A Merry Little Christmas 

Keeping your cool — in Kroger and elsewhere.


So, I'm pushing a cart through the aisles of Kroger in Midtown, stocking up for an onslaught of holiday company. I've made it all the way to the frozen foods on the far side of the store. My cart over-floweth with Christmas bounty. I'm humming along with Al Green's version of the Bee Gees' classic "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," which is playing over the intercom. It's weird, but Al is nailing it.

Then I hear a page: "Will the owner of a silver Xterra, license plate xxx-xxx, please come to the customer service area?"

That's my car. "Damn," I think. Someone must have backed into me or something.

So, I wheel my heavily laden cart to the customer service area, where I see a very large woman at the counter with a basket of bagged-up food. The Kroger clerk says to me, rather brusquely: "You need to move your car. You parked too close to her car, and she can't get in."

I was apologetic. "Sorry," I said. "I must not have been paying attention. My bad."

So, I leave my cart at the service desk and walk out to my car with the large lady. When we get to the scene of the crime, I notice right away that my car is parked precisely between the lines of my space. Right in the middle. The driver's side of her car, on the other hand, is parked on the line between our cars, and even intrudes a little into my space.

I'm no Columbo, but it seems obvious that what has really happened here is that I've parked correctly next to a badly parked car, and that I've been called away from my shopping to fix a problem this woman created for herself.

I look at the woman over the top of my glasses. She looks at me. Something unsaid passes between us.

What do you think happened next?

a.) A mob of pizza-crazed teens came out of nowhere and started hitting us with pumpkins.

b.) I pulled out my pistol and said, "Let me introduce you to my little friend."

c.) It turned out the woman was Jesus in disguise.

d.) She turned to me, smiled sheepishly, and said, "I guess if I lost a little weight and learned to park better, this wouldn't happen." And I smiled and said, "No big deal. I can move it." Then we each said, "Have a Merry Christmas," and went on with our lives.

e.) And then I shot her.

The answer is d. A little Christmas spirit prevailed. And, it was good, and for that, I say, God bless us, every one.

We hope you enjoy this special end-of-the-year double issue, which allows all of our employees to get a nice break for the holidays. We'll see you in 2015!

Bruce VanWyngarden


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