I admired my husband yesterday. We were driving, and I noticed how effortlessly he converts potentially tense moments into laughter. How, when there is a short second to respond to another driver’s actions, he is relaxed and generous and calm. When a driver tailgates, then moves out to pass—crossing yellow lines on a curvy, two-lane mountain highway—Curt typically says, “You go, dude!” So not offended.
I actually thought about this for a few minutes, contrasting his lack of ridiculous emotion with my tendency towards pettiness. I had a wee little conversation with myself: Self, you need to take a tip from this man. Then I looked at the clouds and thought about Downton Abbey.
At lunch today, I got a pop-quiz in pettiness. I drove to the post office. There were two spaces to park in front of it. As I was about to turn left and take one of the spots, the driver opposite me turned right and parked. I pulled up behind her and waited for her to pull forward into the front spot. I assumed she’s been to gas stations and has experience pulling forward to the front pump. And right before my eyes, she got out, closed the car door, and walked into the post office.
For Pete’s Sake! I put the car into reverse, pulled around the Offender’s car, parallel parked into the middle space. And put my Sheriff’s Badge on. Squinting and spluttering with indignation, I hadn’t got a clear view of the woman. I knew she wore a black leather coat. When I got into the post office there were two women in black leather coats. I had a mind to tap one on the shoulder and remind her of the particulars of parking courtesy. But I refrained, not wanting to tap the wrong shoulder.
Not to sound dualistic or anything, but while I was fuming and debating with myself, another me was standing to the side watching myself, aghast. When did you become such a crotchety old lady? Good grief, she probably never saw you pull up behind her! Get a grip!
Getting to the counter was like receiving a phone call at home in the middle of the argument: that instant transformation from snippy to sweet! I like the kind employees of the U.S. Postal Service and they like me. We were friendly, happy, relaxed, calm, affable. And then I went out the door, as the Offender was getting into her car. I’ll show her! I started the engine, glared in my rear view mirror, and clenched my teeth. I should just sit here and make her have to pull around me. The other me was astonished at this vindictive streak. I pulled into the street. A horn blasted, a car swerved, and now I was on the receiving end of a glare.
So caught up I was in petty “crime” that I didn’t check for traffic. I was the jerk who pulled out in front of a car. I braked, the car threaded around me, and I saw how stupid I was. I’d just been given a pop-quiz on pettiness and flunked. But the mercies of the Lord are new every hour, and I was spared injury. It was a moment to take stock. It was a moment to remember. It was a moment to give thanks.
Photo credit: Sidewalk outside La Grande post office, D. Harper