Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Humbling of an Asshole

For those of you who have known me for more than a few hours, this should come as no surprise: I can be a real asshole at times. Particularly when I am angry, which doesn't happen as much as it used to or as much as some people seem to think. What usually angers me most is rude and of obnoxious behavior from others, directed towards me or others. In other words, asshole behavior in others brings out the asshole behavior in me.

It doesn't happen all the time. It depends -- Kind of like a wild grizzly who might tolerate a person one day, but attack the next. I'm certain it has a lot to do with their mood, and mine.

The other day I was in one of those moods, and was then provoked.

A guy in a big huge truck came right up behind my Subaru and started riding my ass, within inches it seemed. And his rig was jacked up so high that his lights shone right through my back window. It made me think of one of those movie scenes in which an alien ship descends on a car and lights the whole thing up. And then he lays on the horn. Bright lights and loud noises is a bad, sometimes volatile mix for me.

I had stopped behind a line of traffic backed up from a red traffic light, and backed up so far that I could not get into the left turning lane, even when the left-turn green arrow started blinking and everyone within that lane had turned. But a white car blocked my freedom.

Which bugs me. A lot. I remember my dad showing me places along the Connecticut coast and tell me things like, "See that subdivision there? That used to be a salt marsh where we went skinny-dipping, caught crabs, and fished for snapper blues." And now here I am, 40 years later, stuck in traffic where, just to the left of me (where the Home Depot and the mega, multi-movie-theater complex now is -- along with a mega chunk of earth now sealed off by concrete and asphalt) is where I used to hunt pheasants, ducks, geese, and white tailed deer when I first moved here.

And this is where the guy is riding my ass. Bright lights and loud noise. So I do what I've done numerous times before; I get out of my car and walk back to have a chat with the obnoxious asshole. Usually they roll their windows up or keep them up, lock the doors, and yell through the glass things such as, "What, are you crazy? Get back in your car." I usually respond with things such as, "Come on, please, just lay off -- back off and be nice. Okay?"

Which is exactly what I sad to the ass-riding, horn-honking asshole while holding up traffic near the box stores and parking lots where I used to hunt. Most the time people respond by saying things such as, "Okay, okay, I'm sorry, now get back in your car." And so I do, and that is that.

Until the other day.

This guy didn't do that. He told me to "fuck off," and then flipped on his high-beams and laid harder on the horn. Bright lights and loud noise. Then I say, "Wow, you really are an asshole." He opens his truck door, leans out, and says, "What the fuck did you just call me." This about the time when the asshole in me emerged. I walked up to him and yelled, "You're a fucking asshole, now stop!"
He punched me. Hard. And he had a hell of a punch. My glasses cut into my eye. I was totally unprepared for that; I was caught off guard. I was shocked and awed. I responded with violence.

Which bugs me. A lot. Once, not so long ago, I took a court-ordered anger-management class. The instructor was awesome, if not harsh, and called me on (and made me aware of) my bullshit.

"Ah, so you're the savior, you're going to confront all rude behavior in the world and put an end to it," he would say. "And we can thank you for that?"

But they deserve it; there should be consequences for their actions.

"And you have appointed yourself judge, jury and executioner?"

But sometimes I can't help myself, I can't control myself.

"Oh bullshit, Dave. You have full control of your behavior, but you're turning that control over to them -- you're letting them control you!"

Ouch! I hate being controlled.

And so it happened again. I let the ass-riding, horn-honking asshole control me. He called my bluff. I met my match. Christine Stalling has long told me to stop doing this crap. "Someday you're going to do that to someone as crazy as you and it won't work out like you hope." As always, she was right.

It turns out he is a fellow Marine. Much younger; maybe 25, or 30. A good-looking guy, with a hell of a punch, and a temper. He seemed like an asshole.

Just like me.

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