I am still shaking. Driving home from the kids’ tennis camp, I tried to get through the road construction project on Loop Road, the major thoroughfare that leads to our street. Apparently, I should have checked the Facebook page for updates on which roads had been closed while we were at the beach. But I didn’t. The morning rush got the best of me and I forgot that part of daily life these days involves checking a page to evaluate how to get in and our of our neighborhood. I certainly did not intend the drama that followed.
As I was driving 8 miles per hour to our street, a man in bright yellow jumped out in front of me- I think he was lost in his thoughts and got startled. Either way, whatever those thoughts may have been, he decided that me and the kids were trying to either a) kill him or b) “kill” his men. Micah quipped from the backseat, “Mommy, you can’t kill his men because they aren’t on the road”. I smiled and tried to keep a cool head. But our friend Don was still going on, ugly angry words frothing from his mouth.
When started Milla whimpering, I opened the window to answer his questions and affronts- “We’re just going home, sir. We live right there”. By this time, another local resident had pulled up behind me in a white truck and he was trying to get to his place. So I hopped out of the minivan and walked over to Don to try and explain that I was trying to get to our street. Maybe something about a 100-pound woman in flip-flops and granny glasses scares the bejeebies out of Don because he immediately started screaming at me. Every time I tried to get a word in, he threatened to call the police. I didn’t know whether to laugh to cry- the whole thing was so ridiculous and absurd.
THEN DON CALLED THE POLICE. I overheard him saying things like, “Yeah, Black Honda. Obstructing construction. A danger to herself and others…” I couldn’t BELIEVE what I was hearing him say- and I could feel the anger building. At this point, I was beginning to realize that our friend Don was quite the bully- the kind of man that treats human beings like obstructions or inconveniences.
Another tall man walked up and I asked him what was going on- he was friendly and explained that “Don is the owner of the company” as if that might account for his ugliness and hysteria. As if being the owner of the company recieving our tax dollars for this job excuses his rudeness to the people who fund his work.
I would have preferred if Don had been honest and just said, “Look lady, I don’t give a d*&% about you or your kids. Turn your car around and get off the road. I have way too much money to bother being nice to you.” Instead, he spouted off rude accusations and then kept me from replying by immediately calling the police. Maybe in his mind, Don was a victim of a world in which women were allowed to drive cars and didn’t stay in their “appropriate place”. Maybe he didn’t like the way I was dressed- shorts and a tank top rather than heels and a dress. I still don’t understand.
Now I may be petite and rather prone to avoiding conflict, but the scent of misogyny offends these nostrils more than any other scent. Should I wait, trembling, for the police to show up and explain to me what on earth was going on? Or should I try to drive through the ditch and remove my now-panicked little ones from a scene in which Don, who could not manage to speak politely, felt it necessary to call the police to do the cordial explaining for him? Wow. The worst part is that I know Don would have NEVER DARED to speak to me in such an ugly and disrespectful manner if my husband had been in the car.
After the white truck behind me moved, I did a three-point turn and drove around the backways to get to our street. My hands were still shaking and Max, by this point, was completely unnerved- “That man humiliated you, Mom. He looked at you like you were trash. It made me want to scream.” Micah, poor thing, was scared that the “police are going to get us”. I had to explain to her that we had not broken any laws and that I had not done anything which the police would have found to be criminal behavior.
But it was Milla who finally eased the tension by making us laugh: “Mommy, we read that man that book about bullies?” Crying in frustration, then laughing, I told her that he was not the kind of man who would appreciate being read a book about bullies. And then I took a deep breath and told the munchkins that no person was allowed to talk to them that way or treat them that way- that being a bully was wrong, no matter what the excuse. That police exist to protect us from criminals, not to call when we don’t feel like communicating kindly with others. That pointing a gun at someone who isn’t threatening you is careless and wrong. And then, to myself, under my breath, that being a disrepectful douchebag is just plain lame. And now, excuse me if I go cry to myself for a little while. I haven’t been treated like that since a drunk man stumbling down the street decided to verbally accost me during my college days.