Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Joy of Apoplexy



Here's a rhetorical question for you: Why do people choose to be nasty when it's far more effort than a simple neutrality?

Today was laundry day, my least favorite chore because although I am quite fond of clean clothing, sheets and towels, I don't have laundry machines and must go to a public launderette to do it. Usually this involves double parking while I unload my three overflowing baskets, driving home to put the car in the garage and jogging back to the launderette. When it's finished, I reverse the process. Today, however, I found a parking space on the same street, got out three times while inching back and forth to ensure that I was not blocking the driveway on either end of my car, and went to do the dirty. (Clothes:)

While I carried my baskets to the car afterward, a man yelled at me, stating that he couldn't get into his driveway, which unless he was driving a doublewide Hummer, was untrue. My car is considered a compact - I am always directed to the compact vehicle level at a public garage I visit often.

He waved his cell phone at me. "I didn't call the police but I will," he threatened. I didn't say anything because I was arranging my baskets sideways on the back seat of my car. "Do I see an evil look?" he bellowed. This was exceedingly doubtful as he couldn't see my face at all, but it's possible that my butt was giving him the stink eye. I can't control that.

I remained silent, which apparently enraged him. "Do you want me to call the police?" he asked. "DO YOU?"

"Why don't you?" I said. "I'm not doing anything wrong." His garage door was open. I could see two Mercedes, an Escalade, a Maserati and a Ferrari (red) inside. His house looked anything but impoverished but he doesn't own the street in front of it. His wife once screamed at me when I parked there, too. They seem to spend a lot of time patrolling their perimeters to make sure nobody parks in front of their house. The normal expectation of such perfect privacy is nil in a city since it requires a few hundred acres of land as a buffer between the homeowner and the rest of humanity. I wondered why a person who clearly has a very luxurious life would enjoy bullying someone who was no threat to him or his considerable property. But my reverie didn't last long because the man was still yelling at me. I think he wanted me to get on my knees and beg for mercy. He demanded to know if it would happen again because he is very friendly with the entire San Francisco police force and they'll put me in jail.

I shrugged. "It won't happen again," I said and drove off. I have been feeling perfectly horrible ever since, partly because I really and truly hate being yelled at, especially when I have committed no crime, but even more, I think, because I'm sure he took my statement as an admission of guilt.

I have meditated on this and while it's impossible to know what cross he is bearing, he has no idea what I might be dealing with either. To escalate to full bore rage in seconds is unhealthy for both the angry person and his target. Since I was the target, I found the whole thing immensely upsetting. Hours later, I am still feeling the aftermath of his anger and my reactive anger when it would have been just as easy to share a smile, or not to interact at all.

We really are all in this karmic soup together, so I have to ask myself what ill will I have put out into the world to bring this ill will upon myself because somewhere, at some time, I must have treated someone as badly as that man treated me, even if I can't remember it. We cannot change others but we can and should commit to changing ourselves. The only way to improve our experience in the world is to be vigilant of our own actions so that we don't cause another pain because sooner or later, those chickens come home to roost. And when they do, our world becomes an ugly place for us and everyone around us.

52 comments:

nick said...

You're in no way to blame, karmically or otherwise, for his anger. It's no doubt either a product of his childhood or it's genetic. He's just one of those super-angry people who blows up 100 times a day at anything at all. I feel sorry for anyone who's forced into regular proximity with him. But the good news is, with an anger like that he'll probably be felled by a heart attack a few years down the line.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Some people are just toxic. I think it helps to think that their toxicity impacts themselves most. Their's will be the shorter life and should be pitied.

C said...

some people are SO unhappy within, they become a rage machine lashing out at whomever they can despite any credebility of reason. they are SO unhappy, even with all of the money it appears he has... that he still finds the need to bully you. you cant change people like them... however you CAN change what you do about it and how you react to it. i try to avoid confrontation, i hate it. i also try to pray for and ask god to bless the person in question. that, my friend, is a sweeter revenge than anything else and it sets you free from the negetivity he has bestowed upon you. release it into the wind as you dont deserve to let it have power over you. as far as feeling like a fool cuz he may have thought you admitted guilt, pffft, consider it a gift to an already very unhappy person. maybe it will somehow help whatever reason he is raging in the first place.

take care, friend..
you are a good person.
with a shitload of laundry!
bwahhahahahahahah

c

TechnoBabe said...

