Tag Archives: confrontation

Rattled

photo by Lianne
photo by Sean

I hope sharing this story doesn’t put you off, but I had some trouble last Friday…

It started okay… Went to lunch with my son and then went shopping in a warehouse hardware store for solar panel skylights to brighten the dark spots in the windowless central kitchen of my home.

All went well until I decided to get a cold drink from a stall outside while my son was still chatting to someone in the store, and the mature woman behind the counter saw fit to tell me I should be getting a diet drink because too much sugar was bad for me… So I had a small and uncomfortable interaction with her, as I explained that I could not drink diet drinks as the chemicals in them were bad for my fibromyalgia and attacked my muscles.

She instantly replied that sugar drinks were not good for diabetes, too – to which I retorted (a little annoyed) that I may be fat but I do not have diabetes, and sugar is all about moderation… And then my eyes wanted to roll back in my head when her response was to get upset that I was questioning her knowledge, and felt she had to declare that she taught the subject of sugar intake to teenagers.

(I held my tongue, then, because I have had years of study and working with nutrition, myself, and did not want to get into an argument on that level… but later I also remembered that people with diabetes should never drink diet drinks, anyway, because aspartame stuffs up the insulin cycle… For those who think I should have got water, by the way, there was none available).

That was the first rattle of the day, and I went to my car wondering how the heck someone could be so arrogant as to lecture a stray stranger that way, without any knowledge about them at all (and not even listening to the tidbits supplied)?

The drum rolls of the day were not finished, though, and later, as I was backing out of my carpark space I heard a massive ‘crunch‘.  Another car had met the rear corner of my car, backing out at the same time I was.

I’d barely been able to register what had happened when a woman was at my passenger window, yelling past the surprised face of my disabled son, saying that I wasn’t looking where I was going.

Well, I disagreed with that.  I am always extremely careful in shop carparks, because people don’t seem to care for their own welfare these days, and anyone can walk behind your car just as you’re moving.  So I’d been very careful to check before slowly backing out.

I thought it was completely clear, and was thoroughly surprised that an accident had happened – but immediately put it down to ‘missing something‘, because hey, I’m a fallible human being… But the woman did not even stop to take a breath as she continued to castigate me through the window.

I wound the window down, which allowed her to almost poke her head in, making her tirade worse – but I needed to ask her to move her car away from mine, because I’d tried to move back into my carpark, until I felt the extreme grab of her car in my bumper and knew more damage would be done if I pushed it.

The woman did not listen and kept claiming that the police needed to come, and that she would not move her car until they did.

Well, our cars were blocking both lanes of the entry and exit to front of the warehouse, so I explained to her that it was not a police matter because no one had been injured.

She kept ranting and raving, and it was quite obvious that she was a foreigner living in Australia because of her accent, and her attitude was extremely poor toward Australians, who she thought were all idiots.

This put my back up.  I have come across this sort of racism before from Europeans living in my country and it always pisses me off when I see or hear it (though I usually try not to respond to it).

I tend to wonder at people who think our country and services are good enough to come live in and use, but then abuse the people who have built it all up so they can enjoy them.  For me, you don’t go to another person’s ‘house‘ to stay and treat them like they are idiots in being generous enough to let you in.

(Plus, there is a bit of history in my reactions to this, as I married into a ‘foreign’ family, where my husband’s parents initially treated me as an inferior because I was Australian – third generation from immigrant Irish-Scottish-English-German farmers who were never convicts, actually – but born here, so my sire line apparently doesn’t count).

Despite my best efforts, I began to raise my own voice, (which was probably helped along by the previous ‘poking’ from the woman at the stall).

So, there were these two older women (me and her) in the carpark, blocking the traffic and yelling at each other across their cars… And into the fray came a young woman from the hardware store, trying to calm things down.

