In early April the news and YouTube were filled with the story of a young man and his paraplegic sister at Camp Pendleton who after a minor fender-bender were startled to see a man standing next to their car screaming at them. Moments before,
the man had cut them off, and then three times suddenly thrown on his brakes.
The sister had the presence of mind to record the incident with her phone. As a result, the morning shows were soon filled with the video of this man kicking their truck and cursing at them while they sat, windows rolled up.
I can definitely empathize.
Only a week later, at one weekday morning, I sat in line at the Dunkin Doughnuts drive-through. I was there for a muffin, only a muffin, that I hoped would carry me through what would probably be a long and boring morning.
I had pulled in, following the car in front of me to the drive-through lane, leaving the one to the right open for the exit of people who'd had the time or energy to park and actually go inside.
There in our line we all moved forward one car length and got that much closer to the final goal. A prolonged sound suddenly filled the air. I thought at first that someone's car alarm must have gone off, but then this didn't sound like a car alarm. I looked around for the source and still had no idea. Then I looked in my rear-view mirror. The man in back of me was honking, long drawn-out honks, and gesturing as though he wanted me to move. But why would I move? I thought maybe he wanted to get into the employee parking lot to my left, but then he could have pulled in easily and by the way, this wasn't exactly an example of good customer relations.
Unsure what he wanted, I pulled forward a bit more. Suddenly he was outside my driver's window, which I rolled down. (Inherent optimism will be my undoing someday. Why did I assume that here was a reasonable person, intending me no harm?)
He - exactly like the person in the news - was clearly out of control and was screaming at me. He looked to be in his early thirties, if that old. I found myself regretting my Preference Golden Blonde - perhaps a headfull of gray would have given him pause.
Didn't I know he had been in line?
No, I replied.
Didn't I see the sign indicating that there was an area to wait to get in this line?
No, I replied.
Couldn't I read?
As an English teacher who was on her way to spend the entire day reading essays for the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure, I decided this didn't need to be dignified with an answer.
I put my car in reverse, hoping to back up to get out of line.
Oh, great, now you're going to hit my car!
I asked him to please move his car.
He refused, snarling, No, go get your coffee!
Being a tea drinker, I decided it was pointless to respond.
I also decided that I didn't drive an SUV for nothing and would get out of that line even if it meant driving over the asphalt median strip that bordered the area. I turned the wheel and exited, shaking and without my muffin.
When I looked back I saw that the line still hadn't moved forward at all.