It isn't set in concrete that when someone reacts to us badly that we must be getting our due. It could just be that this man behaves this way all the time, this is his MO. He has no care for others. Maybe he gets off on the way other people throw themselves at his mercy, but maybe because you remained calm and did not bow down to him there might be a tiny crack and some teensy bit of light might be let in his dense butthead.

thailandchani said...

He sounds like an absolute nut! The whole thing with reacting to people like that is that we never know whether he has a gun in his belt. He probably didn't.. but just as well to not respond the way we'd like to.. which is to tell him to commit an unnatural act on himself and leave him standing. He sounds like the type of person who is accustomed to bullying everyone in his midst. I don't feel in the least bit sorry for him because he certainly wouldn't do that with someone his own size. He'd get his ass kicked!



~*

Bob said...

why would you take responsibility for his behavior by thinking you deserved it, that you must have done something bad to someone else in the forgotten past?

Let him take responsibility for being a shit.

You get to take responsibility for not responding in kind. For taking the higher road.

Don't feel bad about the "It won't happen again" - who cares what he thinks.

And - don't let him win by agonizing over this anymore. That's just perpetuating his bad energy.

You did good. Think about that, instead.

secret agent woman said...

It would have been very difficult for em not to tell him to fuck off, but I think that would be unwise. he was itching for a fight and you have no way of knowing what further ugliness he'd be willing to visit on you. But he soudns liek a miserable soul, which is the way people like that tend to be. Pathetic.

meno said...

Prick.

Little prick.

Whatever he had going on for him to react that way had nothing to do with you.

Sometimes i wish it was legal to shoot jerks.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nick,

He is definitely a candidate for stroke or heart attack, or murder if he vents his rage on the wrong person.

Calvin,

I do believe that toxicity takes a toll on its owner. I have seen evidence of it in my life among people I knew.

C,

Driving away, I was so angry that I asked God to give everyone what they deserved. I left the details to Her.

I hate confrontation, too, even though sometimes it's necessary, which is why I didn't respond until he goaded me into it. So very unpleasant.

Babe,

I hope you're right. The guy badly needs enlightening. He is an overgrown playground bully with all the toys.

Chani,

It occurred to me that in a less affluent neighborhood, at least one of us might have been carrying a gun. Strangely, the guy wasn't an old geezer. He was in his 40's. A young geezer. Very precocious to be that nasty already at such a young age. Normally, it takes time to develop so much hostility.

Bob,

I was trying to parse it from the Buddhist POV. I feel guiltless about my parking job, but can't be sure how I've behaved in previous lifetimes.

Agent,

I can be a hothead, but I try to control such impulses because they escalate situations which are better left to die of attrition.

Meno,

Oh, I hope not because jerkdom is in the eye of the beholder.

Whitney Lee said...

Well shit. If I have behaved half as poorly in my past lives as I have at times in this one, I'm in for a boatload of more difficulty. Oh well, such is life.

Have you ever noticed that there are simply some people who enjoy their anger? They hold it close and feed it and encourage it, much as one would a pet. It is often something comfortable and they are loath to let it go. Perhaps this lovely gentleman is one of those?

DavidShag said...

It has been my observation that people who come into money, whether suddenly or slowly, no matter how deserved or undeserved it is, seem to become obsessed with the idea that everyone is trying to take it away from them. I think it must be rooted in some suspicion that they don't really deserve it. They rail against welfare, taxes, and people who park in fromnt of their houses. I guess they think that if they just enjoy it, the spell will be broken and the money taken by karma or an angry god or whatever. I would SO have had him call the cops - in fact if it happens again, why not call 911 yourself and complain that a man is behaving in a threatening manner toward you? Wow, you could park between driveways in SF? You are blessed with more than laundry. The only way I found to do that was to buy an MG Midget. Which I did.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Whitney,

Thank you for a much-needed laugh, and for your visit here.

And you're right - some people revel in their rage.. it's almost as if without it they wouldn't exist. This is a good time to reflect on the purple cow:

"I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one.
But this I will say anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one."

David,

My high school boyfriend had an old (very old) MGTD in which we used to load 11 or 12 people and go to the beach.

Most of the street parking in SF is not suitable for anything larger than your car or a motorcycle, but people insist on blocking our driveway all the time with SUV's and pickup trucks. The guy was lucky it was only a Toyota Camry which was NOT blocking access.

I actually thought about calling the police on him, as you suggested, after my adrenalin settled a bit. Next time I will, and I'm sure there will be a next time because his house is near the launderette I use.

There are many people around here who seem to have lots of money and no apparent job, so I suspect the jobs were held by their ancestors.

Jocelyn said...

