Tuesday, January 31

Angry People and Forbidden Parking Spots

Wow, there are a lot of angry people in the world...or maybe they're just all in Buffalo.

I'm guessing that's not the case though.

I was the victim of an angry person assault recently. Here's what happened...

Last Friday I was doing a little bit of writing at Panera and had my laptop with me and had it plugged into the wall. About an hour into my time at Panera I met up with an older, very experienced local freelance writer to chat about the business, etc. Because I got very involved in our conversation, I had shut my computer down and set it aside. By the time we finished chatting I needed to run over and pick the girls up from preschool.

No, I did not forget my computer if you're wondering if that is where this is going.

I did, however, leave the power cord plugged into the wall in the process of quickly packing up my computer and running to the car to pick up the girls on time.

Perhaps the real lesson here is...SLOW DOWN...I seem to get into a lot of trouble for moving too quickly sometimes....

That said, I realized later that day that I had forgotten my power cord, called Panera to confirm that they had it (they did) and told them I'd be by the next day to pick it up.

Enter crabby person portion of the story...

Scott was gone with Ava on Saturday morning (he took her to a ski lesson), so Ella and I were flying solo. By the time we cleaned up a lot of the house, put a weeks worth of laundry away and got dressed, it was 11:45...by the time we pulled into Panera's parking lot it was about 12:15 on a Saturday afternoon.

Have you ever pulled into a Panera parking lot at 12:15 on a Saturday afternoon? Yup...it was exactly what you'd expect. Jam packed with cars, parked and looking for spaces, and not a space to be found...It was also snowing pretty heavily and cold and wet so the thought of parking far behind the restaruant and dragging my 3 year old into the mob scene that Panera was did not strike me as particularly appealing....

I knew that they had my power cord behind the counter and that I would be very quick...

I made a judgement call...pull into the handicapped space at the front of Panera (where I could see the car through the front window), throw my flashers on, lock the doors (Ella was in the car), and run as quickly as possible so as to not keep the space from someone who needed it.

I figured, honestly, that if someone who really needed the spot showed up that they would be clued in by the fact that my flashers were on and they would wait the minute it would take me to grab my power cord for me to pull out and they could have their spot...

Was it a selfish decision? Perhaps. Until you have run errands with small children in the car on snowy, slushy days, please don't judge!

Can you see where this is going?

I ran in, went straight to the counter, asked the girl for my power cord, she asked her manager and he said, "Yes, we have it. One second."

In that one second, the tallest, angriest woman I have EVER encountered planted herself square in front of my face.

She was probably in her late 40's, about 5'11 (to my 5'1) and the anger in her face nearly knocked me to the floor before she even spoke.


She was screaming at me in front of the ENTIRE restaurant.

"Uh... I'm uh...sorry...I just needed to grab...."


"I'm sorry my daughter was in the car...and I just needed..."


I'm honestly not sure what else she said. She continued to scream at me as I stare at her dumfounded.

Seriously. Is this an issue of Seinfeld? Funniest Home videos? Some other reality show. I have NEVER parked in a handicapped parking spot in my ENITRE life and the one day that I do, with my FLASHERS on and my 3 year old in the car, I get verbally accosted by this woman?!

I was getting quite angry at this point...

"Excuse me. I said I was sorry. My 3 year old is in the car and I needed to run in here for 2 minutes."


In the meantime the cashier handed me my chord and started wide-eyed at the vicious dragon lady yelling at me.

I looked at the cashier with wide eyes, looked at that lady...

She pretty much looked like this...

"Whatever!" is all that came out of my mouth...not very graceful, or insightful, or poignant...I was completely flustered...

I ran so fast that I nearly knocked an older couple over when I pushed the door open to go outside...

"I'm sorry...I just got yelled at," I said...they stared too...

I got in the car and pulled out as quickly as possible...

And then I started crying...big...alligator tears...I was so flustered by the entire situation...

You see, I'm a pretty nice, easy going, person. I'm kind to other when I'm out. I smile at people. I even sit for several extra minutes when an elderly person tries to strike up a conversation at a coffee shop because they are alone and want someone to talk to.

I am a NICE person. Nice people don't know what to say to very, very angry people. We don't encounter them that often.

Poor Ella...I had promised to take her out to lunch. First we pulled into the grocery store parking lot where we were going to eat...I was still crying...we pulled out.

Then we drove 15 minutes back towards home and into the McDonald's parking lot...I was STILL crying....

I don't know what got a hold of me...merely the unexpected vicious anger from a very upset person...

"Sorry Ella."

"Mommy I'm hungry, are we going to get lunch?"

"Yes, honey. Sorry."

"Why are you crying."

"Because some lady at Panera was very, very mean to me. Does it make you sad when people are mean to you?"


"That's why we should always be nice to people."

I finally pulled myself together enough to go through the drive-thru to get Ella a cheeseburger.

At that point I was partially upset because the whole thing had upset me so much!

But, as Scott said when I talked to him, "You were just assaulted square in the forehead with the anger of the world...Can you imagine living that woman's life. Do you think her family likes her? Do you think she has great friendships? Maybe she's angry about needing to take care of her mother."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

All those things were likely true...

HOWEVER...even if all of those things were going in my life, I would be kinder to people in public...at least gently mentioning that I needed that spot for my elderly mother and ask if the person planned on staying there before publicly humiliating them without knowing the story!

For the record, eight minutes after I pulled out, drove to the grocery store parking lot and then past the front of Panera again... the spot was STILL empty.

Ephesians 4:32...Be kind and compassionate towards one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you.

If I'm honest, I'm still working on the forgiveness piece here...that ladies face is planted in my memory for all time.

I did also learn several important life lessons...

First, forgiveness is not easy, but very necessary.

Second, I'm grateful for a life in which Christ governs my thinking, actions and reactions to people in the world.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly...Do not park in handicapped spots ever, ever, EVER! Even if you have 10 children under the age of 4 in your car and need to run in for 90 seconds...(For the record, I do often think those parking spots should say "Handicapped or for moms with children under the age of 3"!). 


  1. You poor thing! Lisa, I agree with you 100%. For a tall woman, she seems "small" to me. And your hubby is right as well. As rudely as she handled it, she obviously has many issues and her anger was taken out on you. I can just imagine what the other customers thought about her drama scene! Forgive, try to forget, and pray for her miserable existence ;)

  2. Here, here to prime spots for mamas with children. I've always thought the spots at Babies R Us for expectant moms are wasted space. Give em to the moms with a gaggle of kids in tow. I guarantee they're way more flustered and tired than the mom who is walking around with her child neatly tucked inside. If I had been with you, I would've told that lady to back off and step away from my friend--she doesn't know you and she doesn't know your heart. Obviously. Hugs.

  3. Oh my goodness, I would have been crying too. SO sorry that happened to you. Maybe try to pray for her because Scott is right, you never know what is going on in her life. Pray for your enemies, you will be better for it:) And I will never ever park in a handicap spot after this story.never.ever.

  4. Thanks friends...Your sweet replies are encouraging!! It's good to have people who know you! And love you!


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