Antics make it seem a bit cooler outside

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It was definitely summertime in south Alabama. It was probably 98 degrees when I stepped out of the air-conditioned car. Fortunately, I had found a parking place close to the supermarket entrance. The hot, sticky air wrapped itself around me as I hurried inside.

Cool air embraced me. I grabbed a cart and moved past the colorful displays of the weekend specials. I dashed down an aisle, paused to choose a loaf of bread, and moved on. When I reached the case with rows of plastic milk jugs, I found what I needed. It was on a top shelf, just out of my reach. Being short, I encounter this challenge almost every time I grocery shop. Neither a clerk nor a fellow shopper was in sight. I moved along until I saw a man coming in my direction. “Sir, can you help me?” I asked, pointing to a half-gallon no-fat milk container. He graciously obliged. I thanked him and placed the milk in my cart.

Fifteen minutes later, loaded with twice as much as I planned to buy, I paid for my purchases and pushed the cart outside. As I moved the stuffed plastic bags to my trunk, I noticed a dark cloud looming overhead.

My hand stung from the heat of the car door handle. The interior of the car was so hot it made me dizzy for a minute or two. The steering wheel was hot to the touch. I started the engine, opened the front windows a tad, and flipped on the air conditioner. Hot air tumbled out of the vents. Soon afterwards though, the interior of the car began to cool.

I rushed inside the house with two loads of grocery bags, beating thunder, lightning and rain by just seconds. In minutes, water poured from the roof gutters. Suddenly the front yard transformed into a pool wide enough to swim in. One minute heat, the next a downpour.

Summertime incidents like this remind me of another sweltering July day. I was on my way home from work. Traffic in my lane slowed to a crawl. The vehicles in the opposite lane had completely stopped.

It had been a busy day at work. All I wanted was to get home, relax, and enjoy a meal with my husband. I got grumpier by the minute.

Finally, the cars in the opposite lane started moving. I noticed the people I met were laughing. What in the world did they have to laugh about? Then I saw a female flagman doing a little dance with every wave of her flag. Despite her own discomfort in that boiling sun, she was easing the tension by making those creeping along laugh.

Forgive me if I’ve told you this story before, but I smile every time I think of it. When you hit a traffic snag on a blistering day or get irritated by the heat, I hope you will remember the dancing female flagman. Maybe it will make you smile, too.


Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter. Her column appears on Saturdays.