At first, I was happy with the intercession since she did tell the other woman that it was not a police matter, too… But the other woman continued to run me down, (not even knowing anything about me other than that our cars had connected), so I called her a ‘goon‘ in a fit of pique.  (I don’t know what ‘goon’ means elsewhere, but here it is slang for an idiot…)

For that, the young woman (who was barely the age of my grand-daughter) saw fit to harshly condemn and lecture me for calling the other woman names, and even for ‘yelling‘… And, boy, did that rile me, especially since she didn’t say a word against the absolute yelling from the other woman.

I told the young woman that I was not yelling… I was raising my voice and my tone was vehement, which was a natural reaction to being upset at the tirade plied against me and a normal expression of human nature …and if she wanted to hear yelling I could go a lot louder.

(Let’s face it, I come from a different generation, where people were allowed to show they were upset when they were upset, and where today’s attitudes of not being allowed to show it were not the rule.  When I was young, the idea was about curbing extremes and not being violent, not suppressing my human nature altogether…  My crowd grew up with a right to be pissed off, so long as you didn’t hurt anyone).

She rolled her eyes and looked stony as I added that ‘If you want to calm things down you don’t lecture people because that is always going to escalate things’.  After which, she walked off, and I went back to my car to get my phone to call my husband, muttering ‘lectured by a 20 year old!’

Now, I wasn’t happy with having ‘lost the plot‘ a bit, myself.  It wasn’t how I’d wanted my day to go.  I just wanted to get the insurance details and go home, but the other woman refused to give me anything, despite my writing all my own details down for her and handing her the piece of paper.

At every step she was in my face, abusive and degrading with her language and attitude, and it was all I could do to get the job that needed to be done, done… and in the end, my mouth let rip the unthinkable, as I told her to go back to Germany !

Her instant reply was that she did not come from Germany, and so (on a roll by then) I shot back – well, Lithuania, Sedetenland, Czechoslovakia, take your pick! (And got some slight satisfaction from seeing the smiles on the faces of some nearby observers as I did that)… It was not a moment to be proud of.

I’ve spent a lifetime hating bigotry and criticizing people who speak like that to others, and in one fell swoop I joined the ranks of those I had previously condemned.

I did try to calm things down a bit toward the end of our meeting, by saying to her that we were both quite obviously extremely upset because this sort of thing didn’t happen very often for us, and we were struggling to figure out how to deal with it.

I had never had an accident like this before, and said so… but her immediate response was to say that she had never had an accident before, but I had obviously had plenty.  It was such an aggressively negative stance and a ‘below the belt shot in the dark’, (probably based in hurt, and maybe I was to blame for that).

When I did finally get her written details, I had to immediately question the letters and numbers she’d written, because there were unreadable squiggles in parts, and where she had written the numbers 9 and 4 in one way, she had written them backwards in another section.

I fixed the mistakes but kept wondering throughout the day thereafter just how a person can do that ?  If she had written all her numbers the same way, or all letters as the same squiggles, I could understand it – but to change them like that was extremely odd.  I wondered then if perhaps she was having a medical crisis which I hadn’t been aware of.

She may have had a minor stroke… It would have explained her instant road rage, too.

When I finally left the carpark, I was on one hand happy that I had put two aggressive and demeaning older women in their ‘place‘ (blame my celtic warrior ancestors for that), and on the other hand my gut was churning because I had not been able to keep my cool as I usually do and maintain enough detachment to stay objective.

By ‘spitting chips‘ of racism, myself, telling her to ‘go back to where she came from‘, the words of some of the bigoted people I grew up associating with had poured from my mouth, after years of not wanting to be associated with that type of bigotry as an adult…  It was not a high point in my history, and certainly did the reputation of my Australian peers no good.

I have to admit that I am human enough to have had other episodes of upset in my life, especially when my pride was hurt or I was under attack.  It’s not a regular occurrence, but it has happened, and there are those who always look for potholes in your road and make sure you’re condemned for having them… (I’m sensitive enough to self-castigate.  I don’t need anyone else to do it for me).

With the modes I’ve developed all my life, I strive to be a more calm and spiritually oriented being, these days, and it really hurts my heart when I fall down.

