Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mr. Jerk, Revisited at length

OK, I got too long-winded for the comment box. Again. But, it’s hard to explain why we’re not all that up in arms about this guy in fifty words or less.

I’m not saying he was right in any of his actions, but I really don’t think he meant any of the havoc. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know Captain Adventure and I were even there. We sort of popped into view after he had backed into us; before I came winging out from behind the van, we were behind two layers of privacy glass and a pair of drawn shades.

I think what he thought was, some leather-jacket clad punk is sitting in a junker van blocking his exit and paying no attention at all. He starts his truck and throws ‘er in reverse. Still, the van is not moving. The guy is just sitting there, looking away from him. (The husband was looking at me, but it probably looked like he was watching the traffic on the throughway.)

Now, most of us at this point would honk, which he did. Van doesn’t budge. He begins doing this ‘rrrooom-rrrrrooom’ backing up thing, like a kid in a sports car at a red light. Which was darned silly, considering his age – I’d call it mid-fifties-ish.

Maybe he really never intended to hit us. Maybe he was just rrrrooom-rrooming and rrroooomed a little too far. I doubt it, I think he fully intended to give us a good, hard bump…but I really don’t believe he intended to do any actual damage to the van. There wasn’t so much as a disturbed layer of mud on his truck, but he hit our van right on her weakest point, that flamin’ stupid brittle plastic.

This is the stuff I’ve been complaining about for what, two years now? The stuff that pops off all the time? The stuff that has begun cracking spontaneously all over the place?

Yeah, that.

He hits it and CRACK! Thar she blows, big old messy mess-mess. It’s obvious. You can see it from a block away. Can’t miss it. At this point, you’ve got know the guy is already getting that ‘aw, crap’ feeling in his gut.

And then !SURPRISE!

I popped out from behind the van clutching Captain Adventure in my arms yelping, “What are you doing?!” as my husband yowled out, “Hey! Why did you just RAM us?! My wife is unloading the baby!”

I think he flat-out panicked. He got hit with two crises (and two freaked out parents) at once, and his wires just shorted out. The situation changed drastically in an instant, from ‘showing some punk I mean business’ to ‘holy crap, I just hit a Family Van’. Specifically, it was the moment he saw Captain Adventure in the mix that he went all goob on us, with the screaming and carrying on.

Not the best way to handle it, certainly, but…well. If you’ve ever seen a rat caught in a glue trap…that was this guy. Hissing, snarling, defiant, and terrified right down to his wee little scrabbling claws.

If I thought he had been, you know, thinking before he acted, if he knew there were kids on board and didn’t care, or knew he was going to crack a big old hole in my van’s trim…it would be different. If the damage were more intense, or if it were my impending new minivan that had been hit, then yes. I’d already be at the body shop.

But as it is, eh. What would I buy? Nothing added to the trade in value. Hassle. Headaches. And for what? To…let him know what’s what? To give him a good slap on the wrist?

See, I don’t really think it would do anything. It wouldn’t even make me feel better about the whole thing. I don’t think it would be the defining moment, when the light goes on in his head and he says, “Oh, dearie me! What a jerk I’ve been! From this day forth, I shall go out among my fellow creatures and do good!” and then go singing off, sprinkling flower petals in his wake.

If anything, I suspect it would deepen his anger and resentment toward the world in general. Just a guess, but I think he’s one of those types who always thinks everybody else is the jerk, and he’s just the poor, wronged guy trying to do his best.

Jerks are often like that. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, too. Somebody behaves like a jerk, and what do the rest of us do? We want to give him a good hard smack-down for it. Of course we do! It’s only natural! And if we manage to get a pound of flesh out of him, we go our way thinking, “Ha! Told him what’s what! That’s right! Jerk! I hope he’s learned his lesson!”

But of course, the lesson Mr. Jerk learned was that he was right. People are mean and out to get him, they suck and he has to come out of his corner fighting, each and every day, if he’s going to get what he deserves.

It’s a wicked cycle to be stuck in. Pitiful, really. It’s hard to feel sorry for these people when they’re up in your face calling you names because you splashed coffee on their raincoat, but upon reflection…what a sad, sorry kind of life to be leading.

I really feel that if he’s the type of person able to learn lessons around these things, it started knocking on the door the moment he started to panic, realizing that he had just started something he didn’t intend to start. It’s his choice, he can consider this a ‘lucky escape, better not do that again’ or a ‘ha ha, got away with it’.

Either choice bears it own punishment or reward.

And that’s enough Gandhi-izing for one day. Just wait, you guys – something really funny happened at daycare recently. Well. Funny in a ‘oh, CRAP!’ kind of way, but still…it gets funnier the more time passes.


Anonymous said...

You all were LUCKY that you weren't hurt. What if he goes out and does it again? What if he's done it before? Maybe if you press charges or whatever you're able to do, he could lose his license if something even remotely like it happens again - at least it's some kind of safeguard for others that might not be so lucky as you. Do the police KNOW what he did? Btw, you have much more patience and control that me. I would have been in the guy's face screaming my head off!

Anonymous said...

P.S. - Do what YOU feel is best in the situation. I was just ranting...:o) I'm glad you're all okay.

Moira said...

I am sitting here trying to figure out what is WRONG with people in your neck of the woods??? WHO in thier right mind RAMS a car? I don't care if he things its some punk kid or the family van you dont use your vechical as a weapon... he really needs to be brought up on charges.

Rena said...

Whoa! You are being extremely zen about this and I'm impressed. But just reading it makes me want to hunt him down and beat him upside the head with something large! Thank God you're okay. But this guy is dangerous and needs to be reported to the cops. Really. Don't let it slide. Next time he probably will hurt someone!

I love you, sis.

Rena said...

So I read further in the blog and saw the earlier mention of this incident and that the police were called. Glad they know to keep an eye out for him. Funny, you're getting more mellow and I'm getting more impatient. I'd be all over his butt! And not in a nice way! I'm sure I can find a cow somewhere to throw at him.

NeedleTart said...

I totally agree. No one was hurt (in spite of the potential), the van was on its way out anyway, and what could piss him off more that your being "nice" about it. Not denying that it would be great to see you on the evening news explaining how sorry you feel for this total loser that rammed your van full of children in front of the Ped's office. Kill 'em with kindness, baby!