Roskolnikov in the Parking Lot
I have to write a confession. I have to state what I have done with the hope of cleansing my mind and my soul. I think it is best to confess here on Medium, because almost no one reads what I write. That way my conscience can be cleared, and so am I.
I (may have) committed this despicable deed about a month ago. I had run an errand to get some medicine for my wife. She has a chronic illness and sometimes I rush to get her medicine. That was the case on on busy Friday night. We were rushing to go out with friends, another couple. He was a Commander of Police, and we have been friends for a long time. My wife enjoys their company. I find him a bit pompous, especially since he has become a Commander, which was a while ago. He has become very judgmental and suspects everyone. He thinks he has a keen sense of who has done evil, but he is often fooled.
That night, I drove quickly to the parking lot of the large chain drug store. I walked quickly passed isles of the make-up that women use to hide their blemishes and smaller deformities. They all smelled sweet and suggestive of promises unfulfilled. I walked past the isles of medicines for pain, allergies, digestive illness, and other maladies that I did not understand and did not want to know about.
I got on the line to pick up the perception medicines, which is always tucked back behind everything else they try to sell,, which either you don’t need, is bad for you, or is barely effective. Many of the prescription medicines are very effective, and very expensive. Others will make you fat or constipated, or stupid, or keep you awake at night. Then you will need more medicines for those symptoms ( referred to as “side-effects).
I felt fortunate that the line had only two people in front of me. The first was an attractive young woman in very tight pants and very high heels. I could feel my heart beat a bit faster as she bent over to sign the machine that took her money. The clear definition of the entire backside of her body encouraged me to think that life will continue and a new generation will be conceived, probably soon. She grabbed her little bag of pills and quickly walked away.
Now, the only obstacle to my rushing home to prepare for the evening was the couple who moved up to the counter. They looked like old people, and by that I mean about three years older than me. They were both stooped, with gray hair, where it was still growing. They walked slowly. They seemed a bit frightened and uncertain of everything. This would not be good for me.. I realized that my slight thrill at seeing a young woman in full flower was quickly replaced by the aggravation of watching these pedals wither and fall off the stem.
The wife asked for three prescriptions the man asked for four. The clerk was very efficient and retrieved them quickly from the wall full of tiny bags full of tiny pills that bring billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies all over the world. Good. Done.
But wait. “This medicine that we get is the same for us. Why does his cost three times more?” the woman asked the clerk, as the husband looked perplexed.
The clerk looked at the screen in front of him. “He takes more medicines than you do Ma’am, so he is now in the donut hole.”
“The donut hole?” she asked plaintively, but with a strong, annoying edge.
“The donut hole.” I thought. It will take an hour to explain the donut hole to this couple.
The clerk made an attempt. “After you spend a certain amount of money on your prescriptions, you reach a point where you have to pay more money.”
Not helpful, I thought.
“Call your insurance company, ask them to explain your drug coverage.” added the clerk before they could ask the next question.
Very helpful, I thought. A well trained clerk.
I picked up my wife’s prescription. She too is in the donut hole, but I did not question the cost. I rushed out to my car.
I was driving the car that doesn’t require me to do anything but push one button to get into it and the get it going. I pushed that button and, since I had backed into the parking space so that I could get out quickly, I looked around, saw no one coming and pulled out.
That’s when something terrible (may have) happened.
What was that hesitation? Did the car lurch? Did I scrape the car next to me? Did I turn too sharply and ding the bumper or clip the light? Did I scrape the side of my car or put a dent into that car? Or was it nothing, just a bump in the parking lot?
I stopped the car. I looked around. I couldn’t see much from my side. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I DON’T Have Time for THIS!! I have to get home. I have to take a shower. I’m late already. I don’t NEED this SHIT in my LIFE!! I have enough to deal with!
It was nothing. I’m getting out of here
Maybe I should get out and just check. It’s probably nothing. I’m sure it was nothing.
I look around. There is no one in the parking lot but a woman walking the other way. Her car is in the next row. She didn’t turn around. There must not have been a noise. She isn’t looking. She didn’t see anything.
Good. I can go. Let’s just GO. Let’s get out of here. Who knows? Who cares?
I drove out of the lot and into traffic. I am about three miles from home, on a very busy major street late on a Friday afternoon. I am stuck in traffic but I got passed the first light. No one seems to be coming after me. If they are, unless they’re the police, they can’t catch me in this traffic.
But who would come after me? Nothing happened. I didn’t do anything.
But if I did, I ran away. I shouldn’t have run away. That’s the wrong thing to do. I just panicked and ran away. I could have just looked. If there was a bump, I could have just left my number. It couldn’t have been that bad. I can fix a scratch, or pay for it. How much could it be?
What a creep I am. Who does something like this and then runs away? What am I running from? A couple of hundred dollars maybe. I can afford it. If I did it. I should be responsible.
What if something like that happened to me,; how would I feel?
It has, quite a few times. No one ever left a name or number. I have all kinds of scratches on the other car. Scratches, dings, paint chips, bumps. How do I feel? I mostly don’t think about it. I remember when I got scratched by a blue car. A long blue line down on the passenger side. Most of it came off with a little Scratch Doctor cream. So what’s the big deal, it was $9.99 at Auto Zone. Anyone can afford that. Everyone knows these things happen in a parking lot.
