ApologiesShe turned into the parking lot and appeared to want to turn down the lane where I was walking toward the restaurant. I stopped to let her turn and she stopped as well. I finally realized from the angle of her car that she wasn't turning into the lane, but wanted the first parking space in the lane and was waiting for me to walk across it so she could park. I gestured her into the space, which she took, and started walking again. As she pulled in she shouted something derogatory at me. I'm not certain why I turned back; I usually avoid confrontation especially with angry people, but I did and said "I'm sorry, I didn't realize you wanted the space." She didn't appear to hear me. She kept telling me that I had ruined her day, her special day with her daughter. She showed no sign that she even heard me say "I'm sorry." I once again tried to apologize. To no avail; she took her daughter's hand and bustled her off into the restaurant. That was this morning. I've been thinking about it ever since. It's like a sore tooth that you keep probing with your tongue. Some of this is my own issues, I know. I worry too much about what other people think of me, and on that basis I think I can let this one go, because I was nice even when she was shouting at me, said "I'm sorry" several times, and truly hope that her day got better after that. I'm not certain I did anything wrong, after all, I was the pedestrian and she was the one in the car. I've even gone on to have a good day. But I thought about the incident enough to start generalizing. After all, the studies say that people listen more to arguments that agree with their position and tend to turn off any information that disagrees. While I think that the balkanization of information courtesy of technology is a good thing (it means, for instance, that I can have a radio station for my sub genre of classical music while you can have one for your sub genre of talk radio), it also means that increasingly we are not talking to each other. That is something to deplore. She was probably already angry before she started shouting at me and my 'offense' was just the one that set her off, but there was no way to reach her. She wanted to be angry, apparently. Generalizing from that gets depressing very quickly. I know that there are groups and countries that want to be angry, that are looking for excuses to misunderstand or even not hear any overtures made their direction. Plenty of groups do not want to hear anything that conflicts with their version of reality. Before you start pointing fingers at everyone else; I've been guilty of that too, and, as much as I try to avoid it, find myself doing it still. So what's a poor mortal to do? I couldn't fix the woman, even though I tried, In that instance I couldn't put even a small measure of civility back into the world. The religious among us may have the best solution. I truly hope that something made her day better. In the meantime, I'll pray for her. And I'll pray for the world.
2 Sep 2009
Copyright © 2009 Truck Smith