This was going to be a “sheesh – some people” post about rudeness. But then I figured it should be about something bigger, which is “conclusions, and the people who jump to them.”
You probably know that a year and a half ago, as I was harmlessly riding my bicycle down the street, my ankle was broken by a moron car driver who opened his door and sent me flying onto the street. Technically, perhaps, the impact broke my ankle and not the driver, but as a result, I am now one of the carefullest car drivers around bicycles. So that’s all you need to know for background.
And then today, after I dropped my sister off on our way home from our chol hamoed outing, after being stuck in Easterish parade traffic for maybe 20 minutes, I was eager to get home, but noticed some cyclists on the corner who looked like they might head into the intersection. Cyclists in this town are a fun breed, too; most just go ahead and do whatever they want and blame car drivers if anything bad happens (ignore my paragraph above blaming the car driver for breaking my ankle).
So I was being leery of these cyclists, two women who looked like they might either a) pull over and stop on the sidewalk OR b) pedal out in front of me. Again, in this city, either one could happen at any moment. I slowed down at the corner, rolling almost to a stop until I could be sure I knew what they had in mind.
At which point, the truck behind me honked – LOUD. Really, really loud. I don’t drive a little hatchback anymore, but even as a station wagon, our car is probably not physically big enough to make a sound this obnoxious. Clearly, the driver wanted me out of the way – fair enough; it must be obnoxious to slow down solely to (potentially) save a life.
And then – one of these lady cyclists, whose life I had been so cautious to preserve, swivelled around from talking to her friend (yes, it turned out they were pulling over to shmooze on the sidewalk, but it could have gone either way), saw my car rolling gently past the corner (windows open), made eye contact with me and yelled --
-- Well, she yelled a thing which utterly belied my assumption in the previous paragraph that she was a lady, and she yelled it right into the open window of one of my children.
By which point, accelerating out of the turn, I was already so far away that when I yelled back, “it wasn’t me!” she couldn’t possibly have heard.
Which sent me home fuming, where I sit typing this now. And I thought, this could be a rant about rudeness, about the casual way strangers swear in front of my children… or it could be a message everybody needs (even me), over and over: don’t jump to conclusions without being very, very certain that the situation is as you perceive it to be.
I hope that sentence made sense.
It’s a message we’ve all heard many, many times. And yet, if some jerk honks at you on a street corner, and you swivel around and locate the closest person to target with your ire… she might not have been the jerk after all.
So I guess that’s the message here:
I’m not the jerk you’re looking for, lady. But then, I guess you’re not the lady I thought I was looking out for…so now we’re even.
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