The parking lot search for non-violent people over 21

Posted in blog post on July 18th, 2011 by Merrill Markoe

A couple of days ago,  I was unloading the packages from my shopping cart in to the back of my car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot when a short haired young man in board shorts, a teeshirt and sun glasses came up to me.

“Excuse me m’am,” he said, “ But I’m taking a communications class and we’ve been asked to interview non violent people over 21. Just a couple of questions. Would that be okay?”

I shrugged.

“Are you non violent?” he asked.

“Well, for purposes of this discussion, I’ll just say yes,” I said.  Meanwhile, I was wondering, “He said ‘A communications class.’ Is he practicing being a news man? Or is this some kind of an anti-war thing? Does he want me to sign a petition?”

“Here. Let me show you my I.D.” he said, taking out a big bill fold that looked oddly familiar, though I wasn’t sure where I’d seen it before. From other sales pitches? Kids selling magazine subscriptions?

“If you’re about to try to sell me something, don’t bother,” I said, “I’d be disqualified. I become violent when strangers tell me how to spend my money..”

“No no…” he said, “I’m just looking for sponsors in order to…”

“Forget it” I said, interrupting, “I don’t want mints. I don’t want magazine subscriptions. I don’t want to make any donations right now.”

“How about if I come to your house and offer my services for 24 hours.” He said, “ You can ask me to clean or order me around. I’m 18. I’m in my prime.”

“It’s a lovely offer,” I said, now getting really confused because it was a kind of creepy thing to say since I didn’t know him and so I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or what. (I mean, its summer. Its hard for students to make money in the summer and….Naw. He was kidding. But still.)“But there’s absolutely nothing you could be offering that I would be interested in buying…”

Eventually he shrugged, then he waved and walked off. As I turned away to complete unpacking my groceries (while trying not to further contemplate what would have happened if I had taken that guy up on his offer to come to my house and clean)  a second young man in the big long shorts approached. “I’m representing my communications class,” he said,”…and I need to talk to non violent people who..”

“Forget it,” I said, now ready to get in my car,  “I was just non violent for him.”

“…are cver 21” he continued, “and who would ..”

“No no no, I don’t qualify.” I said,” I’m definitely over 21 but I’m violent now.”

“No you’re not.” He said, chuckling.

“Yes I am too.” I argued.

“No you’re not.” He said again, grinning.

“Yes I am so.” I said.

“Oh, you are not,” he said a third time and as he began to continue his pitch, a list of moves I learned when I took a street fighting class some years ago began to flip through my mind. I could do “heel palm”. I could do “knee.” I felt I needed to do something to make my point. So I  reached over and punched him.

Okay. I didn’t really. I just got in the car and closed the door.

But Goddamn it… I should have. Just because of how much better if would have made the end of this story.



I have a new book coming out in November. If you are a non violent person over 21 and for some reason you could be talked in to pre-ordering it, you could do it here:

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