While pulling into the farmer's market parking lot, I noticed a woman backing out of a space who was completely unaware of my presence. I stopped and waited for her to notice me, but to no avail, she continued to back up. When she got dangerously close to my car, I beeped my horn to let her know that I was there. Or maybe I laid on my horn, in moments of panic, I don't always recall the specifics.
But the horn got her attention and she stopped immediately. As she pulled beside me toward the road she mouthed the word "sorry". I nodded, acknowledging her apology and as I started to pull into the empty space, the off-duty police officer who mans the lot motioned me over.
I've been going to the farmer's market every Tuesday and Friday for years and this particular off-duty officer is always there controlling the traffic flow. He's tall and thin, wears dark sunglasses (even when it's cloudy) and shaves his head. He almost looks like Mr. Clean, but not quite. I think he'd be flattered by the comparison, but quite frankly, he isn't nearly as buff as the grimefighter. Still, he's probably more at home at the farmer's market than at Dunkin' Donuts and I get the feeling he likes this gig of his.
I've never had a full-fledged conversation with him, we've just exchanged pleasantries, but based on the way he looks and the way he carries himself, I've managed to sum him up quite nicely. I do that often, and yes, I know that you can't judge a book by it's cover or a person by their appearance, but that never stops me. I'm quite good at it and on the rare occasion when I'm wrong and misjudge an individual, I am overwhelmed with guilt (but then am quick to do it again).
So, I roll down my window and Mr. thinks-he-looks-like-mister Clean, puts his (not very) massive forearms on my door and leans into my window and says, "She didn't see you, you know." And I want to say, "Really? Hmm, you don't say?" But, I don't say that, instead I say, "I know she didn't see me, that's why I beeped my horn." And then the keeper of the lot says, "Well, I saw your expression, ma'am and you looked angry." And I want to say, "Not as angry as I would have been had she hit my car." But, I don't say that, instead I say, "I'm sorry if I appeared angry, I think I was more scared than angry." And why are you getting all Dr. Phil with me? Is it against the law to look angry or do you just want me to work through my emotions? (and no, I did not say that).
Seriously? Are we having a discussion about my body language and facial expressions? Does he think he can sum me up based on how I look? Cause I get that, really I do. And I get the whole knowing-what's-going-on-in-your head thing because I fancy myself a doctor of psychology, too. I guess the difference is that I don't go telling people to roll down their car windows so that I can tell them what I think and he does. (and maybe I'm a little envious of him, because I'd like to be able to do that). (I'm just saying.)
So now he's turned his entire body and he's leaning on just one arm and his head is a bit closer to mine as if he's going to let me in on a big secret. And then he proceeds to tell me that tempers often flare in this parking lot and he does his best to keep everybody calm. Really? Do fruits and vegetables make people crazy, I wonder? Or does he make people crazy? Because I was fine until he told me to roll down my window. "Ok, listen up Officer, get your overly flexed bicep off of my car door, let me park my car, buy my veggies and then you can continue to pretend that you are controlling both the traffic flow and the overall mood of the farmer's market." But I don't say that, instead I say, "And we so appreciate all that you do." (And if I had that sarcastic font I would have applied it to the previous sentence.) Then I looked straight ahead, put my car in drive and pulled into the space.
I wasn't angry when I arrived at the farmer's market, but clearly I was leaving feeling a smidge irate. But then I thought, I was soooo right about Mr. Clean; I knew he thought he was something special. And just knowing that I was right made me happy. And when I left the parking lot, I tooted my horn, but I made sure that it was a happy toot.