“Hey, Toots!”

I stopped by a new frame shop in town on my way to a wedding. My old frame shop had closed and I was thrilled to create a relationship with a wonderful new business who now does my framing and mounting. Okay, they aren’t new, but they are new to me. I was enroute to a wedding, and stopped off to pick up a print of the engagement session that the couple wanted displayed at the reception. It’s kind of a funky little shopping center, with a McDonalds on the left as you pull in, a grocery store straight ahead and a small strip mall on your right. The frame shop is in the strip mall.

I pull in cautiously, as, again, I’m still a wee bit unfamiliar with the lay of the shopping center. The shopping center isn’t busy in the least. I pull into a parking space in front of the frame shop and exit my car.

I take maybe two steps toward the door, when I hear a male’s voice behind me yelling, “HEY, TOOTS!”

Toots? TOOTS? I immediately assume this is someone I know, a friend or client, being goofy. I turn around and find an older dude, with extremely tanned skin and white hair, sitting behind the wheel of an equally white sports car. He had rolled down his window and brought his car to a complete stop, holding up 2-3 cars behind him. I don’t know this guy in the least, but at this point, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on the “toots.”

Still analyzing the situation, I ask, “Yes? Can I help you?”

He leans out his window and says, “There’s a stop sign over there that you just went through.”

I glance back toward the entrance to the shopping center. Sure enough, there, slightly camouflaged by some tall bushes is, indeed, a stop sign. WHY that stop sign is THERE, I have no idea, but it is. It makes no sense, as it would impede traffic coming into the shopping center but I’m sure some planner somewhere did some sort of traffic flow study and determined that it needed to be there.

Now, before I go any further, you need to know a couple things about me:

1. I drive a Jeep Wrangler with standard transmission.
2. I don’t drive fast. <Refer to #1>
3. I have had two tickets in my entire life: one for going 32 in a 25 when I was in high school, and the last was 23 years ago, TWENTY THREE, PEOPLE, for going 8 miles over the speed limit, 48 in a 40.
4. People get irritated with me for driving too slow. Again, refer to point #1.
5. I obey all traffic laws.
6. Nobody ever passes me on the right; I know which lane is which.
7. I come to a full and complete stop when necessary.
8. I always make it a point to stop far enough behind the car in front of me to see the wheels of said car, thus keeping a good distance between us should I get rear ended.

I am an extremely conscientious driver and aware of what’s going on around me. I happily allow others to sneak into my lane if they need to. My motto on the road is “Everyone chill out. We’re all gonna get there.”

But, he was right, there WAS a stop sign I didn’t see. I thought it a little weird to track me down to tell me this, but okay. After all, there weren’t any cars as I pulled into the shopping center that would have been affected by my action.

“Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize that! I’m so sorry!” I say. And I truly mean it.

And then he shakes his head and says, “You know, that stop sign applies to YOU, too.” And he points his finger at me, much as one would do to a small child.

This is not the guy, but you get the idea. Even this stock photo is bothering me.

What the hell?

At this point, the gears in my brain are turning fast. Why would he think that I would think it DOESN’T apply to me. I wasn’t speeding. I wasn’t pulling a “Fast and Furious” move. Good God, I was going like, 2 miles an hour in this shopping center.

And then I put the “Hey, Toots” in there. He could have said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” but no, it was a “Hey, Toots!” And then I realized…it’s because I’m a female driver. He needed to track down a woman in the shopping center not to inform her of the stop sign, but to tell her that she needs to be a better driver, according to the Law of the White Haired Tan Man.

Oh yeah, this is NOT happening.

I walk to the end of my Jeep where Mr. Mansplainer is STILL sitting holding up traffic. I tell him, “You know, it’s kind of weird that you went out of your way to do it, but I appreciate you informing me of the stop sign. What I DON’T appreciate, is you calling me “Toots.”

I then put my hands on my hips, whip off my sunglasses, look him in the eye and with a raised eyebrow say, “GRANDPA.”

I stayed that way until he drove off, which was right away.

It was but a little victory, but I’ll take it.


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