Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
August 7, 2009
Old ladies moving in bullet time
Category: Travels

Today, at Dollar Tree, I encountered the slowest old ladies ever.

I mean, I've come across some slow old people before, but damn. It was like they were moving in fucking bullet time.

Watching these women, I actually had time to wonder how they deal with it. Like, does their mental activity slow down as well -- such that they have no idea how bloody long they're taking to move just a few steps forward -- or are they fully conscious and cognizant of the fact that slugs would be outstripping them with their slimy trails? If the latter, I'm not sure how they do it! Moving that goddamned slowly and knowing it would piss me off.

On the other hand, maybe the completion of every step would be like a huge accomplishment, such that I'd want to take a moment (or eighteen million) to dance a little jig.

A diagram of the slowness!

Anyway, here's a diagram of the one time I got stuck behind one of the old ladies. As labeled, the blue dot is me, the yellow dot is a middle-aged lady who was also waiting to pass, and the grey dot is the old lady. The old lady's dot is larger not because she was (extremely) fat, but because her huge cart and insistence on remaining dead center in the aisle effectively prevented anyone from slipping past her. The green areas are shelves -- and thus represent obstacles -- and the "H" represents the traversable areas. The colored arrows indicate the intended travel paths and are matched to the corresponding players.

The space that it took that old woman 90 seconds -- and possibly longer -- to cross is roughly the length of a meter. It was amazing. Like, I could literally have gone back the other way, around the other side of the obstruction, and traveled back up the other aisle (passing the yellow dot lady) in less time than it would have taken that old lady to move six inches. The problem, however, was that that might have seemed rude -- and whereas I'd have no problem doing it any other time, I didn't want to make the lady feel bad. After all, unless our temporal perceptions weren't in synch (in which case she might only have glimpsed a red-black blur shooting up the opposite aisle), she would definitely have seen me.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. And looked over at the yellow dot lady, who gave me one of those "it happens, don't worry, we'll get there eventually" smiles. And waited for another minute. And looked back at the lady, who smiled again but was clearly starting to fidget. And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

It might actually have been longer than two minutes.

And when that old woman was finally out of the way, I moved to the side to let the yellow dot lady slip past -- hence our smaller dots; for some reason we could both occupy the same aisle space but hell if that old lady could -- and then took off along my intended path like a launched pinball after someone's pulled the plunger allllll the way back and waited for the ball to settle before releasing it.

Holy crap that lady moved slowly.

I think if it had been me, I would have said something. A joke would have been nice, since it might have helped to dispel any annoyance on our parts while acknowledging that we were there waiting and that she was making clouds on a lazy day look like warp-speed space cruisers. "Don't worry, y'all, I'll get there -- heh heh. They say life is short, but damned if it feels that way when you're movin' like this!" But alas, this old woman preferred to make her epic journey in silence.

I saw another old woman moving just as slowly, but I was lucky enough to encounter her on a wider aisle.

-posted by Wes | 7:32 pm | Comments (5)
  • Mickelodeon says:

    Bullet time. I'm going to remember that phrase - wait until you encounter one of the Bullet Girls on the effin' road. =)

    • Wes says:

      Alas, I cannot take credit for the phrase -- I'm not sure whether it was explicitly called that in the movies, but it originally referred to the slowed-down action in The Matrix films where the bullets would ripple past the guys as they dodged in slow motion.

      Incidentally, slow people haven't bothered me too much on the roads yet! I imagine I've bothered some other folks (there's a road around here where the speed limit is 35, yet people frequently drive in excess of 50 on it), though.

  • Ro says:

    You need to make a board game. You could call it "Bullet Time." I also really like that phrase. 🙂

    Anyhow, I was thinking it's possible that she could been having a stroke or a series of strokes maybe even severe dementia?

    I commend you on your patience. 🙂

    • Wes says:

      Ooh, I've got an idea how such a game would go, too! I should sketch it out -- that could be really fun.

      I suppose it's possible that the woman had suffered a stroke (or strokes) or was in the grip of severe dementia, but I really think she was just insanely slow. If I ever get like that, I'm getting one of those Professor Xavier chairs. 🙂

  • Becky says:

    I don't know if i woudl've had the patience to not say "excuse me" to get by. I wonder about their slowness as well and have thought that maybe their muscles and joints are so stiff that they can't move faster. IT seems like the more active seniors are, the easier they can move around.

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