Biff America column: You say potato, I hear tomato
July 3, 2014
My first thought was she had to be the least happy fiance in the world.
My second was wondering why she came running up to me, a perfect stranger, put her face about a foot from mine, and hissed, "I'm engaged!"
I was concerned that perhaps she was mentally unstable.
I was not sure what was expected of me but, not wanting to be rude, I responded, "That is wonderful, congratulations."
Hoping that was the end of it and I could get on with my day, I leaned my bicycle against the rack and headed toward the front door.
Over my shoulder I heard, "Are you some kind of moron?"
As I advance in age my senses and brain functions seem to be going. My vision is not great unless I'm wearing contacts or glasses, my memory for faces and names and personal history has diminished.
But even worse than my vision and memory is my hearing. I'm told a hearing aid could be in my future.
That said my current hearing was good enough to hear the lady call me a moron but still I had to ask, "Did you just call me a moron?"
Again she put her face, and body a little closer than I'm comfortable and said, "You are either stupid or a wise guy, I told you I was 'enraged' and you said that was wonderful."
It did not take long to clear up the misunderstanding. But then I made the mistake of asking, "Why are you enraged?" Rather than answer she took me by the arm and dragged me down the street. (Did I mention that I don't like being touched by strangers?)
About 50 feet away was a red Audi. She opened the driver's side door, placed her purse on the seat and said, "What do you think of this?"
I know a trick question when I hear one, but I couldn't help myself, "Cool car!"
From her reaction I thought she might again call me a moron.
Rather, she spoke loud and slowly like she was talking to a child or a … moron and pointed out how someone had parked so closely in back of her and she would have difficulty getting her car out of her parking spot. She admitted that she parked a little close to the van in front of her but when the old truck behind pulled within a foot of her rear bumper, she was almost boxed in. While she was telling me this she was getting more and more agitated.
I have to say the old Ford truck was pulled up pretty close, which was made even worse by the fact that the lady had pulled quite close to the van in front. But it wasn't so close that, with my guidance, the Audi could not get out. I had the lady get behind the wheel and pulled back and forth turning right and left while I told her how far she could go before she hit the cars in front and rear. It only took a couple of minutes and she was out.
She rolled down her passenger window, while blocking traffic, thanked me and asked, "Why are people such jerks?" (She used a cruder word than "jerks") and drove away.
It did get me thinking. I don't think people generally are jerks. More likely people are distracted, hurried, overwhelmed and often clueless. They are often so wrapped up in their own lives, needs, fears and challenges that they forget or overlook how their actions affect others. It might have been Watson who said, "Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about."
Now the above words do little good to help an angry sports car owner to get out of a tight spot. But it helps to put in perspective that it does no good to take the carelessness (and cluelessness) of your fellow humans personally.
Or like the Audi owner said just before she drove away: "Thank you for your help but before I go I should tell you to fry that clown."
The entire encounter was just too strange. I had no idea what she was talking about but just wanted to get away so I said "OK" and walked away.
It wasn't until later I realized what she said was, "Your fly is down." I'm just thankful that she's engaged.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.