I was having a pleasant day. I taught in the morning, came home for lunch, then went out to get groceries, feeling good despite the cold and rain. The only thing bugging me was that I couldn’t remember the harmony to “You Don’t Know How it Feels” by Tom Petty, even after to listening to it a few times. Years ago, Scott’s band played it, and whenever he practiced at home I stood upstairs and sang the harmony. I was proud of myself for learning it with my limited vocal abilities – it is a little tricky, which is why his band stopped playing it. Actually, to be more precise, it is a little tricky if you’re drunk and/or stoned, which is why his band stopped playing it.
Halfway to the store, I stopped at an ATM, and I did something I rarely ever do: I parked illegally. This is just something I do not do. When I need to rebel I do it in a big way. I rebel against things that need to be rebelled against, like factory farming and the no sandals after Labor Day rule, and the not mixing stripes and plaid and paisley rule, and high school disciplinarians. But traffic rules, I don’t mess with those. They are there for a reason, and I am content to let them be. Also, whenever I rebel, I get caught, so I always make sure that it’s worth it.
Today, however, it was raining and I was cold. In a brief moment of delusion, maybe -delusion that I could ever get away with anything- I stopped my car in a spot where I knew I might block someone. I also knew the process of sprinting ten feet to the ATM, getting my sixty dollars quick cash, and sprinting back would take a grand total of about forty seconds. So, I got out my ATM card, made sure no one else was getting into their car and might get stuck behind me in the next minute, left all my stuff on the seat, and ran.
Unfortunately, there was some one I didn’t see. As I was grabbing my cash, she unrolled her window and shrieked at me with a vitriolic fury better befitting my having pooped on her steering wheel than having delayed her a few seconds. I was already back at my car when she finished. “I’m really sorry,” I called through the rain. “I hope your day gets better.” But by the time I could apologize, she had already rolled up her window.
I really did feel bad, and I was sorry, but she never got to hear that. As I drove away, I put the music back on, and mulled over how sad it was that she was too consumed by her own anger to experience a stranger genuinely apologizing and wishing her well. She just rolled up her window. Isn’t that a sad model for life, people so angry at everything in their way that they just explode and roll up the window, shut down…
Suddenly, I heard myself hit the harmony. I had gotten so wrapped up thinking about angry people that I had been singing mindlessly, and the harmony came back when I stopped trying. I was happy about that, but realized that my musing was slipping in to a heated conversation with myself justifying something or other about the experience. Her anger was starting to take over. I reminded myself that I was not the one having a bad day, and let it go. Just like that. Unrolled the window in the rain and it was gone.