Open letter to a Powell’s customer

Yeah, you, the one who has such essential dialogues that you can’t be bothered to look up and recognize that you’re standing in the middle of a primary traffic aisle and blocking me and my stroller (and half a dozen other patrons) from passing.

Now I realize that strollers are a contentious issue, and there are many non-breeders who see my stroller as an offensive accoutrement akin to stinking cigars or a sponge-bath in patchouli. And I sympathize with that—I am well aware that I am imposing on people with my post-conception contraption. That’s why I don’t take the stroller down tight aisles, into stores which cannot accommodate such portable furniture, and I don’t aim the stroller at strangers vulnerable legs even when they won’t get out of my way. My lifestyle of choice (fatherhood) requires the stroller, and I do my best to avoid impacting other people’s lives with my choices.

However, Powell’s is a stroller friendly atmosphere (during non-peak hours, especially), and our encounter did not take place in the cluttered confines of a literary aisle—it was under a double door that led to one of only two exits from that fabulously labyrinthian store. How you managed to block enough of a double door to prevent my passage is still a mystery of geometry to me, but you somehow managed to do it. (Perhaps what blocked me was the psychic extension of your gargantuan ego.)

Had you been one of the aforementioned non-breeders, I would have chalked it up to a passive/aggressive commentary on my over-populating tendencies. But you have a child! You stood there, ignoring my repeated “excuse me”s while you discussed what sounded like the estimated celestial speed of Saturn with the 8-year old boy who was simultaneously being schooled in how to be a self-centered egotist, apparently intent on exerting your “right to exist” with no consideration for the impact your existence has on other people. I didn’t ask you to babysit, I didn’t ask you help me lift the stroller over an obstacle, I simply asked you adjust your spread-eagle stance momentarily while my daughter and I passed. Silly me, having the audacity to actually try to live my life at the same moment you were living yours! Please accept my apologies for not waiting my turn.

Did you never experience a similar issue when you were raising your child? Smokers can usually count on sympathy from ex-smokers, but anything resembling maternal sympathy was carefully hidden in your self-centered demeanor. Or perhaps you are simply an aunt who was taking the child on an obligatory day-out and Powell’s seemed like a good place to say, “Get lost, I’ll meet you here in an hour”? Whatever the case, next time your at Powell’s, please go to the blue room, reference section, and look up the word “Courtesy” in the dictionary. You will hopefully notice that nowhere in the definition does it say, “a thing that other people should do.”)

Yet despite how you’ve frustrated me, I am writing to let you know that I am forgiving you for your uncouth rudeness. (And as Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “I’m trying real hard, Ringo.”) I have had moments of pure obliviousness in my life, and will assume that you were experiencing the same at that moment. But know this: If the situation is re-enacted and another series of “excuse me”s are met with the same inaction on your part, I’m coming through anyway, and can guarantee that the jagged, barbed end of the stroller-wheel axle will accidentally tear into the flesh of your I’ll-move-when-I’m-ready shin.

And then I will repeat, “oh, excuse me”, and proceed, smiling, to the check out line.

Happy shopping!


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