I wonder about the vagaries of karma. That is, maybe you were karmically free in a moment of HIS karma--of his feeling anger over something in a previous life. Maybe his payoff for that required a blank slate to dump upon, you being that slate.

He wanted and needed your anger. That's the point of hollering at someone--it's what you desire in return. You denied him what he wanted. I like that a great deal.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jocelyn,

Or maybe his Ferrari got keyed. Because he's such a nice guy. Or he was out of food for his pit vipers. Or perhaps the genital enlargement surgery didn't work.

You really think I'm a blank slate?

Cecilieaux said...

Had something similar happen in my block. Nasty older people. Retired. Nothing else to do.

I said: "You don't own the street and if I see a scratch on my car I'll know exactly where to send the police." Walked away.

Lesson: make sure you age well.

Laura Lee said...

Two things:
1- who says you have to wait for the dreaded 'next time?' subset a)call the police yourself and tell them the man repeatedly harasses patrons; and b)call the owner of the establishment, for heaven's sake! and tell them you know people like yourself who are/may be taking their biz elsewhere and why.
2- you sound a lot like me in your other posts, so I'm thinking since I'd react much the same way, you're feeling the resultant 'why did I say that instead of so many other reactions I could have taken' - believe me it doesn't make it any easier to dwell =o( -you are feeling a loss of personal power. Taking positive action helps me, I think you should call someone mentioned above. See if that helps.

Next time try something silly, like giving him the ol' "I'm rubber you're glue" routine. Make it into the childish thing that it is.

Warty Mammal said...

I am so sorry. Interactions like that are incredibly stressful and debilitating. Really, there's nothing you could have said or done to make it better. You handled that situation very well, as well as it could have been. He was simply a very angry person dead set on being a jerk, neither of which has anything to do with you.

I suspect that fellow will die early. I'm guessing that boozing it up and a heavy smoking habit go with the fleet of cars and anger management issues.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cecil,

Except this guy was younger than I am. Does that mean I'm aging well, I hope?

I'm pretty sure the sweet little old lady and the kindly elder gentleman are myths, though.

Laura Lee,

I'm rubber, you're glue, and yer mama wears army boots. That should tell HIM all right.

I wanted to call the police on him but I have a new cell phone and haven't figured out how to use it yet. (Yes, it's sad but true.)

Warts,

Now if someone could set him and his nasty wife to fighting, they just might kill each other and put all of us out of their misery.

Meanwhile, his dickdom is still assured.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cecil,

Except this guy was younger than I am. Does that mean I'm aging well, I hope?

I'm pretty sure the sweet little old lady and the kindly elder gentleman are myths, though.

Laura Lee,

I'm rubber, you're glue, and yer mama wears army boots. That should tell HIM all right.

I wanted to call the police on him but I have a new cell phone and haven't figured out how to use it yet. (Yes, it's sad but true.)

Warts,

Now if someone could set him and his nasty wife to fighting, they might just kill each other and put all of us out of their misery.

Let's just say that his dickdom is still assured.

Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo said...

I have experienced people like that. We take it personally when they turn their venom on us, but the truth is, they are venomous to everyone. It's really quite pathetic.

Someone once told me that people like that have to live with themselves 24 hours a day, whereas we only have to deal with them for mere minutes. He is poisoning his own body, don't let him poison yours too.

(That previous deleted comment was me. I had about a million typos in it. *heh*)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jo,

That is wonderful advice, which I'll try to remember the next time something like this happens. Thank you!

the walking man said...

Care to share the address of this boob? I have some rage of my own to blow out into the cosmos still.

Molly said...

So glad you took the high road, and didn't respond to this jerk in kind! Jo is right. He has to live with himself twenty four seven. So does his wife, though it sounds like they're a matched pair. People like this just prove that wealth doesn't bring happiness.
I think you are aging very gracefully.
This guy is to be pitied: no class, no grace, no empathy, no humour,and worst of all, no balls. What kind of guy does this to a sweet little person like you? Don't waste another minute of your life on him....

mischief said...

I think that when they run out of mean things to say to each other, they have to fuel up by being mean to other people for a bit. It gives them strength to get back to being mean to each other, and reminds them, briefly, of why they married in the first place.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mark,

I strongly suspect he would not have vented on you because he's a bully - he looks for those he could beat in a fight.

Molly,

I'm not sure I took the high road - I just drove off on the road at hand.

Once you get into the mind-set that wealth brings happiness, there is always more wealth, more stuff, more potential "happiness" you don't yet have, which makes you miserable. It's an endless cycle.

