I grew up with money. My father owned his own business and was very successful. We had a large house, nice cars, and we took expensive vacations. But my parents weren’t prideful about their money, nor did they ever think that having an abundance of resources exempted them from treating all others with dignity and human kindness. In the little time he had off from his hectic work schedule, my father could be found plowing the snow off our street in the wee hours of the morning so that our neighbors could get their cars out to go to work, or helping a friend with a home improvement project. Because my father’s business generated enough income on its own, my mother was able to stay home and be available to us kids while we were young. When we grew older and more independent she volunteered a great deal of her time at various ministries and civic organizations where she could give of herself, and sought nothing in return except the personal satisfaction she gained from helping others.
Although we had plenty of money, my parents bought used cars, shopped at garage sales, repaired broken items instead of trashing them, and never ever flaunted their wealth. They were the elusive millionaires next door. A friendly couple that one would never suspect sat on a small fortune. A fortune amassed from years of hard work and wise financial decisions. This is the ethic I was raised with.
I was also raised to follow the golden rule; to do to others as you would wish them to do to you. That mantra guides my actions every day of my life. Now, I’m not claiming to be perfect…not by a long shot. I can still be quite selfish and rude and hurtful to others. And at times, I can be downright nasty. But that is never my intention. My desire is to build others up. My hope is that I might leave each person I encounter feeling more positive about themselves.
Unfortunately, when I have an encounter like the one I had last weekend with the lady in the Corvette, I can sometimes lose my focus and my cool. I can become filled with righteous indignation and instead of spreading joy, I can spew venom. I don’t like this about me. God doesn’t much like this about me either. I’m supposed to be a representative of him, and I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t approve of me snapping at the lady in the Corvette.
I’m not offering an excuse for my actions, but let me take a moment to explain how I got there. You see, Christ teaches that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. So, when what is asked of a person is minimal and within reason (such as backing your car up a few feet to make room for someone else to park) there is no acceptable excuse not to act accordingly. In fact, it should be ones pleasure to do so. It would have taken zero resources and literal seconds of Corvette Lady’s time for her to engage in the simplest act of humanity, but she refused. Instead she mocked me as I labored in vain to fit my van into the tight space. And when I approached her and asked her to back up, she quarreled with me about it. To say I was dumbstruck would be an understatement. One has to make the conscious decision to be a complete and utter jackwagon in this situation. There was no misunderstanding of what my need was, but still she made the cognitive decision to put herself before everyone else.
When she saw me trying to back into the space, she had the chance to move her car the necessary distance to assist me without having to be asked. But she didn’t. When I asked her to back up her car a few feet, she could have said “Sure”. But she didn’t. When our conversation took a more heated tone, she could have remained in her car instead of jumping out to make herself a physical threat. But she didn’t. And she could have decided, even after all that, to say “Fine, I’ll back up, but you don’t have to be such a b*tch about it.” Even that would have been acceptable to me, because by that point, I was being a b*tch about it. But still, she didn’t. She had lots of opportunities to do the right thing long before I nearly snapped and considered ramming her car, but doing the right thing was nowhere on her radar…although it would have saved us both a lot of grief.
Unfortunately what happened next is all on me. I was so flustered by the event that I decided to post a short rant about it on Facebook. Typically this wouldn’t have been a big deal. I would have aired my grievance and felt better for having vented. But I didn’t stop with my little rant. I posted the photo I took of the back of her car along with it…license plate exposed. I acknowledge that my decision was an unsavory one intended to call her out publicly, although she was a complete stranger to me. In hindsight, I should have just written the post and not included the photo. If I had, the following events would have never unfolded. But I did. And this is what happened…
Someone on my Facebook friend list recognized the car in the photo and contacted the woman with the Corvette about it. The Corvette Lady then sent me a private message via Facebook, which went something like this:
“I was parked in that spot for nearly 2 ½ hours before you arrived, but you didn’t care about that at all. You were very rude to me and it was obvious that you are used to getting your way. I’ll have you know that I’ve worked very hard for all of the things that I have…not that you would know anything about that, since you are fat and lazy. It wouldn’t have hurt you to walk the extra three blocks to the complex.”
I did not reply to her, but deleted the message. Then, because the whole incident was still weighing heavy on my mind, yesterday I wrote the first half of this story on my blog. My blog site is preset to automatically post a link to both my Facebook and Twitter accounts when I have an update so that my followers know to check it out. Unfortunately, the same person who tattled on me to Corvette Lady regarding my original facebook post also saw the link to the blog post and became irate. Although all she knew of the encounter was what I had written and the wildly contradictory version of the episode she was given from Corvette Lady, she went about slamming me on my Facebook page. She called me a liar. A hypocrite. A shame to the Christian faith. She misquoted me multiple times and refused my offer to sit down with her so that we might discuss the incident face to face. She said that I was a bully and so were all of the other people who had posted comments regarding the blog.
While her rant was irritating to read, I was actually quite fascinated that she, just like her friend the Corvette lady, took a neutral incident and escalated it into a confrontation. The blog post was a story. My story. Writen by me, from my point of view, to tell about an incident in my life from my personal perspective. I mentioned no names, I did no one any harm. Still, she went about shaming me and name-calling. Each time I tried to diffuse the situation she went for the jugular. In the end I had to block her from my page to put a stop to her relentless attack.
Interestingly enough, when the Corvette lady sent me the private message I learned her name. Her name rang a bell, so I did a quick Google search to refresh my memory and sure enough, she owns a local business. A business associated with her name. In fact, her face is plastered on adverts all over this area of town (I hadn’t recognized her at the time because the face she wore with me was twisted in anger, not the smiling face of the lovely professional headshot.) The business she’s in relies a great deal on word of mouth and positive customer reviews. One would think that a person in her position would be especially cautious about how she treats others in public as you never know where your next business reference will come from and likewise, as in this instance, who might witness or otherwise catch wind of any unpleasantness and use that as fuel to harm your livihood.
Luckily for Corvette Lady I am not vendictive and petty (or I would have rammed her car). Although I feel very strongly that she initiated the wrong in this incident, it is possible she was just having an off day. Lord knows I was. God shows each of us grace when we least deserve it, the least I can do is extend that gift to others.
So Corvette Lady, wherever you are, I’m sorry I was rude to you. I was wrong and I ask your forgiveness. I hope that we can put this incident behind us. And if our paths cross again, I hope that it can be a cordial encounter.
However, please understand that whenever I am witness to an act of injustice or inhumanity, you can bet your bottom I’m going to step up and intervene. And there’s a good chance I’ll blog about it too.
I don’t know why but I found this whole thing very interesting. Perhaps because I am also one who speaks up when no one else does and often am made the bad guy in situations because of it. Like you, I’m not saying I always say things perfectly or handle it the way the other person would like but I’m still surprised how the other party finds literally no fault in their own actions.
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It’s Corvette Lady’s world, and we all just live in it.
When I was days away from giving birth to twins (who went the full 40 weeks), I got on a bus. Not a single person stood up to offer me a seat. I had such a hard time standing that I had to get off on the first stop we got to. Maybe 3 blocks away.
Rude, selfish people can do a lot to ruin another person’s day with one simple act, just as one simple act of kindness can completely change another person’s day for the better. Good for you for saying exactly what the rest of us are always thinking. And good for you for noticing your own faults in handling it.