One of the first lessons you are taught in the martial arts is the concept of environmental awareness.
You are less likely to be attacked if you know where you are.
Who you are with.
And your position within your surroundings.
This concept is lost on imbeciles who insist on texting while cruising down the 405.
Environmental awareness is also lost on my next door neighbor, owner of two vicious pitbulls and two monster pick up trucks that for some reason need to be washed every three days, despite California's severe drought.
Last weekend, for instance, he thought it would be a good idea to go to the garage at 2:30 AM, fire up his noisy Kawasaki racing bike and open up the throttle until the tires kicked off a noxious white cloud of smoke that would cover Pacoima.
The lack of environmental awareness knows no class lines. Earlier this week I was at the very tony Bristol Farms, where tuna fish salad is commonly referred to as albacore pate.
I had just finished swimming and was rushing to get back to the office. Because I like to think of myself as conscientious and punctual.
A young woman was at the register before me. In the most polite terms, she was a Chatty Kathy. She started squawking away with the cashier.
"Do you know where Brian is? You see I'm going to a party for my friend who just graduated from LMU Law School and I wanted to buy her a bottle of good champagne. I know she doesn't like sweet wine, but I didn't want get something too dry. I don't know much about champagne and I just picked a bottle because it has a pretty label. I wish Brian, the assistant manager were here."
"I think today is Brian's day off," replied the cashier.
"Oh, I was really hoping to get his expertise."
"Like I said, today is his day off."
I had just come out of the pool and was enjoying an endorphin high. Plus, some work had been approved earlier that morning and the stock market was trending up, so I was more than willing to indulge her inquiry. Which went on for quite some time.
Then the cashier spotted the grocery manager who was walking behind me.
"Oh Lou. Maybe you can help this young lady," said the cashier.
"Hi, I'm going to a party for my friend who just graduated from LMU Law School and I wanted to buy her a bottle of good champagne. I know she doesn't like sweet wine, but I didn't want get something too dry. I don't know much about champagne and I just picked a bottle because it has a pretty label. I was hoping Brian were here..."
I kid you not.
She launched into the entire long winded story once again.
I was trapped in vortex of cheap champagne chitter chatter.
I shot her an unmistakable look.
A look that said in no uncertain terms you have no right to waste my time, nor the time of the people behind us in line. Go on Google, do your research, hunt down Brian while he's fishing at Lake Cachuma, but don't hold up everybody up, on their lunch hour, because you couldn't track down the supermarket sommelier.
She sensed my rising pulse and grudgingly offered me to let me go in front of her.
And then when I thought she couldn't do anything to make herself more odious, she placed her hand on my elbow and said in a very soft passive aggressive tone...
"I hope the rest of your day goes better."
And I hope your friend pokes your eye out with the cork.