He looked nasty. He might have been saying “vacuum” as he glared back at me through my windshield, the wiper smearing early evening raindrops across the dirty glass. I had nudged my car into the crosswalk, trying my best to inch around the left turner in front of me and cross Mission Street before the holiday crowd swarmed in front of my car. The light turned yellow. I wasn’t going to make it, and with the car behind me snuggled up to my bumper, I was now directly in the man’s way.
“Vacuum,” he said again, apparently, and when the throng of shoppers pushed around my car, he decided to school me and maneuvered to my side of the car. I could feel my heart push my blood to my hands and feet. My eyelids dropped, my head tilted forward, my pupils dilated, and my brain selected a snarky comment I could fling at him, something to prove I was a bigger ass than he, something like, “First time in the big city?”
I lowered the window ready for him to heave a fist through it.
Suddenly his squared jaw softened, and he shot me a big smile, “It’s the holiday’s, brother. Everyone’s tense. You gotta be patient. I was just down at McDonald’s and there was a bunch of people just laughin’ their asses off. We gotta be nice to each other, okay? Calm down. It’s better for everyone.”
His did push his hand through the open window, palm up and ready to grasp mine. I grinned back. “You are so right,” I concurred, “So right. Thank you.” I shook his hand.
And he walked away.
I turned to the little old lady in the seat next to me. The sight of her had cooled his temper like water on fire. Her presence had turned two cavemen into gentlemen. “Thanks Mom,” I said.
This holiday, remember the little old lady.
She reminds us our feelings can change in a second from judgement to fellowship, our behavior from crassness to courtesy.
Remember the little old lady. She invites us to be our best, just by showing up.
When tempers rise over the stupidest conflicts and our inner ass hankers for attention, remember the little old lady.
It’s better for everyone.