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Family Time: Spreading the Cheer

by Robin Rieger

Call me old fashioned but my favorite Christmas carol is Andy Williams’ rendition of It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. You know the classic song … “with the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you ... Be of good cheer!” … Maybe some malls could pipe that music loudly into their parking lots to remind shoppers to be nice to each other as they try to park and purchase gifts this holiday season.

A Saturday night mid-November (with still about 39 shopping days left), I’m taking my son, daughter and mom to the Cherry Hill Mall. It’s packed. Up and down a few aisles we go looking for a parking spot and finally, as I turn left ... YES! ... a mom and daughter are heading to their car up ahead on my right. I put on my blinker. Perfect! Except, as I wait patiently for their car to back out of the spot, a very impatient woman behind me starts beeping and keeps beeeeeeeeping. I can’t really move up, but she has plenty of room to go around so I put my window down and with my whole hand wave her past us.

Yes, you know what’s coming next. Before the mother and daughter can leave the spot I’ve waited about 30 seconds for, the angry beeper pulls alongside me and snarls loudly “You Bleeping bleep bleep!!!”

Now remember, my window is down so my kids, 10 and 7 years old, in the back seat clearly heard what she said and saw her angry face deliver the shot across the bow. My motherly instincts stifled the Jersey Girl in me who wanted to fire off a response, but didn’t want to further scare my kids. The kids worried about her confronting us in the parking lot as we walked into the store. Imagine that! We weren’t there to see Santa, but if I had gotten the woman’s license plate number, I’d have asked him to add her to the naughty list.

According to Andy Williams, “It’s the hap-happiest season of alllllllllllll.” Clearly, Angry Female Driver never heard the tune.

What is it about the holidays that makes some people impatient and downright mean? Seriously, over a parking space? Hustle and bustle I get, there’s a lot to do, but cursing out another driver for no reason, in front of children? You’re a mean one, Mrs. Grinch, and so early in what is for most people a season of joy and giving.

My husband Tom often says if every day we were all as nice as people opening the door for each other at Wawa, we’d all get along great. The biggest standoff at our Wawa is at the door and it politely goes like this: “Go ahead, I got it.” “No, no, no, you go, I got it.” “No, no, come on, I’ll wait.” No beeping or bleeping!

How many times are you coming out with coffee and someone is holding the door for you or there’s an opportunity for you to do the same and you take it? People say thank you, even smile. It feels good. This is in the morning, year round. People are hustling and bustling to work. Maybe the coffee’s already perked them up or the thought of getting a cup is working its magic. Tom says the doors force you to be kind. Shouldn’t a mall parking lot necessitate the same courtesy, especially heading into the holidays?

The Christmas spirit IS alive!

I must say the reason we went to the mall the night of the parking lot flap was to speak to a Macy’s manager about a gift purchased for Christmas last year that ended up recently being defective. Though we could not find the receipt, a department manager knew the item was from their store and very kindly offered a replacement. Now, she could have been in the holiday spirit, but I’m guessing she’s that nice all the time.

Either way, she was the perfect antidote to the Angry Female Driver who could probably benefit from a trip to Wawa before the mall next time. If we happen to cross paths there, I will hold the door and buy her a cup of coffee. I might even play her my favorite tune ...

“It’s the most wonderful time, it’s the most wonderful time, it’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrrrrr!”

Robin Rieger is a former anchor and reporter with CBS 3. A lifelong South Jersey resident, she lives with her husband, Philadelphia 76ers Radio play-by-play broadcaster Tom McGinnis, and their two children in Burlington County.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 9 (December, 2013).
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