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Thursday, October 14, 2010


Vidad MaGoodn

It was a balmy Monday morning when Mrs. Goldstein pushed her half-filled shopping cart into the crisp South Florida sunlight. As she came alongside her aging Buick, she saw it. Unmissable as a nude sunbather, a perfect little pucker adorned the driver’s side door. A dent. On her car.

With a loud gasp she looked closer, shopping cart abandoned. Sure enough, the maroon panel had a ding the size of a baseball, concavity revealing some past act of unobserved aggression.

“Well, look at that! Someone hit my car,” Goldstein exclaimed, as if this occurrence was one of the most remarkable of her 70-plus years of existence, “And they didn’t even leave a card or anything!”

A young Argentinean woman was chatting on her cell near her parking space, queen palm overhead and a young girl beside her.

“Miss,” Mrs. Goldstein snapped, “did you happen to see anything?”

The woman shrugged.

“Was that a yes or a no, young lady? Look! My car was hit! Please tell me you saw something!”

The woman shook her head and continued chattering away in Spanish. The little girl sucked her fingers and stared.

“People these days are so inconsiderate,” Goldstein loudly complained to no one, “they don’t even care about others in need. Even an old woman with no one to help.”

Her hawk eyes snatched at an approaching middle-aged man and a young teenage boy. They were heading for the Ford beside her Buick, and yes—they were getting in!

She pounced. “Sir, pardon me, SIR?!”

“Yes ma’am?” He pushed his cap back on his head, blue eyes hinting concern.

“See my car? See this dent?”

The man walked around, boy close behind. He eyed the indentation. “Yep. Looks like someone dinged you good.”


He frowned a bit. “Are you accusing me of doing that?”

She frowned back. “Maybe not you – but maybe this young man? Boy – did you get out of the car a little too quickly and maybe push your door into MY car?”

The teenager’s lip curled slightly. “No! Heck no.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to simply own up to the fact that you were a bit clumsy? It happens to the best of us. It would be very easy to just push too hard and accidentally bash an old woman’s door in!”

“No, ma’am, I…”

His dad interrupted him. “Listen lady, if my son says he didn’t do it – he didn’t do it!”

Mrs. Goldstein sniffed. “Well! I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this. Just be glad you’re not the one with the damaged car and no witnesses,” her voice lowered, filling with pathos, “Count your blessings. Ever since my husband died I’ve been trying to do everything on my own… it’s tough for an old woman alone. And I can barely live on my Social Security. So… this is a big problem, okay?”

The man nodded. “I’m sure, and I’m sorry. But it’s not too big a dent. Heck, I could probably push it out for you.”

“No, no – don’t do that!”

He poked an exploratory finger at the panel. “Yeah, could probably do it.”

Mrs. Goldstein shook her head. “No, no thank you. I’d rather get my mechanic to look at it. Just go on home—I’m sure you’ve got things to do.” She smiled at the teenager. “Would you like some gum?”

He didn’t.

“Well, then—have a good day and thanks for trying to help out an old woman.”

“Sure, sure. No problem. Good luck.”

He and the teen got into their car and pulled out, leaving her alone again. As they drove away, she spotted another possible witness. He was smoking a black-and-mild by the front door, wearing a basketball jersey, fro-pick in hair lit by the sun.

“Sir?” She was twenty feet away from him. “Excuse me?”

He didn’t notice her at first.

“Excuse me—over here—by the dented car!”

He turned his head and saw her, a woman slightly stooped with age and wearing the kind of gold-and-black blouse only old ladies wear.

“Yeah? What’s up?”

She beckoned him over with her index finger. Half-grin on his face, he shrugged and came closer.

“What can I do for you, ma’am?”

“See this?” She pointed to her car.

“Your car?”

She snorted ungraciously. “No—the DENT in my car. Right here.”

“Yeah, I see it. So?”

“So… I want to know if you saw anyone hit it. Or maybe even you did it on accident. Perhaps with a shopping cart?”

He laughed. “I didn’t hit your car, lady. And I didn’t see nothing from up there by the door, you know?”

She raised an eyebrow. “The whole lot is clearly visible – yet you didn’t see anyone?”

“Uh-uh. Nothing. Maybe you got hit by someone before I got here. I sure didn’t see it.”

“Well, maybe that’s what happened. But that’s a really sad commentary on our culture. People don’t have any sense of respect for others’ property anymore. I don’t have the money to get this repaired – I can barely afford groceries – and yet here they are, warming in the sun while I try to figure out who in the world could have dinged my car.”

He stubbed out his cigar on the ground.

“Well, I’m sorry about all that. Hope you find out what happened. Maybe you should go in and tell ‘em at the front. Maybe someone knows something.”

She patted him on the shoulder. “That’s a very good idea. I’ll do just that. Thank you, young man, you’ve been very helpful to an old widow.

“No biggie.” He waved a hand and walked into the store.

Mrs. Goldstein opened her damaged car and put her groceries in the passenger’s seat, talking loudly to herself about her misfortunes.

“There just isn’t any justice in this world… no thought for anyone but me, me, me.”

Shaking her head, she slammed the door a little harder than was necessary, then tromped up to the store. The automatic door swooshed open, a gasp of Northern air exhaling out into the tropical warmth.

“Manager!” she yelled as she broke the threshold, “I need to talk to the manager!”

A young dark-haired girl at the front smiled at her. Her name badge read “Cassie.” “Hi ma’am, welcome to ShopMart, how can I help you?”

Goldstein took a step towards her. “You CAN’T! That’s why I was asking for the manager!”

Cassie backed up but Goldstein pressed closer. “Call your manager!”

“Yes, ma’am, of course.” The girl ducked behind the service desk and dialed for help.

Goldstein muttered to herself. “Incompetence is everywhere!”

Then a sharply-dressed black man strode up.

“Ma’am? Can I help you?”

Goldstein turned to him. “Are you the manager?”

“Of this shift, yes. My name is Thomas. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Thomas – my car was damaged.”


“Dented. In YOUR parking lot!”

“I’m very sorry to hear that. But the store is not responsible for any damages that occur due to shopping carts or other accidents in our parking lot.”

“So there’s nothing you can do? Don’t you have cameras or something that we can review to track down the idiot that damaged my car?”

“No – I’m sorry. And I’m sorry it happened here.”

She sniffed. “Me too. You see… I’m all alone in the world. No kids in town, no husband. My car is one of the few things I own for myself anymore. It’s just… so hard to live on social security with ailing health and very little resources…”

Thomas nodded gravely, then reached behind the customer counter.

“Here,” he said, “take this. It’s just a small gift card, but maybe it will make this week a little better for you.”

She beamed at him through wet eyes. “Oh, thank you, sir. Thank you!” She patted his arm. “You’ve brightened my day.”

She turned to Cassie who still hovered nervously behind the counter. “You could learn a lot about customer service from this man, young lady.”

Cassie shrunk into herself. Mrs. Goldstein patted the manager on the arm again and stepped out into the sunshine.

“Well, at least she likes you,” Cassie exclaimed.

Thomas grinned. “She should!”

“Why… because you just gave her a gift card?”

“No. Because she does this every week.”


“Yeah. That ding’s probably two years old.”

“Two years old! But… you’re giving away the store’s money?”

He grinned. “Naw, I just give her the empty ones.”

Story-a-Day is an attempt to bring a small bit of humor and amusement to Mrs. ~brb and Audrey as they fight very serious illnesses. If you have a short, amusing story, please send it to kersley.fitz at yahoo dot com. If you'd prefer, you can drop it in the drop.io (password: challenge) and email me to let me know it's there.
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