Janesville57.1°

Standing in the line of fire

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Rick Horowitz
November 6, 2007
— Just your normal Sunday morning at the local Office Depot. I’ve got my latest little basket of goodies—more printer cartridges, more staples—and I’m No. 3 for checkout. No. 2 is right in front of me, standing behind his shopping cart. No. 1 is up at the register, finishing his business.

I’m waiting my turn, passing the time in daydream mode, when I suddenly notice that No. 1 and No. 2 are speaking to one another, and glaring at one another. From what I can piece together, No. 1 is annoyed that No. 2 has rolled his cart up to the register before No. 1 has completely left the register.


No. 2 is annoyed that No. 1, with his purchase already made, still hasn’t left the register, but is slowly—too slowly for No. 2’s taste, I gather—putting his money and his receipt back into his wallet before he leaves.


And there’s been contact. At least, No. 1 is claiming there’s been contact: He’s been hit, he says, by No. 2’s shopping cart.


Have I mentioned that No. 2 is a slightly built white guy, and that No. 1 is a much larger—and much blacker—guy? Irrelevant, or maybe not. Whatever their reasons, neither of them seems inclined to give the other one the benefit of the doubt.


No. 1 is saying No. 2’s cart rolled over his foot, and No. 2 is saying his cart did no such thing. Besides, No. 2 is saying, No. 1 was finished buying whatever he was buying and should have moved aside. No. 1 is saying he wasn’t done yet, so why should he have to move? No. 2 is saying that “if” his cart rolled over No. 1’s foot, he’s sorry, and No. 1 is saying there’s no “if” about it.


There’s more glaring, and then No. 1 turns and moves slowly toward the door, toward the parking lot. He’s just out of earshot—or maybe not—when No. 2 says to no one in particular:


“That’s why we need concealed carry.”


And then—just so there’s no misunderstanding, just in case I’m thinking I must have misheard him, he says it again:


“Anybody doesn’t think we need concealed carry is crazy.”


Concealed carry—the right to tuck the firearm of your choosing into the pocket of your choosing and go out among the population to keep us safe. Some states put limits on their concealed-carry rules—who can carry, and where. Other states aren’t quite so picky. Wisconsin, I keep hearing, is one of the strictest. I’ve always been fine with that.


No. 2 isn’t so fine with it, apparently.


And now that I’ve heard him—twice—with my own two ears, I’m standing there, in line at the Office Depot, trying to put myself inside his head.


First possibility in No. 2’s mind: If shopper No. 1 thinks shopper No. 2 might be packing heat, No. 1 won’t dilly-dally at the register.


Second possibility: If shopper No. 1 thinks shopper No. 2 might be packing heat, No. 1 won’t dare to glare or complain, even if No. 2’s cart rolls over his foot because he’s dilly-dallying at the register.


Third possibility: If it doesn’t occur to shopper No. 1 that shopper No. 2 might be packing heat and he dilly-dallies or glares or complains, he’ll stop doing it the moment No. 2 pulls his weapon out of wherever he’s been hiding it.


Fourth possibility: If shopper No. 1 insists on dilly-dallying or glaring or complaining anyway, No. 2 can pop him.


Feeling safer yet?



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