Just forget about it.
But what if it was a woman and she was driving her husband’s new car? What he is abusive and gets furious that she got a scratch? Am I responsible for her abuse?
Was it a new car? I don’t even know what kind of a car it was. It was a big car, one of those stupid, oversized SUVs that take up too much room. Bigger than a parking space. Those cars deserve to get scratched. There is no need to take a car like that to pick us six ounces of pills. They use too much gas. They take up too much space. It must have a hundred scratches, just from being so big. I’m just sending them a needed message that they should buy a Corolla.
Still, I’m a good person. Good people don’t just wreck things and drive away. That’s “hit and run.” That’s against the law. Is it a felony? in a parking lot?
What if that lady did see me? What if she got my license plate? Will she tell the police?
“I saw this guy, in his wife’s car. He just smacked that big car and drove way. Hit and run.”
Even if she didn’t see it was in the parking lot of drug store. There must be cameras all over the place. They have to watch for the people who are stealing all the Oxys. It happens everywhere now. They rob drug stores.
I realized that as soon as the lady who owns the big car comes out of the store she will see that her car is scratched. She will go back into the store’s security department and ask to look at the surveillance tape. Bingo. The police will be at my house tomorrow. My wife will wonder why they are at the door. What do I say?
I begin to wonder if I should go back. Is it too late to leave my number? Is this really a felony? I begin to feel too warm and a bit sweaty. I can’t turn around. The traffic is too heavy. I’m sure that by the time I get back the car I (may have) hit will be gone. Probably down to the police station with the security tape in hand.
I begin to see what a terrible situation I have put myself in. Again I think, what kind of person am I. I have not only done damage, I have put myself in grave danger. I should have realized everything that happens in the world is under surveillance. I should have realized that we are all watched, all the time, and between that camera, the credit card charge at the store, my car’s license plate, my late library books, that all the authorities know my every move. What an old-fashioned fool I’ve been, to think that anything goes unnoticed.
But, as the light changes, so does my mind. I can see the other side of my terrible behavior. What if I did scratch the car, but only slightly. Something that could have been rubbed off with an old dish towel? And then I left my number. And the owner of the car is major opportunist who sees a sucker when he lands in his lap. He takes the scratch to his friend at the auto body place. They crank out a $4500 bill to replace the door, or fender or light, or whatever I may have hit. I pay my $500 deductible and my insurance rate goes up for the next ten years. What justice is there in that. The world is full of sleazy people. Perhaps, I avoided a scam. Maybe I’m smarter than I think. Maybe I should just trust my gut, and follow my basic, primal, lower brain decision making abilities. Evolution has made us this way for our own protection.
I finally arrive home. My wife tells me to hurry-up and get ready. In the shower I am still of two minds. Still very bothered by how I reacted, but hoping I will get away with it. Feeling as if I am sitting on a time bomb.
As I get dressed for dinner I see a big black SUV pull up in front of my house. Again, my heart begins to race, and I begin to feel kind of trapped. No where to go. Can’t run out the back door with my wife in the kitchen. Anyway. the SWAT team is probably waiting for me. Good thing I’m an old white guy or they would shoot me as I ran out.
The doorbell rings. I wait. I hold my breath.
My wife answers the door. I hear her laugh and welcome the Commander of Police, and his wife. We go to dinner and I spend the entire evening trying to look relaxed. We talk about local crimes. We talk about serious crimes, like Deflategate. The Commander thinks the evidence was weak. He lost money on last year’s Jet’s game and is still upset.. I remember not to drink too much, although I would love to. I know I would be risking the possibility of getting morbid and confessing everything.
I wonder if the Commander can tell how uncomfortable I am. If he can see through my eyes and into my mind. How strangely am I acting?
I see that the Commander has no worries about spilling out the darkness of his soul. He is on his third martini.
That night I don’t sleep well. In the morning I wake up tired and still tense. Nothing has happened yet, but I know nothing will happen until Monday. I try to act unconcerned. We have breakfast and talk about things we need to get accompanied this weekend. I want to make sure the house is in shape before I am on the news doing my” perp walk.” I can feel the cuffs around my wrists; they will be pulled too tight.
That afternoon at Home Depot I get in a discussion with the man at the counter about how to wire a new light for over my shed. I forget about the whole thing for a while. At home i still feel upset, but it takes me a while to remember why.
* * * * * *
It’s ben over a month since that incident happened. Now I have written out my confession and I feel better. I have not thought about the incident for three weeks. It came back to my mind today when My wife asked me to go and get her medicine. I wonder if anyone will remember me there? Are they waiting for me to return?
What have I learned? I realize that my instinct is for self-protection. When it came to fight or flight, I ran. I was not helpful or altruist. But I didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t get exploited.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that I never even hit that car. I am a good person for worrying about it so much. Who else would do that?
I know what I learned. I will be more careful in a parking lot. Especially ones that probably have surveillance cameras.
Thank you Medium for hosting my confession. I am a nobody. Not even a poor graduate student. No one will read it. I am safe. I am saved.