Connecting with Stefanie Freele’s “People Who Sit in the Car While Someone Else Runs In”

by Sydney Griffin  ·  April 08, 2018

When I read the title of the this flash fiction piece, I knew it was one that would resonate with me. Social anxiety is something that plagues far more people than we think, but we don’t see it well represented in our society. This story immediately captivated me due its imagery and honesty. In Stefanie Freele’s “People Who Sit in the Car While Someone Else Runs In” first published in Five Points Volume 17, number 3, we see an experience from a different perspective: the quiet one.  It’s interesting how the author describes the one who runs in the store as a hero, and the one who waits is “on crutches”.  I think this comparison to crutches is a good comparison because it is something that inhibits you: something that requires extra work. Something that should come naturally becomes exceedingly more difficult. The story, while quite brief, does an excellent job at giving an insight as to what situations are like when you have anxiety. I was drawn to this story because there are times when I want to wait in the car, or if I absolutely have to go inside, I steer towards self-checkout. Other times I can run in, grab what I need, and onto the next place without feeling frozen.

One of my favorite lines of the story, “The savior, having  bought the diapers, painkiller, chicken, returns, sorry it took so long, firmly confident their adventure in the store was far more adventurous” addresses a perspective often unseen. The one waiting, while passive in stature, witnessed many different scenarios play out in front of them in the few minutes they were in the car. In films and television, we usually see an action perspective. They are participating in life, but maybe not as active as society would like them to be. Life is happening inside and outside the store, and both perspectives are important for understanding how people function in the world. Social anxiety is difficult to live with, especially in a world where connections are important for jobs, recommendations for school, and cultivating meaningful relationships. However, we take life one day at a time, in hopes that one day we will be the hero who runs into the store, and when we are that person, we feel euphoric.


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