Here’s me last Friday morning: It wasn’t even noon yet in my corner of the world and I’d already had my well-that’s-a-first moment of the day. A complete stranger went off on me for no reason and ended his rant by calling me a “fucking scumbag.”
My unique experience began with me driving to the store. As I was merging into the turning lane leading into the parking lot of the store, the driver of the car behind me fully entered the turning lane, sped up, and attempted to cut me off. Clearly it was of the utmost importance that he get into the parking lot and the store three seconds ahead of me.
In my side-view mirror I could see what he was attempting to do but, being that my car was already halfway into the turning lane, I kept merging into the turning lane; thus defeating his attempt. He honked his horn at me to say “hi.” I waved back, “good morning!” and went about my business of turning and finding a parking place.
I had already parked my car and was in the process of getting out when an older guy advanced upon me and began yelling. I don’t remember his first words because, quite frankly, I’m usually a zombie in the morning so I don’t focus well on the unnecessary. So all I heard was “blah, blah, blah, it’s trash like you that’s bringing this country down! Get a fucking job!” And then, since all I had done was stare at him without speaking, he gave a disgusted sneer, looked me up and down and ended with “you fucking scumbag!” Then his short, stout, beer belly having, balding lil ass stomped off along his merry way to spread more love elsewhere.
My reaction to Grumpy’s tirade? I went into the store, did my shopping and went about my day. With America’s negative view of cops, I’ve had a couple of decades worth of experience in being accused of and called some very interesting (and inventive) things over the years. People’s false opinions of me and accusations don’t really register on a personal level. I can say I’ve never been called a fucking scumbag or told to get a job though. So that was interesting.
Now fast forward to this morning: I’m driving to the store because I’m jonesin’ for a latte. I’m about ten miles from my destination when I see a car pulled off to the side of the road. I pull up alongside the car to talk to the driver and see none other than….Mr. Grumpy from last Friday in the driver’s seat!
I asked if he needed help. Grumpy said yes, he’d ran out of gas. I told him I had a gas can and would be happy to take him to town to get gas. He said he appreciated it, got into my SUV and away to the store we went.
While in the store getting my latte, I noticed Mr. Grumpy was at the cash register trying to pay for gas. He had a bunch of coins in his pocket that he was having the cashier count out. The amount he had wouldn’t have paid for much more than a gallon of gas. Not wanting to embarrass him, I asked him to do a trade–pay for my latte and I’d put his gas on my card since I needed to fill up my tank anyway. Grumpy hesitantly agreed.
I drove him back to his car and we had a short disagreement over him adding all of the gas from the can to his car (it was an 8 gal. can). I told him to take it all, no big deal, maybe he could do the same for someone else in the future when the time came.
While we were waiting for the gas to be dumped in his tank from the can, he told me I looked familiar to him and asked if I worked or lived around there. I told him no, I’m just visiting the area; I probably just have one of those faces. As I was replying, Grumpy read the words on my t-shirt. It said, “Easily Distracted.” It was the same shirt I’d been wearing the Friday before when he’d called me a “fucking scumbag.”
Grumpy’s body did a minute pause before he looked up to look me in the eyes. His eyes told me he’d just remembered where he’d seen me before. I looked back at him, smiled, and told him it looked like the can was empty. He looked back down and didn’t look at me again, even as he handed me the can and told me thank you several times.
I told him I hoped the rest of his day went better for him and drove away.
Now. I’m curious about what you think: I didn’t set out to teach him any lessons but in hindsight, I wonder if he learned any. Do you think he did? Or, do you think he’ll forget and be the same judgmental asshole who unloads his anger at the world on another unsuspecting innocent party? Would you have helped Grumpy? I’d help again because that’s just me, but, do you think I was stupid for helping? Lastly, what do you think was going through Grumpy’s mind when he realized who I was (I tend to think his first thought was “oh, shit!” but I wonder what he thought after that)? No judgment here in your answers, inquiring minds really are just interested in others’ views.