How I ended up walking into a sliding glass door in a supermarket is pretty simple. I got a text from my wife. I looked at my phone to read the message and, WHAM! Goodbye nasal cartilage.
I’m not surprised this happened, inasmuch as whenever I am at the supermarket I receive a lot of texts from my wife. My wife is one of those people who prefers to text me her supermarket list one item at a time. It’s unclear why she won’t give me the entire list at once. Maybe her list is a state secret. Maybe the grocery list is privileged information only known by those with security clearance.
Either way, I usually receive her fragmented supermarket list in the form of random neural firings, such as the following verbatim text: “we r out of non-iceberg.”
Truthfully, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what “non-iceberg” was, but I figured it was a Coors product.
So once I have gathered all items on her list, I’ll be standing in the checkout line and—DING!—another text comes through. I often receive this text at the exact moment I am placing my non-iceberg items on the conveyor belt.
The text will read something like: “we r out of good toilet paper.”
At which point I will sheepishly apologize to the cashier and quietly ask to cancel my sale so that I can leave the checkout lane to locate what my wife needs.
But the cashier usually tells me, no, it’s okay, she doesn’t want to cancel my sale since she’s already scanned half my items, she says she’ll just wait for me to jog across the store and fetch the toilet paper. At which point everyone in line behind me collectively agrees to set fire to my car.
The cashier then flips on her blinking aisle light, signaling that there is a major problem in Checkout Lane Five. And she tells me to “hurry up”.
This puts a lot of pressure on me. I can feel the clock ticking. So I rush through the supermarket, sweating from exertion, and out of breath. No sooner have I arrived back at the checkout lane than my phone dings again. It’s a text from my wife reading: “Get 2 cases of Diet Coke.”
So this was the kind of shopping experience I’d had when I was leaving the store yesterday.
After checking out, I was exiting the building when a text came through. I was carrying my plastic bags and simultaneously reading my wife’s text when, SLAM! I ran into something hard.
If I would have seen what I had run into, I would have known that it was an automatic sliding door that had not opened all the way. But at the time the object felt like walking into the hull of the U.S.S. Iowa.
My nose suffered the brunt of the impact. I stumbled backward. I clutched my face and made a high-pitched sound often associated with felines in labor.
The store employees were concerned, of course. I could tell this by the helpful way they gathered around me and genuinely tried not to pee themselves.
“Omigod,” said one male employee, who was laughing so hard he was wheezing. “You just walked into the freaking door, man!”
“Are you okay?” said a teenage employee, wiping tears of concern from her eyes.
They helped me collect my scattered grocery items and escorted me out of the store. Later, when I inspected my face in my vehicle mirror, I noticed that although my face was pointing east, my nose was facing west. I was bleeding a little, but other than that I was okay.
I bring all this up because texting and walking is a far more serious issue than you might think. Texting and walking cause about 11,000 injuries per year and leads to roughly 5,000 annual pedestrian deaths.
Distracted walking is steadily being discouraged in many U.S. states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, where it is now against the law. A violation can get you up to an $85 ticket. In Honolulu, walking and texting is punishable by a fine of $99. And in England, they’ve already started padding public lampposts.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about possibly being fined a hundred bucks for checking a text while walking, but I’m definitely in favor of padding all solid vertical objects. I’m in strong favor of this idea especially today, as I hold a package of frozen corn over my face to reduce swelling.
Although I have to admit, this ice-cold can of non-iceberg I’m drinking works very well, also.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].