You know, I like Birmingham. It’s pretty nice. There are, however, days here and there where it’s a little too obvious that it’s in Alabama. Today was one of those days.
I met K. for lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant before rehearsal. It’s in a little shopping plaza with next to no parking, and the lot is always a complete madhouse at lunchtime. I was in my car waiting for someone behind me to move so that I could back out of the space. It occurred to me after a minute or so that it was taking slightly longer than usual for enough space to clear so that I could leave. It also occurred to me that there were people shouting.
I didn’t see the beginning of the altercation, but I did see an old woman in orange pants and a fedora run after a guy in skater attire while attempting to hit him over the head with her four-footed cane and telling him that she would kill him. I’m pretty sure she meant it. She chased him in a full circle around his van, at which point his friend in the passenger seat got out and attempted to call her off. She then chased him in a circle around the van while the first guy cowered behind the open door.
(The first car behind me still hadn’t moved, and a second one had by this point stopped right next to it to watch.)
An older man came from somewhere (not sure if he was her husband or something or merely a random man who wasn’t afraid of canes) and grabbed her by the non-cane-holding wrist. For at least a good 30 seconds, she was frozen in mid-stride, cane raised over her head and one foot lifted, ready to hit the ground running. The two guys got back in their van, but they couldn’t go anywhere since there was a crazy lady with a cane directly behind them. The woman finally realized that she was no longer moving because there was a guy holding her wrist. She took the obvious course of action: swinging the cane in large circles all around her. The old guy ducked for cover beside the van while the lady ran across the parking lot a few times, still swinging the cane wildly.
(Now there were THREE cars side-by-side behind me. I honestly didn’t realize the parking lot was big enough to accommodate that.)
The cashiers from the corner market, the guys working the food truck parked off to the side of the building, and the valet guy from the nice restaurant across the street were all now standing in the middle of the parking lot as well, watching the spectacle. A guy who appeared to be completely oblivious to the shenanigans going on around him walked across the lot and got in the car next to me. Meanwhile, the valet guy and two of the food truck guys were attempting to wrestle the cane away from the lady. For a moment all three of them were holding on to it but still just barely managing to keep her from hitting them in the face with it. A younger woman came from somewhere and pulled the woman away from her cane. She was still issuing death threats to the two guys in the van.
The guy next to me caught a bit of this when he looked over his shoulder to back up. The three cars were also blocking him in, which appeared to concern him far more than any of the other goings-on. He looked at me and rolled down his window. He asked if I was trying to get out of the parking space and I said yes, at which point he said, “I’m from Boston. I’ll take care of this.” He got out of his car and yelled, “Hey, all you people who are waiting for parking spaces? The reason you can’t get one is that you’re blocking us all in just sitting there!”
Although I was sort of worried this might make the woman with the fedora come after us next, it actually worked. The younger woman led the old woman into the market, the cashiers went back inside, the three guys handed the cane to the old guy and went back to their respective posts, and the cars all moved out of our way.