You know all those people whose anger Donald Trump is supposedly tapping into? I think I just met one of them in, of all places, the Whole Foods parking lot.
I was backing out of my parking spot last Sunday at the same time she was exiting hers. No, I didn't hit her car. In fact, quite the opposite: To avoid a collision, I braked and pulled forward, retreating back into my parking spot to let her go first. I was being nice. But as we've learned from The Donald, niceness has no place in our lives if we want America to be great again. Instead of a friendly wave of thanks, this other driver unleashed a torrent of profanity at me and concluded with "MAKE UP YOUR MIND," yelled loud enough that I suspect some shocked Whole Foods shoppers may have dropped their kale chips.
As I posted to Facebook after the incident, the driver's rage was palpable -- and disturbing to me. Her face was red, her temples palpitating and her finger pointed menacingly at me. And over what? Her misunderstanding of my intentions.
It was one of those icky moments that make you scratch your head and wonder about the future of humanity. As I wrote on Facebook: "Why are people so needlessly angry and awful? Please don't preach to me about how I don't know what burdens [this woman] carries. I'm counting on karma to make sure she steps in dog poop." OK, I was still feeling the bee sting when I wrote that last part.
But my Facebook friends knew exactly what I was talking about. We have become a nation of mean people. People who blow up over nothing and then walk smugly away from the smoldering ruins they caused.
Consideration of others? That's for stupid idiots, not them. If you are kind, you are a chump. Now admit it: Who does that sound like? Hint: That can't be his real hair.
We've all had these encounters.
Facebook friend Ellen Margolese described how she was at a concert recently, seated at the end of the front row directly in front of the bass speakers. The sound was loud enough to make her fillings vibrate, she said. The couple seated beside her had empty seats on either side of them where they had put their jackets. So at intermission, Margolese asked the man if he would move his coat so she could get away from the speaker. He refused, saying "we actually paid for these seats." Really? He bought two seats for his coats? "Who knows," wrote Margolese, "but it was hard not to spend the next hour ruminating on nasty comments to make to him on the way out. I ended up hoping karma would get him." Karma is pretty overtaxed these days.
Friend Whitney Mills was crossing in the pedestrian crosswalk at her local farmers' market that same Sunday, but apparently not fast enough for the driver who flipped her the finger over having to make the inconvenient choice of stopping or wearing Mills as a hood ornament. Another friend told me about the driver who mouthed profanities and gave her the finger for trying to inch into traffic. It was a "not in my lane you don't" moment, the kind we see all the time here in Los Angeles.
Is it really that hard to show kindness? As blogger Sandi Mann wrote on The Huffington Post, anger is pervasive in our culture today. People believe they have the right to get angry if their steak isn't cooked to perfection or if the guy behind them in the movie theater is making too much noise eating his popcorn. I've seen people lose it when the customer in front of them takes too long to write out a check in the grocery line. It's angry, angry, angry, all the time.
Why do we do this? Why do we run around so mad all the time? What's the harm in being nice to people? Peggy Scott blames "social media [for empowering] people to be more obnoxious." Another poster suggested that people who rely on social media are "accustomed to feeling detached from others, except through their devices. Real-world interaction has no meaning, carries no weight, no consequences. Another human being is just an object to be used or tossed aside."
Rude people are everywhere, although several Facebookers said pretentiousness and the attitude of entitlement go hand-in-hand with a few of the Whole Foods shoppers they know. Mary J. Wilson Collin notes that my encounter likely wouldn't have happened at Trader Joe's. "Trader Joe's customers have always been friendly," she said.
John Stodder Jr.'s advice was, of course, spot on the money. "[I] just finished Traffic School, where I learned that you need to just suppress the idea of sending assholes like that a message. Just let 'em go on their miserable merry way. You'll live longer, which is the best revenge. Remember, every morning these poor f---ers have to look in the mirror and who do they see? A horrible person. That's their karma, a daily reminder that they are who they are."
And reader Dorothy Reinhold's observation about the Whole Foods shopper made me laugh: "She needs more fiber," deadpanned Reinhold, a food blogger.
But the one response that resonated the loudest with me was from my old high school chum, Michael Botnick: "You got "Trumped!"
And I fear he's nailed it. After all, anger's first-cousin is self-absorption.
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