08 August 2019

Attack or defend

When I drive to or from work I come past a bit of road where you can't pass each other due to parked cars. The south bound cars technically have priority, but that's not much use; in order to keep traffic flowing, you need to take turns. So normally, the south bound cars let rows of north bound cars through. It tends to work well.

One day I drove home (south bound); when I approached the bottleneck it was the other side's turn. I kept some generous distance so they didn't have to squeeze past. But when I wanted to go after that, some impatient person jumped the queue, and I had to let another stream past. Annoying! Then it was my turn again. I started driving, but some ill-informed lady on the other side started driving as well. She may have seen the people earlier on and figured you can just drive at will. She looked a bit oblivious! Not ill-meaning, but it was annoying anyway. I stopped. And I saw I couldn't reverse as the cars behind me had followed me. I hoped the cars on the other side would not to the same but they did, so even if the confused lady would have noticed what was going on and had tried to back out, she couldn't have. I could do nothing but be resigned to wait until they had all squeezed past. By this time, it really was a case of squeezing.

The woman wormed past, clearly unaware of what she had caused. Some more cars followed. Then a car approached of which the driver rolled the window down. When he passed me he hurled abuse at me. The bastard! But of course he was gone in an instant. Here I am, being polite to a fault, and then you get this. Getting abuse isn't fun at any time but when the situation they are angry about it not your fault, and the wronged party is actually you and not them, it is worse. I am glad I can't remember what exactly he shouted.

That sort of thing gets to me. More than it should. And I pondered why it gets to me so much. And I engaged in some utter armchair psychology but I think I'm on to something. I was born into a not entirely smooth-running family as the youngest kid. Tempers flared, and everybody was always older, bigger and better educated then me! (The education has evened out after we all left home, of course, but that was no solace to Primary School Me.) And combined with a non-confrontational personality, I developed a strategy of just trying to please everyone, or at least not draw attention to myself. I know I'm still doing it! I already made a very subtle reference to this when I wrote about me sorting out the dissertation module, in which I have to tell practically all the staff what to do. This so doesn't come naturally to me at all! So I know nobody likes to be insulted but here it was, in a way, a philosophical insult. I did what I do to keep out of trouble and it fails. And I could have reciprocated, but I'm never automatically in assertive setting; I need to pretty much manually switch that on. This man clearly didn't work that way; unhindered by any insight into the situation he just took it out on someone convenient. And what did he take out? He had to squeeze past my car. Sure, that would ruin anybody's day. This probably was some chap who grew up in a situation where attack is the best defence. Not the best person for me to encounter!

And who would be better off in the long run? I'm sure I have the advantage of more pleasant encounters. If your default setting is polite, more encounters develop that way. But the unpleasant ones are undoubtedly more unpleasant for me. This man seems belligerent by default so clearly doesn't mind confrontation. And he has his defences up. Mine only get up after the damage is done! This is not the first time. Oh well. I do wish this man ends up being blocked while south-bound the next time he drives there. But I don't wish his likely response on anyone!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"This probably was some chap who grew up in a situation where attack is the best defence. Not the best person for me to encounter!"

You know you are friends with someone like that for almost 26 years? ;-)