Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vacant Lot


It was one of those moments when you just don't think. You react. For me, it's complicated by the teacher in me. We write and talk about social justice all the time but when it comes to actually doing something there is often no time to think.
I have a distant relative in my family that often spouts some racist notion. Everybody hears but nobody reacts. If it happens again, I've thought about what to say in such a way as to make a point without losing my cool. We'll see. I tend to go off around ignorance. That's when the teacher in me saves myself. I flip into the default personality that tries to make such an awkward situation a teachable moment knowing full well that my own demeanor and emotional state will make a huge difference. Out in the real world of grocery store parking lots, there if hardly enough time. So it was yesterday when a loud car horn blast shook me from my Saturday morning serenity and I noticed one of those Seinfeld moments. Some guy and his girlfriend were frustrated by a stopped car in front of them and blasted a warning before abruptly pulling out and around the source of their frustration. Trouble is, that stopped car was serenely waiting for a parking place which the impatient driver then took for his own. That flagrant behavior really pisses me off. Anybody can make that mistake and not be aware of their surroundings. People pushing baby strollers emerge from parked cars and into crosswalks in front of me all the time. It's one of those damned if you do /don't moments. The meaning of life, don't you know. But that's not the point. The point is I said something. "Hey, didn't you see that guy was waiting for that parking place?"
It's really a bullying situation, isn't it? We've all been on that end of things whether we intended to or not. As expected, Katie, my wife, asked me to keep quiet. I can't. Some semi-id like characteristic emerges in me and I want to push back. I'm prepared for any consequences. I know people carry guns, the engage in road rage crimes all the time. Often I do refrain, letting my sense of common sense take over. But sometimes...most times...I just react. And I proud of it. I'd like to think that the guy driving that car yesterday took a moment and in his head said something like, I really did fuck up, I didn't mean to not notice what was really going on. The smile that emerged on my lips was one of nervous face-saving because my girlfriend was with me. And anyway, some people are just too slow. It's no big deal. But next time I'll see if there is a reason someone in front of me seems like they are just sitting in the middle of a crowded parking lot.

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