I would much rather have found a way to deal with either of those women with calm and soothing so that they interacted better, and I have actually done so with others many times in the past… (You can’t deal effectively with the large groups of people in the organizations I was associated with back then by being that volatile and personally invested)… But on this day, my responses didn’t even let me really put my brain ‘in gear.

Well, I could go on being ashamed of myself and self-castigating, and I could wallow in that to the degree that I eventually undermine all the past beauty and light I have truly established, and perhaps I could undermine all I may have established in the future, too, if I let such castigation go on too long…

Which brings me to the unassailable fact that no matter how ‘spiritual‘ any of us are, in truth spirituality is an aspiration and an ever-evolving life path, and is not set in stone… And such moments happen to even the most enlightened beings. (Read my comments in a previous post, ‘Reality).   We are human, too, and we all have ‘off‘ days.

Nevertheless, I spent a very disturbed night on Friday, and again all day and night on Saturday, going over my own actions and responses.

It wasn’t so much that I felt wrong in being upset or offended by the behavior of those two women, but that I was upset at myself that I could not hold it so well together and maintain my own calm under such attacks.

Maybe I didn’t get physical but words do hurt, and I was as guilty as they were, in doing that, that day.

For me, too, knowing the power of words, it was almost a sin –  because my words were like an idle curse.

My son took many photos on the day, of the damage to the cars and the position of the accident connection. It was only after I saw those photos that I realized I was not in the wrong (as a driver) at all.

The other woman had come from a carpark diagonally opposite to mine and instead of swinging backward into the exit lane behind her car, had zoomed way across the dividing line into the entry lane behind my car.

My first thought was ‘She’s going to get one heck of a shock when she finds out she’ll be the one paying for all this‘.

My second thought was to wonder if she was okay, because maybe she had had a medical crisis that caused that weird event.

My third thought was to actually relent a little in forgiveness toward those I had grown up with, for their bigotry, because maybe they, too, had been ‘letting rip‘ from a point of wounding (though theirs was more of a constant throughout their lives).

We are human, and I’m sorry that I did not behave so well in the face of fire that day, but now I need to let it go and remember who I am and what I really stand for.

It was, after all, only a moment in a lifetime of much different behavior… This is what I often find it hard to explain to some who say that if I behave like an errant human being at times, then I am not living up to my spiritual aspirations – or, actually, as they have deemed, being the spiritual being I portray myself as.

When I aspire to be spiritual, I never think of myself as perfect.   Indeed, I don’t think of any part of life as perfect, apart from in the idylls of my mind, because for me we were never made to be perfect.

We were made as artworks in the mind of the divine, and most artworks are flawed and even assymetrical.  Artworks have personality, and are not taken piecemeal, but as the whole.  In that whole, they are beautiful, attractive, and inspiring – but if you were to pick them apart, you’d find enough flaws, if you wanted to look for them.

To me, life is Art, and I am part of an artwork.  Maybe I am flawed and not as beautiful as I aspire to be all the time, but in general I think I hold up pretty well.  As do most of us.

That day held some lessons for me, taken from insights and thoughtful dwelling.

Every time anyone slips up, that sort of opportunity is there to help us grow, to expand in awareness, and to at least have some compassion for ourselves as we try to cope with the less salubrious elements of life, at the minimum.

From another point of view, as an astrologer, it was ultimately interesting to realize that transiting Mars is conjunct transiting Pluto in my Third House in Capricorn right now, bringing about possible aggression in my local environment, communications, and commercial interactions, and triggering my birth chart Pluto opposite the Moon position that has always caused me some trouble with women whose nature is a tad dominating and overpersonal.

On the positive side, that same air of aggravation is blowing sparks in an extremely wonderful way in the romance department with my hubby of late… (Both he and I are highly ruled by Pluto, since he has a Scorpio Midheaven and I have Scorpio Rising).

There are always two sides to everything. 🙂

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