The singer Pearl Bailey once said,"I've been rich and I've been poor, and let me tell you -- rich is better." I think that's clearly the case unless you let it rule your life and every passing person is perceived as a threat to your security.

Mischief,

I simply adore your comment, which made me laugh in delight.

The truest things are often said in jest, and you are a very wise woman.

Thank you for your visit!

Maria said...

When things like this happen, I have to tell myself that this person must have lots of anger and pain in his or her life. Happy, well balanced people don't act like that.

And I think you behaved well. I just know that I would have started snickering at him and then he probably would have come charging at me with a baseball bat.

seventh sister said...

I guess you could have said that you would call the police if he didn't back off, but that would have been engaging him. He seems to have his own problems and it is too bad that you got the blame for his unhappiness.

mrwriteon said...

You should have marched smartly into the garage and 'keyed' the Ferrari. He deserves nothing less. Give him a reason to really call the cops.

But, don't feel bad, dear friend. I am a great believer in karma. Just wait.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Maria,

Are there any happy, well balanced people? Really? Do you know any?

I'm in trouble, aren't I?

Sister,

Next time, I'll rent a semi and park it in front of his house. Or maybe an armored tank, which I will drive OVER his house.

See how easily bad stuff spreads?

Ian,

Yes, replacing his Ferrari would definitely put all my other problems in perspective. Assuming I lived through it, of course.

rhubarbwhine said...

Some people are just plain not right with anything. The change has to come within thm Sad but true.

LittlePea said...

OH! This is why I HATE laundry mats. This man obviously wasn't doing laundry but this post reminds me of kind of weird stuff would always happen to me when I had to use them. Once I had a genius idea to put my clothes in the dryer(s) and go to the cafe next door for lunch. I came back to find all my dryer doors open and all my underwear gone. Yup. Not my husband's, just mine. What a disgusting feeling to know that someone's nasty fingers actually sorted through every article of clothing I had just to steal my underwear. Gross.

This man you encountered is clearly unhappy and I always try to feel sorry for hateful ones such as him. It makes it easier. But I too have spent time feeling crappy because of encounters like that. Usually and especially if I felt I didn't stick up for myself. At the same time, what's the point? People like that never learn from reciprocity anyway.....

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Rhubarb,

Yes, we are all responsible for our own behavior, whether we like it or not.

Sweet Pea,

Ewww. That's just disgusting. It creates images I would rather not see.

As for my incident, you put your finger on it - I felt bad because I didn't stick up for myself. I can rationalize that he might have shot me if I had, but it doesn't help that much. How do I hate launderettes? Let me count the ways.

mischief said...

He: I loathe you.

She: I loathe you more!

He: You're a horrid old bat.

She: You're a rotten foul breathed monster.

He: Well you're a... umm... I mean you're a bloody... oh hell... you're a ...

She: I'm a what?

He: Shut up a minute and let me think.

She: Think? Think? Tell me what I am right this minute or I shall lose all respect for you!

He: I'm going outside to get a breath of air, leave me alone woman.

She: (cackles maniacally)

(He races outside, red faced and desperate to think of a new insult, spots Heart at her car and unleashes the fury)

(He, finding comfort in Heart's discomfort is reassured of his skill and ability with vileness)

He: (racing back inside) You're a horrid old bat!!!

She: You just said that, fool. Haven't you got anything else?

He: Oh dear. One moment, let me see who else is out there.

She: Don't bother, it's all the same. You know I hate you.

He: And I you.

She: Darling.

He: Sweetheart.

She: I loathe you, love.

He: And I you, my pet.

(curtain)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mischief,

Wow. I've never had a guest blogger before. I'm so glad it's you! Love it. Please post here anytime.

We all need reassurance of our skill with vileness now and then, that we've still got "it." I don't feel good about having been part of that fun couple's foreplay, though. Can you say "creepy," children? I knew you could.

mischief said...

Guest blogger? Yikes, no! That wasn't my intent at all and I'm sorry for being so presumptuous... I just find myself rather taken with this story and have enjoyed far too much developing some characters who I may have to steal now and write a play about... Do you want to play yourself when it hits Broadway? Of course you'll get full credit for idea conception and half the production royalties.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mischief,

There was nothing presumptuous about writing something hilarious for my considerable delectation. Are you familiar with Albee's play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" It's the quintessential unhappy marriage drama. Your little skit has a kind of English drawing room comedy feel, almost Oscar Wilde-ish. And yes, I would like to play myself.. I am a former actor who only got as close to the Great White Way as Off Broadway. You will have to write better lines for me than I did myself, though. And no "Exit, slinking," please.

mischief said...

