Editor's note: What really happened...
A week later, my sweet friend Lora texted me, “I have something for you. Are you going to be home?”
Uh oh, I thought. Am I in trouble?
She arrived that afternoon with a plate of those beloved coconut-chocolate cookies and plaintively handed them to me.
“What are these for?” I asked as I hugged her.
“I’ve been dreading telling you this, but I’m the a**hole who left that card on your car,” she said.
I listened, puzzled, as she continued.
“I still had the card from when someone left it for me, and after the game I saw where you’d parked car. I put it in your window as a joke and then I took it too far.”
And then the absurdity of it all struck me a violent bout of oh-my-god-we’re-such-idiots laughter.
“I didn’t know you’d be so mad you’d spend a whole afternoon writing about it,” Lora said, watching me writhe in full-on spasms of hilarity.
That she’d been the culprit in the first place was absurd enough. And to hear that she’d agonized all week about my reaction—that she actually thought I’d end our friendship over such silliness—only made me laugh until I cried.
And the joke has been on Lora ever since. Weeks later, my husband and I are still teasing her about her little prank-gone-wrong.
“Yeah, ha ha,” Lora says. “Real funny girl over here.”
And while I considered just forgetting the whole incident and yanking this diatribe off my site, I simply thought it was too funny not to share. Plus I’d already made the t-shirts. Why not raise money for the humane society?
So, my dear Lora, I’ll end by saying to you nice try in offing me as your friend. For starters, you’re going to have to put a little more spite into your future efforts.
Second, you’ve now learned of how passionately I respond to slights that I feel are unfounded. As I now routinely remind her, “Do NOT mess with me.”
Third, you really should buy a t-shirt.
Hey you, the person in the blue Camry who blocked me in my parking spot at the soccer field today. The one who placed the “You park like an a**hole” card in my driver-side window. Yes, you. C’mere.
For starters, I’d like to thank you for making me so angry this afternoon to fuel one of the fastest jogs I’ve completed in a long time.
Second, I want to know you’ve got me all wrong. Believe me, I’m the first one to say I’m not perfect. I am very opinionated and judgmental, largely because (I’d like to think anyway) I expect others to set the same high expectations for themselves as citizens of this great earth as I do for myself.
Further, I ask others a lot of questions. (Duh, I’m a journalist.) And I’m prone to “foot in mouth” disease, a common condition for people like me who LOVE to talk. (Too much for some, in fact, as my girlfriend’s husband told her recently after I’d driven him to our kids’ field trip.)
In addition, I over-commit myself routinely, causing me oftentimes to be disorganized and utterly unpunctual. Oh, and I like to cuss. A lot.
In fact, Mr. or Ms. Camry, you incited such rage in me today that I almost said the “F-dash-dash-dash” word—the “mother of all cuss words” that earned Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” the soap-in-mouth punishment—in front of my 5-year-old son and his soccer buddy. I assure you, it was no small victory for me to bite my tongue.
But I also want you to know that I try very hard to be considerate in my daily life. I daresay even more now that I’m a mom because it’s actually my job to model good behavior.
So, as noted, I’m well aware of my imperfections. But being an a-hole is, in general, not among them.
That’s also true of my friend Lora, the only other person I know who’s discovered this same nastygram on her vehicle. I’ve often teased her over the years for her courteousness.
“You southerners are so damned polite!” I joke when she does any number of kind things for me, like delivering a plate of homemade chocolate-coconut cookies just because she knows how much I love them, even though she’s the mom of three young children.
Yet she was good-natured about finding the message on her window, chastising her for parking her minivan intolerably over the line. I, however, was aghast.
“Let me be the first to state publicly on Facebook that you are so NOT an a**hole!” I typed with rapid indignation. “I bet whoever left that for you doesn’t have three children under age 6!!!” (Note the three exclamation points for emphasis.)
So why, you ask, am I still so annoyed by the whole thing to write about it? What’s the big deal? You don’t know me anyway, spiteful-card distributor. Can’t I just let it go and not park in ways that offend others? I asked myself the same questions.
But I soon realized that what most bothered about the incident was where it took place—near sports fields, where parents are, in theory, teaching their kids to be team players, to win or lose graciously, and to display good character in times of adversity.
So what is a child to learn from an adult who resorts to such communication strategies about something that, in the great scheme of things, doesn’t really matter? And what did my child learn from witnessing me become so angered by it? (Or watching me scribble an equally nasty note on the back of the card and triumphantly sticking it back in the wrongdoer’s window? Hmph! Take that, Meany Meanerson!)
What’s more, you don’t know a thing about me, or any of the other drivers you’ve insulted. I could be a sweet, little, old widower who’s clinging to that last bit of independence by driving myself around town. Or a new mom stumbling zombie-like through my sleep-deprived reality. Maybe I’m just someone who’s having a crappy day. And now you’ve made it all the more crappy.
You know what I did one time when a person parked so poorly—diagonally so the car’s rear end nearly butted into car door—that I literally could not get into the driver’s side?
I waited as patiently as an inconvenienced mom of a toddler could muster. When the woman returned to her car, I was annoyed but calm as I spoke.
“Look. You cannot do that,” I said, pointing to her vehicle. “I had to get in the passenger’s side to get in.”
She was horrified but contrite. We both carried on our respective lives with relative dignity, and I’ve rarely thought enough about the incident to even recall it years later.
But I digress. I did park this morning in a place that clearly was not an official parking spot, but it was for good reason. Because we’d be at the soccer field all day, I wanted to bring along my mischievous dog so she didn’t find trouble at home, either by trashing our backyard or eating any number of non-food items inside the house that would inevitably make her hurl all over my rugs.
But as my high-maintenance husky also doesn’t really like other dogs, I was reluctant to bring her on the field. So I selected a cool spot under a giant shade tree, cracking the windows to keep her cool while watching my kids’ games.
While technically a corner, non-parking-spot—bordered on one side by an official spot that paralleled my car, and another spot where the Camry parked perpendicular to me—I was not inconveniencing anyone else.
And, actually, I’d arrived so uncharacteristically early for the game that I could have selected any number of parking spots. But I deliberately chose that one, Camry owner, so somebody like you wouldn’t report animal cruelty to the proper authorities (and, of course, to keep my dog comfortable in my absence).
You, on the other hand, purposely blocked me in the spot. So technically, you deserved to be called worse than your card specified.
I guess, ultimately, I’m getting on my soapbox to appeal to others who use these cards for spite. I get it—I’m not supposed to take life too seriously, to keep a sense of humor. Don’t be so sensitive!
But I think there is enough negativity in this world, and far more pressing issues than whether I’ve parked my car to your standards. How about you devote that energy to something that spreads joy instead of angst?
And especially if you’re a parent, I ask: Was it really that important to regard an otherwise law-abiding citizen—one who is a loyal daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend, and who mostly behaves herself—with such umbrage?
Trust me, I care very much about being a good citizen and raising my children as such, just like my mom did before me. I hope to instill in my sons a belief that most people are good and try to do the right thing.
So, I urge you to prove me right. Toss those cards in the recycle bin and find a more deserving recipient of your ire. Then teach your children to be more kind than you’ve been so far.
And if nothing else, buy my t-shirt. All proceeds will benefit my local humane society in honor of my dog, the cause of this entire episode.