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Ringers of Bells

2005-12-18

Category: General

Unfortunately, I had to go shopping. I use a humidifier for the winter months and the old filter was crusty and, perhaps, a bit mildew-covered. Also unfortunate, there is only one place in town where I can get the filters for my humidifier and I?m not about to toss out a perfectly good machine and buy a new one just because of a little inconvenience.

Earlier in the day, I ran other shopping related errands. That?s not a safe thing to do during the feeding frenzy that comprises Christmas shopping. The streets, parking lots, stores, and all other public areas were packed with cars and people. Despite the occasional nut, most everyone behaved well. This is no surprise since Cedar Rapids was named the city with the safest drivers in the US.

That shopping experience did nothing harmful to my mood. I actually smiled a bit and almost never growled at a small child the whole time. There was no reason to expect that my next excursion should be different.

To start with, the only place that has my humidifier filter is Wal-Mart. The local Wal-Mart has two entrances. Both entrances were occupied by Ringers of Bells.

There is nothing more despicable than a Ringer of Bells. High-pitched, ringy noises give me an instant headache. (This is a result of having not spent my life listening to loud music and thus not building up that defense.) There are those who say that the Salvation Army and its Ringers of Bells are a traditional part of the holiday. To that I say we should add other winter traditions such as freezing to death, starving, and being eaten by wolves.

If I approach a store and it has Ringers of Bells in the doorway, I will go to a different store unless I have no other options. Since Wal-Mart is the only place I can get my filter, options are extremely limited. I had to go in.

Walking through a crowded Wal-Mart is a difficult task without fire ants pulling apart your nervous system. My bell-induced head ache did not leave me tolerant of the stupidity one can find in such a store. I growled. I scowled. I had a generally unpleasant time.

People do some really inconsiderate things when shopping. Why do they feel the need to stop and block intersections in the aisle ways? When the aisles are only wide enough for two carts to pass by, why would one push one?s cart down the middle of that aisle? In those narrow aisles, why must your entire brood walk abreast and then look at the cart going the other direction as though the driver of that cart is doing something rude?

I made it through the throngs and purchased my filter: mission accomplished. I made it past the Ringer of Bells without spitting or pounding on his or her person. My car made it completely out of the parking lot without running anyone (a Ringer of Bells) down. Home welcomed me with centrally heated air.

Here?s a little hint for those of you who are Ringers of Bells. When you are out there annoying everybody with your noise and you see someone rushing past you, that person may have a good reason for it. For one, he or she may be in a hurry. Also, as in my case, the person may actually be in excruciating pain because of your callous disregard for the well-being of others. There is no need for you to lurch toward the person and ring your bell more aggressively at that individual. If you do it to me again, there?s a good chance that I?m going to knock you block off and then sue the Salvation Army until they have to melt every last one of those insufferable bells to pay off their legal fees.

So now my little home is properly humidified and cozy. I look out through the window plastic to the snow covered trees beyond and think how wonderful it is that I don?t have to go shopping again for a while.

I do have to give Wal-Mart proper credit for one good thing. They now have Dulcimers for sale. Any place that can offer to the public these little chordophones from the zither family has to have a least some spark of decency in its soul despite what people say.


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