Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Is How Wars Get Started

Yesterday I was scheduled to teach at 8:30, and when I arrived, there was a parking place open in the smaller parking lot to the side of the facility, where thus far I have never parked. As I pulled in, I saw a car behind me with a bumper sticker reading "Who is John Galt?". I rolled my eyes and went on in and taught a really pretty not-so-bad class, if you ask me, and when I came back out, the car with the Shruggy bumper sticker was still there. So I thought I might take a picture of it and post it on Facebook with a snarky comment about what exactly this bumper sticker announces to me about you if I see you tooling down the road with it attached to your car.

But then, after I put my stuff in Matt's car (which I happened to be driving yesterday rather than my own), I saw that there was a simply colossal, very new, white Suburban idling at the entrance to the small lot, obviously waiting for my space. I grabbed my phone and made a hasty attempt to get a picture of the sticker, but technology was not cooperating. I was annoyed about feeling rushed by the stalker Suburban, so I thought I'd pull out of the space and let this person park and then take a moment of my own idling in the parking lot so I could get my picture.

I backed out, and because the lot is kind of narrow, I got rather close to the line of cars on the other side, many of which were parked nose-out. When I was clear enough of the space that the Suburban could get in, I put my own car in park and opened my door. I didn't realize until I opened the door that I was quite close to a dark-colored Acura sedan, and the edge of my door tapped the Acura's license plate lightly. I pulled the door in a little and started to get out.

A horn honked. Matt's car's horn is kind of sensitive and I have accidentally honked it on more than one occasion, so I looked around a bit to see if it was mine, and I saw that behind the wheel of the Acura was a woman holding a cell phone up to her ear. She was screaming. Balls-out, utterly bereft of human control, shrieking. At me.

I can only presume that she heard my door tap her license plate (I am not misusing the word "tap" here, I wish to emphasize) and thought that I must have actually hit her bumper, or scratched the paint, or something, when in fact it was just the license plate. Yet still - she seemed to have gone from zero to 180 mph in about half a second, because of what couldn't have amounted in the worst case to a mild scratch on her bumper.

I couldn't understand what words she was shouting at me, although I could clearly hear her voice through the protective barrier of her car. I lifted my eyebrows a little and got back into my own car, and then backed up a few yards (as far as I could without hitting a dumpster), ready to flee as soon as the Suburban was done parking.

Which it wasn't. The woman in the Suburban had decided to back her ridiculous Cunard White Star vehicle into this space, and I honestly don't think I've ever seen a parking maneuver that was proceeding more slowly. I sat there, waiting for her to get the fuck out of the way so I could just leave. The comedy of the situation was not escaping me, and I knew that a) no harm was done and b) the woman in the Acura was waaaaay overreacting, so I wasn't feeling guilty or upset or anything. But I really wanted to get out of there in case she perchance had a license to carry a handgun.

On the way home, I reviewed these events, kind of incredulous at the way it had all unfolded, and so quickly. All because I wanted to get a picture of a bumper sticker. The various chess pieces and their parts to play; the conjunction of time and space. One person with a hair-trigger temper, and another one who was late for her Pilates class, and a third who meant well but was driving a car she wasn't accustomed to. As I told Matt later, this is how wars get started.

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