Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life's Little Lessons

You never know when you'll come across a teaching opportunity with your kids. Sometimes, it's when a stranger is yelling obscenities at you in the grocery store parking lot.

I went to the grocery store during peak traffic the other day. There was a decent open space, but it was on the other side of the 2-way aisle. I knew that rush hour shopping was not the time for a 3-point turn to make the space. I drove around so I could come at it from the right side. (Keeping my fingers crossed that it'd be there when I got back around, of course.)

As I'm turning the wheel to pull into the space, a lady coming from the opposite direction punches the gas. At this point, my front right tire is crossing the edge of the white line, yet she turns on her blinker to claim the space. Huh?! I finish pulling into the space.

She waits behind my car for me to step out, with her window rolled down. I got out, to be immediately hailed with a "You took my space. I had on my blinker. Are you blind?"

Wow. My reply "It's on my side. I pulled around to take this spot without tying up the aisle. You came in after me."

Her reply, a little louder this time, "It's 2-way. You have no right to that space."

"You know, I didn't do anything wrong by taking this space."

"You stole my space." A little louder this time.

"No, I didn't. Look, it's obviously way more important to you than me, though,and I'm feeling pretty good today. Tell you what, I'll move, you can have the space." (Wow. I wish I could make that more eloquent, but that's what I said.)

As I turn to climb back in my car and move, she screams out "you're an asshole!"
To make things even stranger, she drove off when I put my truck in reverse. Somebody else took the space, and I moved to the space that had opened 3-4 spaces further down the aisle.

Yes, that's right. At this point, spaces had opened on both sides.

All in all, a strange incident. I can only assume this nicely dressed woman (late 40's-early 50's) in her shiny sedan was having a bad day, and felt the situation called for an avenging angel, ala Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes. That I wasn't an obnoxious teenager trying to be rude didn't fit her scenario, so was skipped over in her fury.

Where's the teaching opportunity? I'm getting to that.

"Mom? Why'd that lady call you that?"

"I'm guessing she's having a bad day, Ben. She thought she ought to get that parking space, so I was going to give it to her."

"But, if you gave her the space, why'd she yell at you?"

"Because the space wasn't what she wanted anymore, honey. She just wanted somebody to yell at."

We headed into the store. In the produce section, near the apples, "Hey mom! There's that lady that called you an asshole!"

"Ben, I told you not to repeat that word." I said as I turned around, to face the extremely embarrassed woman walk off in a huff. She had no idea there had been an audience, apparently.

"I love you, Ben."

We had a short talk during the rest of our shopping about why lashing out in a temper is not a good idea. It does come back to you in some way, just like that cranky woman, who was avoiding aisles when she saw us.

It was also a chance to talk about letting things go, instead of getting angry. The person who lashes out changes their whole day by doing so. By shrugging my shoulders and going on with my day, we were focusing on brownie mix-ins, instead of angry words.

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