I LOVE Edward Albee and also Harold Pinter! Oh lady, now you're in for it... you're talking to a Drama teacher here! So glad you're going to play yourself and that you already have the training. I won't have to turn myself blue shouting directions at you, "Slink, dammit! I said **slink**!!!!"

Jason said...

This is a great site you have here. I found it from a friend's site. I have a blog myself which attempts to bring inspiration and guidance to people all around the world. I was wondering if we could do a link exchange so we can spread some traffic around between each other.

Jason
TheWISDOMWALL.com

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mischief,

You're a drama teacher! Wow. Most of my friends are merely drama queens.

So now that we've settled the slink issue, we should probably discuss the star makeup trailer, the team of ubiquitous massage therapists, and of course, the pay. I'll have my people call your people.

Jason,

Welcome! I would love to check out your blog, but I never do a link exchange as such. I simply add links to sites I enjoy, some of which also link to mine and others do not.

I'm delighted that you've visited here and hope you'll return.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

You know, the Laundry Fairy is going to kick his ass.

His socks will lose their mates, his underwear will turn pink when that red holiday cloth napkin secretly finds its way into *that* load, all of his long shirt sleeves will shrink up just enough to look weird, the dryer sheet will hide under his collar in a clandestine manner, until he is somewhere important and then it will sneak out the back and hang free where everyone but he can see it.
His newly pink undies will chaffe him, and he will have static cling for eternity.

This is what comes of wickedness to our Hearts, when she is acosted on laundry day for no reason. The Laundry Fairy will dispatch his evil karma back to him with tremendous force in great haste, and you will be redeemed.

So sayeth Scarlett.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Scarlett,

Except that due to the recession, the Laundry Fairy has been forced to work double shifts as the Tooth Fairy and also the Parking Nazi and has limited time to do those good works for beleaguered laundresses. She has even been asked to help out the Easter Bunny, and Santa's Elves have made overtures which thus far she has ignored.

But from your lips to Her ear, darlin'. Maybe she would like to do a little pro bono work since it's the holiday season and all that...

Sienna said...

Heartsy

We make beautiful karmic soup too!

I do not know why folk can get around and be so actively miserable, I suspect complex problem and many reasons.

Life is so brief to do the nailbed tapdance thingy.

More importantly I wanted to drop by and say hello-g'day.

The sun is shining after many cloudy days rain is forecast. I so love the rain.

Much love from Pam-who-just-met-HH-the-Dalai-Lama, well, heard him speak. To be exact.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Pam!

It's you. It really IS you!!! How wonderful.

You're so right. We can choose to make our lives beautiful, or to tapdance on nails. It really isn't so much our circumstances but what we create with them.

And being in the presence of HH the Dalai Lama is surely "meeting" him - his incredible energy, warmth and divine goodness. It doesn't surprise me that it is your karma to have this connection.

I love rain, too. It sustains and nourishes us and makes us flower when the sun comes out. I'm SO glad you're back, Girlfriend. I've missed you terribly.

Love,
Susan

Sienna said...

I am sorry I didn't drop by to say why I sort of disappeared, some of my family have been notsowell and some other things.

We all get curveballs huh.

Hope you guys are going ok anyway.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Pam,

I'm so sorry to hear this. I don't want to intrude but you have my email address -- what can I do to help?

xo

On a limb with Claudia said...

Karmic soup, yes we are all in it together. Weird isn't it? We believe we are so separate. Yet, we are so interconnected.

I am sorry, however, that I'm connect to everyone. Some people are just assholes. I'm sorry you have met your fair share.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Claudia,

While I know that the worst people we meet are our greatest teachers, sometimes it's impossible to recognize the divinity in them as in "the light within me honors the light within you." Sometimes I just object to the whole system.

Franki said...

I personally like voodoo for these kinds of folks. You are much nicer than I!

Happy Holidays Susan!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Franki,

Not nicer at all -- I just didn't have my pins with me. What can I say? I wasn't prepared. I flunked out of Boy Scouts, too.

Warty Mammal said...

Hi Heart - hope you and Flip are well.

Don't know if you celebrate Christmas, but if so, happy Christmas! Otherwise, happy "brief cessation from Christmas advertising" day!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Warts!

We do observe Christmas. Holidays are always welcome around here.

Wishing you and your family a most wonderful Christmas and many special delights.