Monday, June 25, 2012

An Open Letter to The Parking Lot Bully

When you tore off that scrap of junk mail and scrawled hateful words to me, you couldn't have known the true effect you'd have.

I do imagine you were going for something effectual, or else you wouldn't have taken the time to call me a bitch, among other things.  I won't get into the silliness behind calling someone you don't even know, who did no harm to you or your property, a derogatory name, but I will say that I think your vocabulary could use some embellishment.  At a certain level of maturity, the phrase dumb ass becomes less explanatory and more laughable.  I suppose you haven't reached that level yet, though, so I can forgive your choice of words.  Or maybe you are old enough to know better, and truly DID just feel the need to laugh.  I understand: sometimes you need to laugh. 

But I will never understand laughing at somebody else's expense.  For not parking as straight as you wished I would, you found it necessary to passive-aggressively berate me.  In this age of cyber-bullying and online-personality-boosting, I had forgotten that people use the same methods in real life: placing rude notes on windshields, calling out taunting words behind the protection of a crowd, building themselves up by bringing others down. 

I also forgot it was possible in this town.  Joplin has been open-hearted and generous for so long that I never would have imagined a crooked parking job could incite such hatred.  Even if I'd been outside of my designated lines -- which I wasn't -- I'd have been surprised by your anger at such an ugly level.  I did know I was parked less-than straight.  I also made sure I wasn't in anybody's way.  We exited our vehicle without any problems, and left plenty of room for you to do the same. 

But the effect you might have been trying to achieve -- proving your importance?  making me question my parking skills?  displaying your shining knowledge of cuss words? -- fell flat.  Well, mostly.  You did succeed in making me feel embarrassed and sad for several upsetting minutes.  Congratulations. 

The cool part, though, if one chooses to see it (and I do), is that your words helped remind me that the world isn't very nice.  I know the thought is neither new nor hopeful, but I am an admitted idealist, and I sometimes forget (or willfully ignore) the harsh parts of life. 

I watched my kids all weekend, making mistakes and having accidents and at times doing things every way but the right way.  I saw them trying so hard to learn life.  And where I might have grown frustrated or angry with them, I stopped.  I remembered your rudeness.  I remembered that my children are going to experience plenty of angry individuals in life and that I never want to contribute to their accumulation of negativity.  As if it could build up in their hearts like a slow leak of radiation. 

I know they'll be rocked by hatred at some point.  But I want them to remember the encompassing grip of acceptance and love more than the meanness.  I want their hearts to be so full of light that they are not harmed by dark words or shadowy intolerance.

So while you only meant to cause bad feelings and harm with your hatefulness?  I choose to contort your rudeness into something I can use for good.  I choose to forgive your act of intolerance.  I would even hug you if I were to see you again, because our days since your note have been so full of love, silliness, and joy. 

Thanks, bully.  I guess there's a place for you, after all.  Just not as you might have wished. 

Happy Parking!


The Perpetually Positive and Cheerfully Optimistic Lady Who Irritates Your Sense of Parking Lot Superiority,
Sarah The Heavenly

6 comments:

  1. Ella and I were crossing the grocery store parking lot recently and apparently weren't moving fast enough for the woman in the monstrously large SUV. She yelled out the window, "step on it, bitch!" as she careened past us. Ella asked first: step on what? and then: what's a bitch? And then: why would she say that? Her complete confusion at a display of intentional hostility buoyed me and I was able to lead us into a good talk about how some people when they're mean aren't really talking about you, they're just reflecting on something inside *them*. We decided that that lady must have just been having a terrible day and we felt sad for her. But inside, I was shaking with anger. Good on you for turning it around so well. I still haven't succeeded, and it was a couple months ago.

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  2. Turning negative into positive, LOVE IT!!!!!

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  3. Thanks for sharing! Glad it's not just me that has to process it when people are rude and hateful. However, I also must admit on the flip-side that although I don't swear at people, I do occasionally get aggravated whilst driving when people make mistakes or are just plain lazy, and I tend to be one who shows my aggravation (beeping, shaking head as I pass, etc.)

    Though I wouldn't swear at people, I have often had to catch myself and realize there are a host of reasons people drive badly...and my muttering under my breath is not a good example for my son. I think people, including me, are way too ready to fight over trivia when they are safe in their vehicle or don't have to face the person...maybe we all need to be a little nicer and remember the person we're mad at might be someone ordinary like ourselves with all the ordinary pressures of life.

    We all need more grace- for ourselves and towards others.

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  4. I think people who have are mean have an important job in our lives, keep us thoughtful and conscious, but we have to chose it, I am glad you did!

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  5. I hope whoever it was was having an exceptionally bad day and regrets writing that note, and is not like that all the time. But so glad you were able to turn it for the good!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?