It was a scene that could have been lifted straight out of an Anne Tyler novel. A genteel old man, well dressed and well mannered, forgets at the check out whether he has a discount card for this particular drugstore; the line behind him grows as he rattles around looking for his card, but the gentle humour with which he handles his moment of confusion and the respect he shows for the cashier seems to bring out the best in the rest of us, discouraging even a hint of impatience.
Moments later, I step out into the parking lot, not entirely sure where I left my car. There is some sort of commotion at the exit; a small prang seems the most likely explanation. I try not to panic, aware that I am on a tight deadline to pick up the kids from camp.
I locate the minivan after wasting time looking for the wrong car, and find the traffic near the exit is at a small standstill. When it begins to move I am not in the least bit surprised to see that the same old man was involved in the parking lot prang or that he is driving a Mercedes. Somehow he is still smiling as he exchanges details with a woman in her sixties. I am relieved that this mishap did not bring him into the orbit of a more aggressive personality.
I think he really shouldn't be driving anymore but guess that nobody has the heart to tell him. Or maybe his gentle manner disguises a stubborn streak that only his wife and children are privy to.
I drive out of the parking lot and make the trek to Mountain View to collect the kids, arriving ten minutes early.