Turf Marking

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

It was pretty much inexcuseable behavior. Nevermind the many social, psychological, ethical and religious creeds I violated. It was a response that was entirely inappropriate for the situation.

I was slowing down at a traffic light when I noticed some young people trying to pull out of a driveway adjacent to the light. I had a Good Samaritan Moment and layed back to give the people room. I was slightly disappointed when I saw that these people blocked me in order to allow others, presumably as part of a caravan, out into the street. Hey, I could live with that, right? Then, the light turned green.

I went from zero to furious in two seconds flat.

I didn't realize that the windows were all down, but didn't care once I did. I let loose a torrent of blasphemous obscenity that would have been fire and brimstone if I had that sort of divine power. I saw and heard the people now two cars in front of me (where there were none before) turn and utter something but I couldn't hear it above my own screaming. It could have been apologies, or raucous laughter at my expense -- I'll never know. I'm sure I looked and sounded like the sort of person who was about to pull out an uzi and start spraying like my Dad's old lawn sprinkler. The one that would spray back and forth at 45 degree angles.

*Brrap Brrap Brrap Brrap Brrap... Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrap*

Looking back, I reveled in it. I reveled in it because I was in the right. The people in front of me were rude and inconsiderate for abusing my kindness. I was the only car on the street at that moment. They knew what they were about to do and could have waved me through if they wanted to stay together. They almost couldn't get that second car out. The car in front was trying to back up to give them room. I stayed where the f**k I was -- for a moment. Then, I pulled back. The little b@$tards probably didn't get the "Yes, for the second time I've allowed you to inconvenience me" message. A third car was thinking about getting out, but I shut that sh!+ down and pulled right in front of them.

But I re digress.

The real victim in this story was E, who had the misfortune to sit in the car next to me. Not only was she exposed to the negative energy I was generating, she had to experience my rebuff of her attempts to point out, in a logical manner, that my reaction was completely disproportionate given the actual 2 to 3 minute length of my inconvenience.

She left the car and slammed the door when my retort was "It's the principle!"

But the issue wasn't the principle. The issue was my feeling of "righteous anger." It's a side-effect of my upbringing and life experience. Of all the times I was, in fact, wrong and received more-than-stern consequences. Where people took advantage of the fact that I was wrong, not to teach me a lesson, but simply because they could. They had the mental and/or physical wherewithal to do so.

I didn't always have the mental and physical wherewithal I do now. I was always the kid who would walk into a burn (Yeah, I've got Prince Albert in a can. So?) I had no ability to retaliate in any form. But, I've grown up and I'll tell you, there's something that feels good about knowing that you now have the power to decide that you choose just how much crap you're willing to take. Almost makes you feel like God knowing you can decide to forgive someone or try to take your pound of flesh, with no more consideration than which side of the bed you happened to get up from that morning. No consideration of the mistakes I once made. No consideration of the fact that maybe there was a need for them to make a slight imposition on my time. Just the focus on my abused kindness, my lost time, and my righteous anger.

I need to accept that part of me that says "Screw 'em." I need to accept the part that only regrets one thing about the incident, namely that it upset E. And, then I need to bury them because thoughts like those and things like compassion and mercy can't exist side by side. I was in the right to have A reaction. I was wrong to overreact. I could leave it at that, but there's something more. The response of the type of person that I really want to be would be to set aside my right to be right and allow the 1.5 seconds of inconvenience. I might've felt better about making the lives of at least three carloads of people easier than I felt (and, it felt good at the moment) about spewing bile.

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