Monday, October 10, 2011

Problems with the Positive

Yesterday, in one 45 minute period of driving, three idiots on the highway cut me off, passed me illegally, and played chicken with me running me off the road until I yielded.

I should have let the last bastard, who smiled and waved as he did it, run into my car. He would have had to face me then, or face jail.

But I didn't. And I regret my characteristic timidity. I did however veer off the road, horn blaring, and followed him several miles down his little road in town. I hope he felt very threatened, and I hope he was afraid for at least a moment I was going to hurt him.

I had no gun of course, and even if I did, I wouldn't use it. But enough had been enough. I am always made to feel as though I don't count when I am driving by people who act this way. My life, my safety, and that of any of my passengers is of no significance to such people. It is bad enough when people park illegally in a handicap slot, or go tearing down the highway at 100 miles on hour (with nary a pig in sight as usual). But when they put my life in danger, I want them to face consequences of some sort. To hell that "sending good vibes" song and dance routine. It doesn't work for me at such times.

This road incident is like many others that have nothing to do with driving, and even those that lack the immediate physical threat response of being on the road. We live in a world where people like me, (those that do not take everything from everyone, regardless of the cost) are fucked with constantly. A world of rednecks in pick up trucks, line cutters, terrible customer service, shameless self promoters, arrogant and hairy motorcycle gangs that ignore traffic laws, (redundant I know), and duplicitous friends who are in support of you until it is inconvenient and then you never hear from them again. And more and more different people who make victims of the respectful, socialized human beings of the Earth.

And I find the need to respond when I can. Sometimes I think if they pull out a gun and shoot me while I am cussing them out, so be it. At least I will have died standing up for myself, and they will have wasted a bullet. And with any luck will go to jail for the rest of their lives where they won't be free to make victims anymore.

Response. Not changing anything, but response. Because heaven knows people like my don't ever change anything in those situations. You see,  I am not a menacing looking person, and a lifetime of these sort of symbolic castrations as exhibited on the highway has made me weary of just about anyone who advises to "let it go". Because you see, when one "let's it go", one is giving their assent to being a victim. Even if all you can do is make noise, or on a good day, scare the other person into thinking you are just crazy enough to somehow harm them for a moment without actually doing so, you are at least sending a message to both them, and the universe, that you are not a pin cushion into which psychopaths can stick their pins whenever they find they want to. It provides some small degree of proof that you do in fact take up space on this planet as a human being, where "looking on the positive side" and "letting it roll like water off of a duck's back" does not.

There are times when I am not even as angry as I appear. Where I could simply say nothing and seethe on my own, and not do so for very long. But lately I am fighting against that outward calmness because enough is enough. Turning the other cheek in these situations has very rarely made me feel any better about them. I just brood over them in silence for days. This is better than responding?

Now,  fighting back doesn't usually solve things right away either, but in the very least I can go to bed that night knowing that I at least did something. No matter how rude, loud, or vulgar, I have at least proven that I am not to be toyed with. Proven it to myself if nobody else, (because other people are, in the end, out to crush as many people like me as they can in pursuit of whatever it is they want. They are trained by a lifetime of entitlement to not give a shit about anyone but themselves, and that includes you.)

And to be frank, sometimes chasing somebody down, yelling, or making a scene will make me feel better. Like I said, that moment of the perpetrator being uncertain just how to handle what is happening.

There are also times when I can feel some degree of satisfaction in the knowledge that I may have at least caused the other party inconvenience. Such as the slow moving and unresponsive check out woman at the department store who's immediate supervisor I emailed after going to the website. She had to at least take time out of her day to be quizzed about my experience, while her machine history was checked. (So I was told in the return email.) Or writing down the  plate number of one of the many maniacs I dealt with on the road  last night, and reporting it to the police, mentioning just how erratic the driving was. (Perhaps they will want to investigate just enough this morning that the guy will be made late for work when he is pulled over, and get yelled at by his boss, even if nothing legal comes of it.)

Not much, but we do what we can to make a sound in the echo chamber that is our lives. I don't have riches, influence, importance or fame on which to fall back. Outward success has not come to me. If/when it does, will I feel less put out by people running all over me for their own convenience? Perhaps so. Especially when connections and wealth have time and again proven to be effective counters to all kinds of trouble. I won't know for certain until I am wealthy and successful.

But until then, when I have had enough I will shove those carts out of my way at the market without a word, waste the cashier's time as they wasted mine, take down plate numbers, call restaurant managers five minutes before I know the place is getting ready to lock up in order to complain about a waiter, (they are more likely to get pissed at the shitty server if you wait until they really want to be home to make your long, time consuming phone complaint. Good tip for the future.), and any number of other small retaliatory strikes that are within my legal disposal.

Will that kind of non-response ever be good enough for me? I don't really know. I know I have tried it for years in some cases. I know I have previously tried to remake myself in the image of a Gandhi. And I know that such attempts by and large have failed. Letting karma handle it, or keeping positive thoughts, or sending love their way, or any number of other things that success gurus and feel good swamees advocate usually does exactly nothing to equalize my place in the universe of which I have been robbed by such ape-like behavior. If one day the timid approach does work, fine. Yet until then, I have a place in the universe for which I need to stand up. And when you go through the things I sometimes go through, having a place in the universe is sometimes all you've got.

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