Record - 38 DIALOG(R)File 714:(Baltimore) The Sun (c) 2004 Baltimore Sun. All rts. reserv.
05861175 BE THANKFUL FOR NO GHOSTS IN CHRISTMAS PRESENT, FUTURE
This is a scary Christmas story.
A little over a week ago, I attended an office Christmas party in downtown Ellicott City. The food, drink and company combined for a pleasant evening. The cheery mood that grabs people like no other time of the year permeated the gathering.
I went to the party knowing I'd have to leave prematurely to fulfill a promise I'd made to myself to finish my holiday shopping that night. After a fun two hours, I left, feeling another surge of Christmas spirit. I remembered I had to stop home to grab some extra cash before heading to The Mall. It was about 8:30 p.m.
The night was unseasonably warm, and a light rain had been falling since midafternoon. The roads were slick. As I turned left, passed the county police station and headed down Rogers Avenue toward U.S. 40, I remember thinking to myself how unfortunate it was that the weather was this lousy, this close to Christmas.
Then it happened.
I spotted a reflection of two small circles off the right side of the road, and instantly suspected they were the eyes of a large deer. The buck or doe, which revealed only its head as it stood in a slight gully that separated the road shoulder from someone's front yard, waited another split second before bolting into the road and confirming my fears.
By this time, I had already hit my brakes in anticipation of the deer's decision. I had to apply the brake lightly so my car wouldn't go into a tailspin on the wet road. As I lurched forward slightly in my front seat, I noticed out of the corner of my eye another deer, a fawn that was trailing behind its leader.
Somehow I missed the large deer, which passed no more than 10 feet in front of my car. The fawn wasn't as lucky. The loud thump I heard hit the right rear panel sounded like the product of a sledgehammer.
I was traveling at about 30 mph. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw nothing. I assumed the deer had run into the woods on the other side of the road. I proceeded, stunned and a little shaken, to the traffic light some 300 yards away.
The light was red, which afforded me the chance to get out and inspect the damage. The right rear panel contained a sizable dent. It would have to be fixed.
While driving the last few minutes home, I contemplated the hassles that awaited me. My insurance company would have to estimate the damage. I'd have to find a body shop to do the necessary work, pay the deductible, rent a car for at least a day. All the inconveniences that come with car repairs.
Then, as one tends to do when experiencing a brush with disaster, I began playing a "what-if" game in my mind. What if I hadn't hit my brakes when I did? What if the large deer had hit me broadside instead of missing me by a few scant feet? What if I'd lost control of my car?
I've read enough newspaper accounts of these kinds of accidents.
As you probably know, a full-grown deer has the physical makeup akin to that of a brick wall. People have had their cars destroyed and have been badly injured or even killed in auto collisions with deer.
Once I thought it through, I realized I was too lucky to be mad.
SOURCE: Gary Lambrecht
EXPRESS AISLE ANGER: THE GUY WITH FULL CART
The scene has no doubt been replayed countless times in countless grocery stores.
You run into your local Giant or Safeway to buy a few items to get you through the week. The store's cashiers are busily tending to formidable lines at several registers, but thanks one of those modern miracles of convenience -- the express aisle -- your stay will be brief.
Or so you thought.
You step into aisle one, which is marked by a hanging, bold-lettered sign that reads "10 items or fewer" and a space where you can deposit your hand-held container after placing your items on the conveyor.
That's when your ho-hum shopping experience turns sour. Parked right in front of you is a shopping cart containing at least two dozen items and operated by a conveniently illiterate shopper.
And if the rude customer's ignorance of the express aisle rules isn't enough to make you boil inside, you then are forced to endure the cashier's polite manner, while he or she waits on this inconsiderate person as if nothing is amiss.
I've watched this played out dozens of times, and never have I seen the cashier do what I'm dying to see done -- refuse to wait on the customer, and ask politely but firmly that he or she take the cart to an appropriate aisle.
Once I couldn't contain my anger. Just before I got in line in the "10 items or fewer" line with my milk and bread, a woman swung her shopping cart in front of me.
Noticing immediately her cart was nearly overflowing with what looked like a week's worth of groceries, I stopped counting at 25 items and said sarcastically, "Gee, is this sign hanging at a weird angle or what? Here, let me adjust it for you. Can you read it now?"