Last Saturday I was picking up Patty at the door of our local Wal-Mart when I saw a grocery cart stall out right in the middle of the very busy main lane of the parking lot.
The guy in the car in front of me, yells out, “So, you’re just gonna leave it there? What are you thinking? What’s the matter with you? Idiot!”
As I was returning from properly parking our empty cart, I grabbed the errant cart and deposited into the corral of cart correctness.
Am raging about the stupidity of the person who launched the cart into the lane of traffic or the person who screamed at him about it. Both. All it would take to resolve the great dilemma of the errant cart is 30 seconds and a few functioning brain cells.
Later that evening, we joined my son’s family in celebrating our daughter-in-law’s birthday at a very popular suburban Chicago seafood restaurant. She was twenty-nine again. The girls were inside, but my son and I were still outside, having just parked the car. Nearby, a car pulled in beside a car that was pulling out and we heard that awful sound sheet metal scraping and creasing.
One guy jumped out of his late model crossover and began yelling, You hit my f….ing car. The other guy quickly responded after jumping out of his late model crossover, You hit my f…ing car. They continue to f…ing scream at each other. Then the lady in one of the cars also starts screaming that there are kids in the car and they shouldn’t be screaming like that. So, now there were three people screaming! It went on and on. I thought the two guys would come to blows.
I get the adrenalin-fueled knee jerk reaction that tries to get us to run one way or the other, depending on how we size up the threat. But I am thinking all would be resolved with a conversation something like this, “Man, you hit my car. The police will not investigate on private property, let’s exchange information and we can get this sorted out with the insurance companies tomorrow.” Then take a picture with your phone and eat your dinner.
So, what’s with all of the anger? Do we feel that people are out to get us? Is it a reflection of economic hard times and the accompanying stress? Is it a carryover of the partisan rancor of our politics and media? Is it the result of being kicked around one too many times? Is it a total breakdown of cultural ethos that considers a new level of acted out rage to be acceptable?