My faith in humanity — or at least my conviction that people are genuinely nice by nature — has been tested recently.
It started a few weeks ago with a Saturday shopping trip — never a recipe for successful social interactions to begin with, I know, but it is the only free day I get all week and so I have gotten used to the crowds and overall chaos.
My youngest and I dropped his older brother and Dad off to soccer practice and headed out to our favorite pet store to pick up some grub for the four-legged kiddos. I was parked in a spot, gathering my things for the trek inside when the biggest box truck I have ever seen parks … Right. Next. To. Me.
When I say rightnexttome, I mean there were literally a few centimeters of distance between his driver’s side and my passenger side.
His lopsided parking job left part of the back end of his van actually in my space — and afforded him just enough space to crack his driver’s side door and squeeze out.
Now, I am the furthest thing from confrontational, but I reluctantly spoke up.
“Excuse me, sir?”
He completely ignored me and continued to walk on to his destination.
“Sir? … In the van?”
Nope. Still no acknowledgement.
“Sir, with the van parked next to me — I cannot get out of this space or get my child out!”
Still never slowing down, the man said “Oh well, guess you are gonna have to wait for me to come out.”
In desperation, I pleaded, “Seriously, I really cannot get out — you are blocking me in!” His response: “Guess you need to turn in your license until you learn how to drive.” Ouch.
Thankfully, some parking lot witnesses helped me guide my van out and I left — shaken up and pretty upset about the confrontation — postponing my shopping trip for later.
I was stunned that not only did this man not respect the fact that he was in the wrong, but he insulted me over his own parking inadequacies.
He had the name of his grooming/dog breeding business on the side of his van, and in the heat of the moment, I conspired to develop a Facebook campaign to boycott his business — but anyone who knows me knows full well I am not wired that way. To be mean or unkind.
You see, of all the traits that people aspire to be, being a nice, kind person is probably the one that means the most to me.
I’ve never been the smartest, prettiest or the most popular in the room — and I’m OK with that. But I like to think in many cases, I qualify as one of the nicer folks you can meet — or at least I work really hard at it.
The following week — another Saturday out running errands — I was in the fast food drive-through lane getting my little soccer star his requested Happy Meal. The clerk requested that I move up and wait for them to hand-deliver his chicken nuggets, which were still cooking, so they could keep the line moving.
We’ve all had to do that right? I know I’ve driven past many a car still waiting for their order to be delivered without so much as an eye roll about their parking.
Well, the nuggets were delivered and I waited until it was clear to leave when a giant pick-up truck flies past me, rolls his window down and yells “Get your dumb a$$ the (insert expletive here) out of the way!”
Now, thankfully, my children were in a different car with their dad and not exposed to the vulgarity but I was once again stunned by the lack of civility that I’d witnessed two times in as many weeks in my sweet little small town.
“Why are people so mean?” I asked my husband when I got home. “Is anyone nice to anyone anymore?”
But just as quickly as I am shaken by the idiot at the drive-through (another not so smart business owner with his company on his vehicle — let’s just say Mr. Baker will not be getting any of my future plumbing business!), I am reminded of the kindness that does abound around me: The glass of ice water that arrives faithfully on my nightstand each night, courtesy of my doting hubby, the boss who covers a meeting for me during her own busy schedule while I recover from a nasty cold, my mother and her frequent deliveries of goodies for my boys, the neighbor who drops off her coupon inserts on my doorstep, the former co-worker who still drives miles off her commute to leave bags and bags of clothes that her son has outgrown for my two boys.
There is plenty of kindness around — and from the people whose kindness truly makes a difference in my life. The more I think about it all of the truly good people who are in my life, the easier those not so great interactions are to forget.
Would it be nice to receive the kindness and civility from strangers every once in a while? Of course — and I still see signs of it during those crazy shopping trips.
And just as that terrible parker had no idea that backing out of that spot was already going to be a challenge for a driver (me) who had taken a tumble down the steps just a day earlier, I have no idea of his story either.
Maybe his dog had just died, he had just received some bad news. … Or maybe he really is a jerk of a person.
However, I will continue to aspire to be as loving as I can to everyone I can and hope the habit gets passed along and that kindness is paid forward. And I will continue to teach that trait to my boys — and hope for the best.
But maybe I better rethink my Saturday outings (and avoid akita breeders in box trucks and plumbers). Just in case! 🙂