Oh dear. I know my semi-regular blogs have been, well, not… What can I say? It’s busy-busy here in Culver City. But then something happens that I just have to write about.
I go to Costco for gas.
And my whole psychological spooky house loses a couple walls…
It’s early, before the big store rolls up the corrugated steel doors and a knot of eager shoppers push in with their giant carts. It’s when the gasoline station is usually, shall we say, mellow.
All the years I’ve been driving my Saturn (yes a Saturn…), I still have to look at the dash to remind myself which side the fuel tank is on. Oh yeah…the right. Plenty of times I pull into the “other” lane and have to thread the gasoline thingy behind the rear antenna across the trunk to reach the hole. As I stand there, babysitting the handle, making sure a passing car doesn’t squash my bottom, it’s obvious to me that I could have thought this through a little better.
So here I am one more time carefully weighing my options, remembering which side is which and divining which line of cars is the shortest. So I hesitate a little before taking aim at the “leftist” lane. JUST AS A GUY IN A BIG BLACK TRUCK RIPS OUT OF NOWHERE AND CUTS IN FRONT OF ME.
Yes in the scheme of things, in a world that is rife with despair and people doing awful things to each other, this burst of mean-spiritedness is a non-starter. But at the picnic of life, it’s not so much the bears that get me. It’s the ants…
Almost immediately he pulls up to a pump. MY PUMP. As I wait MY turn. I glare at him. I want to burn him up with my eyes. I am on fricking fire.
And he is glaring at me too. At ME! I watch him open his door…glare…walk to the pump…glare…do the credit card dance and gas up…glare. I watch my angry mind question his worthiness as a human being. His right to breathe air. But mostly I smash into the wall of my own psychology. My M.O. When I feel wronged, when I feel like someone has treated me in a rude, snarky way, I feel terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
But here’s what usually happens: I back off. I want to make nice. I want everyone to get along. This is my M.O. too. I swallow that mouthful of anger and stuff it into my gut. As if getting it out of my face is my ticket to Happy Land.
Not this time…
I look the guy straight in the eyes and say “you cut in front of me and that was very unkind.”
“I disagree.” He retorts.
Uh-oh… Was he the star on his college debate team? Was he from a big family where it was dinnertime sport to argue your case over mom’s pot roast and mashed potatoes?
And he’s not done… Now he makes it about me. That I was hesitating and didn’t know which lane I was going to, so of course he drove around me. In other words, it is my fault.
Oh, he’s a spin doctor too? He’s off the hook, by golly, because I made him do it. By now my rational mind is missing in action. My head has turned into a drunk party.
One voice says “yeah, it’s all your fault…bad girl.”
Another interrupts “nuh-uh, he’s a jerk.”
Another chimes in “but the guy has a point.”
“Yeah…maybe…but he won’t even say ‘I’m sorry’.’”
“No, YOU shut up…”
The conversation blares on.
If it was possible to lean a microphone against our heads and broadcast the internal conversations we have with ourselves, I think most of us would all be in jail.
At least overnight…
I say nothing more to this man. Continuing our “discussion” would be an exercise in futility but I’m sure my face registers utter dismay. A poker player I am not. I watch him roar out of the parking lot and tear down the street. Maybe he’s late for work. Maybe his kid is in the hospital. Maybe he’s a horse’s ass. His left brake light is out and maybe he’ll get pulled over by a cop and get a ticket. A really expensive ticket…
Maybe today I am taking things too personally.
Towards the end of his life, philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote, “It’s a little embarrassing that after forty-five years of research & study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”
Mr. Huxley died in Los Angeles. In 1963. B.C. Before Costco.
How do I respond to this moment…and this one…and this one? How can I know until it happens? How can I know if the answer is kindness? Or fire? Or both? If only I can remember to check in with my heart FIRST.
If only I can remember where the fuel tank is…
PROGRAM NOTE for our California friends:
My husband Craig and I are doing a mini-ukulele tour (and mini-vacation) through Central California in mid-July:
Friday, July 17, 2015: Morning workshop with the super fun Funstrummers in Modesto. Everyone is welcome.
Saturday, July 18, 2015: Workshop and concert at the house of ukulele love,The Strum Shop, in Roseville.
Monday, July 20, 2015: Workshop and concert in San Jose at Atria Willow Glen. Workshop is 2:00 to 3:00 and Concert from 3:30 to 4:30 P.M. Everyone is welcome (Email me for details).
Please join us. We would LOVE to see you and make music together.
So I happen to glance at my horoscope for Wednesday, June 24, 2015 in the Los Angeles Times, just as I’m composing this blog and it’s like…really? The comedy just writes itself…