Sunday, August 26, 2007
Such An Asshole

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm becoming a less kind person.

A couple of weeks ago, I guess, I stopped by a busy gas station up in town to get an emergency bottle of Coke Zero, which I've been guzzling by the gallon lately (no lectures, please, it makes me happy.) There was a single empty parking space on the entire lot, so I drove over to it and started to pull in when I saw that a fairly large woman's bottom was blocking the way. She was bent head-first into the sliding door of a gold SUV that was already parked on the very edge of the white line, and her posterior and inferred personal space were encroaching on about 20% of the free spot. I sat for a minute assuming she would quickly wrap up whatever she was doing and extract herself, but she just stayed and stayed, oblivious to my presence. Honking the horn at her would have been overkill, and it seemed too soon to roll down the window and shout to her to please move. No other cars seemed about to leave, and I wasn't about to go to another gas station just because this woman's butt was in my way.

Luckily, one of her numerous offspring noticed my presence and alerted his mother. She, then, removed herself from her van, closed the sliding door, and then backed up against her car and gestured for me to pull in. But she was still seriously overlapping the space... what, am I supposed to risk running over you just because you can't be bothered to step up to the curb? I looked at her skeptically, and probably with visible annoyance. She gestured again to pull in. "Fuck it," I thought, "I'm done being patient about this." So I pulled in, and probably missed grazing her knees by no more than two inches. I got out, squeezing past the car on the other side (since I'd had to pull in right on top of the other line to accommodate her presence in the space), and headed for the door. I didn't even look at her.

From behind me I hear, "sorry!" I kept walking, no acknowledgment. Just as I get to the door I hear again, "I said I'm sorry!" I stopped, I looked at her long enough to make eye contact, and then I went inside.

Official protocol at that point would have been to turn and smile and say, "that's okay, don't worry about it!" That, I suppose, would have been the kind thing to do. It wasn't that I was angry at her, or even annoyed. And obviously it wasn't that I didn't hear her. I just didn't give a shit that she was sorry. Her sorriness or lack thereof made no difference to me whatsoever -- I just wanted to do what I'd come to do, and I didn't care to have any further dealings with Mrs. Oblivious. Ignoring her wasn't about retribution, it was just my way of scraping her out of my consciousness.

But even a couple of years ago I would've been more likely to give in and grant her the pardon she was asking for. Something has definitely shifted in me -- on the one hand, I'm becoming much more open with strangers; I nod and smile and say hello more often than I ever did before. On the other hand, my tolerance for other people's pointless bullshit (as I define it, obviously) is dropping fast and hard. The thing I struggle with is figuring out what it all means. I try hard to avoid being one of those people who goes around constantly referring to the rest of humanity as "stupid fucking morons" -- we are all someone's stupid fucking moron now and then, and that's true of me as much as anyone. People making mistakes doesn't bother me. But the blatant, gross lack of awareness that some people possess -- the apparent complete inability to recognize that there are other sentient beings in the world -- fills me with righteous rage.

I don't go out of my way to attack those people, or punish them, or even point out their offenses. Sometimes I think I should point it out to them -- that by ignoring it, I'm in some tiny way complicit, that one of our problems as a society is that we no longer let each other know when we're being assholes. I'm too conflict-averse to actually risk it, though I often feel the urge. But hell if I'm going to let them off the hook for it.

But somehow, afterwards, it bothered me -- it still bothers me weeks later, obviously, since I'm writing a blog post about it. And that makes me angrier, that now I feel guilty for not accepting her empty apology. I think that was probably her objective. And if there's one thing that really pisses me off, it's manipulation.

So who was the asshole: her, or me? Come on, you can be honest with me.
6:25 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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