Today, as I made a deposit at the BofA drivethru ATM, a car pulled in behind me and the driver said, immediately, loudly, COME ON.
Hm, I thought, depositing my checks. How rude!
The man continued to express himself.
OH MY GOD. YOU’RE TOO SLOW.
This is the thing about me—I too often see red when provoked by a stranger’s rudeness. Red makes me act hastily vs. breathe and remember crucial situation-bits, such as: he could have a gun, he could get out of his car and strangle me, I could endanger my son’s life by responding to his rudeness. Lately I’ve been so good about not responding to rudeness that I can’t even recall any rude encounters since—well, since the last bout. If anyone has been rude, I’ve been oblivious to it. Life has been one joyous set of outings! I’m pretty sure, anyway.
OH MY GOD. HURRY UP.
When seeing red, I forget that whatever a rude stranger’s problem is, it isn’t mine, therefore, I: don’t need to react.
COME ON, LADY. JESUS.
When seeing red, my usual eye color of blue-tinged-with-a-stricken-gray is completely obscured. Red conceals the very whites of my eyes. I look like Medusa on a Red Bull binge (like she needs an energy drink). I look totally, mirror-image-y, Norma Desmond (spitting fire).
YOU’RE TAKING TOO LONG. OH MY GOD.
As I was saying, lately I’ve been working on letting things go, on forgiveness and compassion. I feel better when I forgive and move on—I feel freer—lighter—I like myself more—and besides, I’m busy! I don’t have room in my heart for a bunch of old hurt feelings, guilt or resentment. I have a family! How lucky, how marvelous, how—
HURRY UP, LADY. YOU’RE TAKING TOO LONG. CAN’T YOU HEAR ME?
SHUT THE F*** UP YOU F***ING F***ED UP F***ING DING-DONG CLEARLY F***ED IN THE HEAD F***ING CRETIN AND A**HOLE! YOU F***ING F***-ALL SUCK!
I didn’t say this out loud. I promise. But I did pull ever-so-slowly away from the ATM, sending the man into a heightened verbal rage. My hands shook on the wheel. My breath came fast. My heart felt like a million fingers were drumming on it. When I finally drove out of the bank’s lot, saying cheerful things to T in his carseat, what I felt was a depth-plumbing dismay.
I had let some stranger and his rudeness affect me. As my grandmother used to say, Oh for crying in the beer, PB!
On the other hand, even as I antagonized that man, I was conscious of what I was doing, conscious that I wasn’t proud of myself, and I heard, though did not heed, a special voice clearly advising me to move on, move on. Voice from my heart. Yeah. I heard it.
When I pulled into the parking lot of Trader Joe’s, T babbling happily about clown fish, my breathing was steadier, my brain was back in “calm”. During the brief drive from BofA to the store, I’d vowed to try harder to non-react to rudeness. Because this vow came so swiftly on the heels of the Rudeness Event, vs. a week, or months later, I decided that I was a step closer to personal progress, to being able to let it go sooner than ever before in my life. Perhaps the next time I am confronted with a stranger’s rudeness I will be able to fully non-react without even a hint of red clouding my eyes. Hm…
Sometimes, I am sooooooooo nice to myself.