. Knew I didn’t realize and just needed to bring a blight to my day? 3. Was he too cowardly to approach me when I was in the company of my friend? 4. What did he expect me to say? 5. Did approaching me bring him some sort of vindication or satisfaction? I had not not a clue what any of the answers may be.
Do you remember “Fried Green Tomatoes”? The scene in the supermarket parking lot? Kathy Bates is slowly pulling into a long awaited space and a VW bug of hip teen girls zips around her and laughingly parks in front of her. Kathy Bates yells at them that she was waiting for that space. The girls reply “Yeah, but we are younger and faster.”
Kathy Bates’ response is to rev her boat-of-a car’s engine and ram the little VW bug, smashing it to smithereens while screaming “Yeah but I am older and better insured.”
Every situation is subject to a writer’s use. One little drama can be expanded and embellished to require fictional police and insurance adjuster to appear on scene. Each vignette can become a springboard for increased conflict or deeper character interaction.
Just think, if I had pulled the parking space and the man decided he wasn’t going to stand for his spot being “stolen” he could have rammed my vehicle. Hello police and insurance adjuster. Inside, after the incident, with his liver in a twist and righteous anger propelling him across the crowded coffee-house, the man could have punched me in the face while I sat staring at my computer screen. Hello police, a broken nose and a trip to the emergency room. Just think all the people I could have inadvertently ticked off in such a target-rich place.
Or maybe something the opposite of property damage and bloodletting would happen. The man, realizing the clueless woman didn’t take his space on purpose, approaches her and begins a friendly conversation. The woman responds favorably and during their initial discourse they discover mutual interests. He too is a writer. They collaborate on a book and make the New York Times Bestseller list for historical fiction.
In the Kitchen Again (Kindle ebook)