Have you ever had a series of consecutive days where it seems like everyone is out with the specific mission of annoying you? When every day you have at least one highly-irritating experience with another human being?
That was me last week; it was just so NOT my week. Sunday morning, for example, I set out for an early-morning grocery run (ambitious, I know – this has to have been a first for me!). So it’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday, and I pull up to a four-way stop in suburbia. There’s one other person who pulls up to the stop sign after me – she is waiting to cross directly across my path. She is straddling lanes with her vehicle, doesn’t fully stop and then just continues through the intersection. Seriously, lady?? I honk my horn and throw up my arms, giving her my best “WTH??!?” expression through the windshield. She appears clueless.
The next day, I head out for a run. When I’m nearly back home – close to my kids’ school, I might add – I’m running on the sidewalk of a residential street when a driver nearly takes me out while reversing on his driveway. Wow, dude! You *might* want to slow down when reversing your car across from an elementary school. Just a thought! And, oh yeah – there’s this cool driving technique called a SHOULDER CHECK which is really helpful in ensuring that you don’t run over people! Check it out sometime.
The straw that broke this camel’s back, however, was an incident that happened when I was at the doctor’s office. Now, I should preface this by mentioning that my doctor is located in a rather trendy (read: hoity-toity) area of Ottawa; a part of town that I lived in for many years as a renter – then moved away from because I’m not a millionaire who can afford a heritage home near the Ottawa Canal. And people who live in this area seem to think that they are better than the rest of the world. (Because your worth as a human being is determined solely by your postal code, right??!?)
So I drive out to my doctor’s office, and I’ve timed it just right – my appointment is in a few minutes. There is paid parking underneath the building (it used to be free), but being a cheap Mennonite, I decide to save a few bucks by parking on the residential street outside the office. Famous last words…
I seek out a spot in front of a large, brick-fronted home. An older woman – presumably the owner of the house – is out front, sitting on a stool weeding the garden with a big sunhat on. She looks up at me as I park my car, then turns back to her yardwork, saying nothing. Pleased with my efficient parking and my close proximity to the doctor’s office, I proceed to walk briskly to my appointment.
Less than an hour later, I return to my car. Great appointment – got right in, saw my doc – she’s a wonderful doctor. As I’m unlocking the car, I notice a tiny piece of paper under my windshield. Yes, you guessed it…it’s a parking ticket. Apparently, you could park anywhere else on the street *except* for the spot I chose. The woman is still working in her garden and is watching me as I take the ticket. Still, she says nothing – but I get the distinct sense she knows exactly what just happened.
I get into the car and roll down the passenger window. I call out loudly to her, “Hey – thanks so much for letting me know that I wasn’t able to park here!” The old hag snaps back, “You’ve got eyes, USE ‘EM!” Stunned, I manage to maintain my composure. But I can’t resist a parting comment – delivered dripping in sarcasm, “You’re a LOVELY woman – I hope you have a wonderful day!!”
I may have gotten the last word, but the encounter leaves me feeling awful. Seriously – what’s wrong with people?? This woman was sitting right there and she watched me park – knowing full well I could get a ticket – and said nothing?? What is she – the devil?? After relaying the incident to friends, it is suggested that the old hag likely CALLED the bylaw officer to ensure I was ticketed.
My feelings turn to rage. I start to fantasize about pelting this horrible woman’s house with eggs, and maybe some fresh turds from my cat’s little box. I settle for a much-needed nap instead; my husband has just returned from over two weeks’ work travel and admittedly, I’m a bit tense. But STILL.
The next day, I’m reflecting on the situation with the old hag. Then for some reason, a very specific scene from The Simpsons suddenly pops into my head; Bart’s mom sets him up on a playdate with Ralph Wiggum, the town moron.
Ralph comes to Bart’s door with a Chinese finger trap, and Bart is inadvertently tricked into attaching himself to Ralph for the afternoon. As Bart desperately struggles to free himself, Ralph says, “Fighting only makes it tighter!”
All at once, I have a realization: we all must lock horns with idiots and morons from time to time. It simply can’t be avoided. At some point, each of us will encouter an idiot boss, a horrible driver or someone who – like my hag – is just plain mean-spirited. But taking revenge isn’t going to solve it – we just have to move through it and let it go. After all, to respond with equivalent idiocy and classlessness means you run the risk of becoming the idiot yourself.
So like Bart Simpson – who wasted his precious afternoon with the simple-minded Ralph – I decided to keep my eggs for my next omelette craving and stick it out. After all, with my luck – the eggs and cat feces would only serve to fertilize and invigorate her wretched flower garden.