funny…it’s one of the things that I’m preparing to let go. I’m working to imagine myself as a person who doesn’t lose his cool, doesn’t let little annoyances make him act in ways he’d rather not act.
I slept three or four hours the night before last, getting up early in the morning to drive to springfield for a service conference. I didn’t eat any substantial food before or during the conference, presuming that we would all go get something to eat together afterward, because that’s what we usually do. when the conference was over, it became clear that most people were planning to leave town immediately.
I got a call from a co-worker who needed someone to cover his shift and I agreed to be that person because I knew I could use the money. I arrived back in CU at the time I was supposed to start working, so I had to rush to get there after stopping at home to change clothes. it started off a slow evening, but began to pick up after a couple of hours. I worked with two other people, one who moves just quickly enough to handle his own responsibilities, but not much more. the other guy, a young guy, was not only too slow to keep up with his own stuff, he isn’t attentive enough to see where his services are required. I really busted ass, moving quickly to do my job well and pick up slack so that the place remained in decent shape.
the first episode of the newest season of the sopranos would begin at 8, so I did my best to get out of there as early as possible. I pulled out of the parking lot at 7:50, calling the little lady to let her know that I was on my way, so she should come out to the car so that we could head over to the home of a friend who has cable, clear the hell across town. She seemed fairly upbeat about getting out of the apartment to do something fun—she’d been at home cleaning all day—and excited to spend some time with our friend, whom she hasn’t seen much recently. I drove more quickly and aggressively than I usually do (riding in my car on normal days makes my brother incredibly nervous), but remained as attentive as always. I noticed a police car at an intersection, and I glided through knowing that I had been driving somewhat fast as I approached the intersection. perhaps he had noticed before I slowed down?
I saw in the rearview that he turned in the direction I was going, so I chose at the next intersection to take the furthest left lane—the turning lane—because it was the least likely intersection for him to take. this forced me to amend my choice of driving route, an inconvenience, but not enough to make me lose time. I hurried down the road, following a slow car through one of my right-hand turns. I hopped into the left lane to pass the putters-along, but the driver—an adolescent—saw my desire to pass as an opportunity to prove to his equally adolescent passenger how cool he was. He sped up to my speed, so I continued to accelerate, hoping to get past him before I was blocked by a car in my own lane.
sure enough, he stayed even with me and I was forced to slow down and get behind the kids. at this point, I was pissed. then, to make things more interesting, the little boy let off the gas for bit, slowing to a speed equal to that of the obstructing vehicle in the other lane. I was trapped. I had nowhere to go. I saw a red light ahead and imagined getting out of my car when we stopped, running up to his and pounding on his window, just enough to scare the piss out of him. the light turned green before we stopped, so I continued to ride his ass, hoping to catch him at the next red light. when we approached the next light, he passed the car on the left and jumped into the left turn lane, while I needed to go forward, and the light turned red, bringing us to a stop with a car between us. just to the right on the cross street, a police car was stopped with its lights on, and it looked like the officer was in the yard of the house on the corner, talking to the owners about some domestic dispute call or something of that nature. I looked to the boys on my left, rolling my window down to tell them something. the passenger stared at me, then opened his window when he realized I was going to say something.
“You got lucky,” I yelled.
“You got lucky!”
I realized he wasn’t going to say anything, just continue to say “what?” because he could think of nothing else and because it was enough to piss me off even more.
“You heard me,” I yelled. They had a turn arrow, so they went, and I took off when our light went green. I realized as I rode down the street that my girlfriend had been yelling at me to shut up since I first started talking to those kids, but I hadn’t noticed. she continued to tell me how silly it was for me to say anything to them, and I exploded.
“You have to stand up to people acting like fools when they do, or they’ll continue to be idiots!” I yelled. she shut up and stared straight ahead, and I knew that she had decided to remove herself from the argument. I flashed forward to an evening of the silent treatment that I’ve gotten from her before, and I slammed on the brakes. turn around? get out of the car? kick her out of the car? I decided to drop her off at my friend’s so I could go somewhere to cool off.
“I can’t stand it when you do this–give me this silent treatment. I’m not gonna deal with it. I’ll drop you off at his place, you can watch the show without me.”
she said no, so we continued to drive, heading right back home because I didn’t know where else to go. I called my friend when we’d made it a quarter or halfway back home, and he said that the show was just beginning. fifteen minutes after the hour, and the show was just beginning. we could’ve made it on time.
that was about the time that it hit me. the things I’d said were the things I’d needed to hear.
“You got lucky.”
we could’ve ended up at a stoplight with no cops around, with no other cars around. I could’ve gotten out of my car and gone up to scare them, taking my road rage to an entirely new level. how often would I let it go there, then, having done it once already? how many ass-kickings could I potentially receive, if I decided to get out of my car each time a driver pissed me off, or how long would it take for police to knock on my door or pull me over to find out why I was threatening people? I got lucky, because the Universe conspired to put me in a place where outside influences prevented me from following through with bad ideas formed by my inner influences.
“You have to stand up to people acting like fools when they do, or they’ll continue to be idiots!” wasn’t that what she was doing? I was acting like a fool, a child. those kids thought I wanted a pissing contest, so they brought it…and I ended up pissed off because I was getting pissed on. I wanted to stand up and prove that I was in control, not them, so I let them make me mad, let them force me to act like a fool. and the little lady tried to tell me, so I snapped at her. she’d been cleaning the apartment all day and got excited when I told her we were going to break our routine of eating in our pajamas and watching a movie before bed. she brought a tub of homemade cookies for us to snack on while we watched the sopranos. and now I was yelling at her because I was afraid that I didn’t get my way, I wouldn’t be able to watch my show.
I began apologizing, but got frustrated with it because I knew saying I was sorry couldn’t convey the fact that I realized how shitty it was for me to treat her like shit because I didn’t get what I wanted. now a nice, relaxing evening hanging out with a friend would turn into the loneliness of two people in an apartment who have nothing to say to each other, simply because traffic wasn’t flowing quickly enough for one of them. we got to the apartment and I layed on the couch, trying to figure out how to make the situation right. . . waiting for her to come put her hand on my shoulder and tell me she knew I had a rough day, and that she believed me when I said that I was sorry. I realized that I would have to say something more. I was waiting for her to understand me, when I should have been explaining that I understood her (if, in fact, I did understand). I explained to her that it was outrageous that I would yell at her when all she wanted to do was have a nice evening, that she didn’t deserve that. I told her that I needed to make up for it, needed to take her out for dinner somewhere nice. of course, at that time on a Sunday night, there aren’t a lot of places open. we ended up going to the Olive Garden, where she had a glass of wine. I try to tell her, but sometimes I think she doesn’t believe me, that seeing her drink a glass of wine at dinner doesn’t bother me, as long as I don’t ever have to see her drunk. a glass of wine probably did her a little good at that point.
we drove carefully on the way home, having overheard at dinner that there was a tornado warning in the area.