I got yelled at by three people I’m not related to by marriage or blood last week. I must be doing something right. Well, one was a honked horn, and one was a snide whisper, but still, a good week.
I started off the week at Eurofoods, my favorite little deli. It must have been seniors’ day, at least six pairs of old folks wandering around. I was the young kid in the room. I walked down the counter to the number-spitter and got a ticket. Then I tried to get down to the far end of the counter. Just past the bingo machine, the counter dips in about eight feet. This leaves space on the floor for a refrigerated bunk, but the room between them is restricted.
Ahead of me was some old lady bossing a clerk around. As so often happens, her cart wasn’t ahead or behind her, adjacent to the counter, it was just south of her outstretched butt. Halfway between the cart and the bunk drifted her husband. I looked at the open spaces in front and behind him, and decided that I would pass his ass. I headed for the bunk….and he backed up and leaned on it. I pulled the cart back, aimed it between him and his wife….and she called him, and he stepped right back in front of me. I turned the cart towards his butt again, and looked him in the eye. He turned sideways, and took hold of her cart. Finally, I pushed my cart past, and as I passed him, sotto voce, I got, “Some cart driver.” Yeah well, if you got out of the way, and stayed there, you could see me really spin.
A day later, because of my destination, I went the long way around, and left the subdivision by the back street. As I got to the intersection with the main road, there was a van, already pulled across the line, at a 45 degree angle. I pulled up behind him and took a quick look up the street. Nothing coming, so I pulled out and turned right, behind the van. As I started my turn, I noticed a car on the far side of the intersection start to move forward also. As he pulled in behind me, I got BEEEP! Apparently I was supposed to treat the corner as a four-way stop, where alternate vehicles move in sequence. Damn! How dare I have the right of way? I figure, if you have the time and the presence of mind to honk a horn, it wasn’t an emergency, just petulant bad manners. Then we got to the lights, where he still had to wait for a green anyway.
Finally, on Thursday, I got the best of the bunch. If this guy hadn’t been so irritatingly dumb, it might have been amusing. I left the subdivision the short way, out onto the big road that runs behind my house. When I got to the T-intersection, I had to wait for two cars coming down the hill, one in the curb lane and one out in the center. After I pulled out, I pulled over behind the guy in the outer lane. There were quite a number of cars in the curb lane. Some of them will want to turn down the side-road to get in the side entrance to the plaza. Others will want to go through the lights, but still slow down to go in the front entrance.
I want to go straight through, so I stayed in the go-through lane. When we stopped behind the crowd at the light, he left a whole car length in front of him. At this point I wasn’t even trying to be an asshole. I left two feet between us; I’ve left a lot less. He crept forward five feet. I crept forward five feet, and stopped two feet from his bumper. Suddenly he lurched forward. I thought he might hit the guy in front, but after another five feet, he slammed the brakes on again. I drifted forward five feet, and stopped two feet behind him.
Suddenly the driver’s door opened, and he climbed out. Two things ran through my mind. First, he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Second, where in Hell is the windshield scraper/brush? I may need it to teach him to stay in his car. He faced me and made shooing motions. It’s unsafe and illegal to back up, so he must mean not to get so close. I stuck my left arm out and shooed him back into his car, and through the soon-to-be-green light.
That did not sit well. Now he’s coming back to my car, and I’m really looking for that nylon scraper-stick. He stops a couple of feet from my window and starts bitching. Leapers, creepers, I’m being yelled at by some oriental dude who can’t drive. (Is there any other kind?) “Why you stop so close? Why you stop so close??” I picked the wrong side of the argument. I asked, ”Why are you stopped back here?” “The light is red.” “I know, but why are you stopped back here?” I actually thought I might get a long sought answer.
This is where I thought it really got silly. He looked at me and said, “I’m your neighbor. Why you do this to me? I’m you neighbor. Don’t you recognize me?” Hmm, you came down the hill in front of me. Did you go four blocks out of your way to get here? Do I recognize you? Let’s see. Twenty-five feet in front of me, through my windshield, through your back window, with your back to me, and a car seat-back and headrest between us?! Oh yeah, you’re the guy who has lived across the street from me for ten years, and has never smiled, never waved, never said hello, never came across the street to introduce yourself, the one who makes me look friendly and gregarious. Yeah, sure, I recognize you now! He finally got back in his car, drove through the now-green light, pulled over into the curb lane without signalling, cutting three drivers off, and went into the plaza.
He never did explain how far back he thought I should be. As long as I don’t hit him, I can stop wherever I want. The *neighbor* thing bewildered me also. He was giving me shit for doing something he didn’t feel was acceptable; what does being a neighbor have to do with it?? Is it okay that I do the unforgivable to anybody else, just not to him? Damn, now I’ve offended him. He may not talk to me for another ten years. I hope!