I do not understand the yellers. The people who cannot live another moment unless they tell you just how badly you just fucked up. I really don’t get it.
I’ve been the recipient of yelling on two occasions recently, and yes, I readily take the blame for having erred. Once was at the very first Academic Triathlon meet that I’ve ever hosted for our school. I was supposed to read the scene for the P.A.R.T.Y in a Box for the audience before the first team performed, and I forgot. I realized as soon as they started and planned to go up and apologize and read the scene after they were done. It was MY team, so it wasn’t like this was causing some unfair disadvantage to anyone else. In the 5 minutes they were performing, something like eight people came up to me—stood in line behind each other—to tell me that I was supposed to read the scene before they started. I cannot even fathom standing in a line and hearing several people ahead of you say exactly the same thing you intend to say and still go through with it. Really, what did they expect me to do about it at that point? To make it worse, three people called me at home the week following the event to tell me that I should have read the scene before the kids performed. How do you respond to something like that?
The second incident was just yesterday. The car in front of me turned the corner to get in the line in front of the school to pick up the kids. Then it was my turn and as I turned the corner, I realized that the cars weren’t moving up as much as I anticipated they would. I had misjudged the amount of space available and part of my car would be in the crosswalk, but I couldn’t put my car in reverse back around the corner. I was pretty well committed to this awkward situation. I’ve seen it happen to other people. It’s not always easy to gauge from around the corner how much room there is, but since the line behind you extends out into another intersection down the street, you want to scoot up and keep things tight. I’ve also seen cars honking at people who are waiting for adequate room around the corner and aren’t turning when the people behind them think they should. It’s a high-emotion corner. I’ve never been honked before. Truth be told, my daughter prefers that I get there later so she can hang out with her friends, so there usually isn’t even much of a line by the time I get there, which is fine by me because this whole situation seems to turn grown ups into a bunch of squabbling idiots. Anyway, so once in a while, somebody misjudges the available space and their ass is blocking the crosswalk. Yesterday, it was mine. One kid approached the crosswalk while I was left dangling out in it, and he had to wait about 90 seconds for the line in front of me to move so I could scoot up out of his way. In that 90 seconds, a woman stopped at the stop sign coming the other way rolled down her window and made angry arm gestures at me. I made a “What?” gesture myself and she shouted, “What’s the matter with you? There are KIDS trying to cross the street!” and continued with the huffy arm movements and scowling face as though this was the worst offense against humanity she’d ever witnessed. OK, yes, I did in fact screw up. In the years of picking my kid up at that school, this is the first time I’ve misjudged the space, and I’ll be careful to not do it again. But, what exactly would she have me do about it right then? Her yelling at me actually delayed the child’s progress home by a few seconds because I was distracted by her when the car in front of me moved up and I could get my tail end out of the crosswalk.
I don’t understand the yelling. Is it that people need to be so right all the time that they just can’t stop themselves from pointing out someone else’s error? Even if a bunch of people already have? Even if pointing it out will do nothing to change what’s happening now? I obviously figured out the P.A.R.T.Y in a Box thing and fixed it at the first opportunity. The car situation is bigger than my little error yesterday, but it might serve everyone better if a long-term solution is proposed to the board, rather than just continuing to honk and shout at each other at the street corners. As for me, I’ll try to just avoid it by getting there after the line is gone.
But, the thing I really don’t understand, is what I asked before … how do you respond to people when they do this? Not just at the moment, but later, when you have to see them again? I may have committed an unforgivable offense, the lore destined to passed orally from coach to coach through the rest of time when I forgot to read the scene from the P.A.R.T.Y in a Box at the January 11th Round Robin, but all those people who lined up to alert me of my fuck up again, and again, and again and then called me at home to make sure I knew I fucked up? I’ll never be able to look at them like they’re normal human beings again. I feel like Mel Gibson in Signs, pointing these people out to my kids and saying, “See that lady? I don’t any of you spending any time with that lady alone. Understand?” Because what kind of people DO this? The lady in the car yesterday, what am I supposed to say to her when I bump into her at some pot luck? My husband suggested I ask if she’s over it yet. She won’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about because she probably goes around yelling at everyone for everything and my most horrible crime against children there at the crosswalk will be long forgotten. But, I won’t forget her. Her twisted face looking comically demonic from behind the windshield, her wild arms gesturing violently through the SUV’s open window. The scene has been burned into my brain forever. The honkers are no better. How do they greet each other at the soccer games after they’ve just been mechanically screaming at each other day in, day out? We have to live together on this planet. We have to do our best to make our way through interactions with each other. There will be bumps. There will be accidents. Mistakes will be made and corrected. I know I am embarrassed when I screw up, but I’d be even more embarrassed to make such an ass out of myself rushing to point out someone else’s screw up. To err is human, to have a big screaming hissy fit about it is just stupid.
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