I ran a bunch of errands this past Friday. I live in a pretty good neighborhood and it was a really nice day( plus I have NO A/C and it’s Texas) so I had all my car windows down. When I pulled up to one of the stoplights, there was a car in front of me. I saw a young brother riding his bicycle, minding his own business. I guess he knew the person in the car in front of me because they proceeded to have a conversation at the light. It was ,cool.
It was a turning lane, and I guess we could have turned right on red, but I wasn’t in a rush, so I just let them talk. The car behind me, however, honked the horn just as the light was turning green. The car in front began to turn the corner and I proceeded to follow.
Before I could complete my turn, the kid on the bike stuck his head IN my window and said, “Slow your ass, trick!” and pedaled off. Not in a hurry like he felt any kind of fear or guilt, but slowly, as if with pride in the fact that he’d taken the opportunity to “set me straight”.
WHAT THE HELL?
He was a nice looking, young teenager, probably still in high school. 15 at the most. He coulda been my little brother.
I kept driving, but the more I thought about what he did, the madder I got…and the sadder I got.
I was mad because he was flat out rude and disrespectful, AND he was directing his words at the wrong person. I was mad because of his arrogance and his carelessness.
I was sad because I could see how something like this could escalate into a more serious situation. Road rage is REAL. This is Texas. And people are mean sometimes.
So, I turned my car around. ( I have a lil’ bit of crazy in me too…)
As fate would have it, he was at the gas station buying some snacks and Gatorade.
When he saw my face, his whole demeanor changed. He was shocked! He might have even been scared. I’m sure he didn’t expect to ever see me again. But,
I let him know I just wanted to talk to him real quick about what just happened.
I asked him if he was the young man who called me a trick, etc. He said, “Yes ma’am, but, oh I’m sorry I didn’t mean any disrespect or harm.”
I asked him why he felt that it was ok to do what he did and say what he said to a perfect stranger, a woman, no less.
He said, “Cuz you honked the horn”.
I let him know that first if all, it wasn’t me, and he apologized some more. But I also told him that even if it was me, he needed to be more careful. You cannot violate a person (or a person’s space) with words or actions and think that it’s ok. What if I wasn’t there to just talk? What if I meant to “get back” my respect? What if I was a white man in a truck? What if I was a black man in a truck? Would he have been as reckless? We talked about being respectful to ALL people, even when they do you wrong, cuz you don’t know how what you do will affect people. By the end of the conversation we were laughing and joking.
I asked him to please be careful and to think first in the future. Just because you feel a certain way about someone, or something they did you must always THINK about whether YOUR REACTION will set something bad into motion. Evaluate the risk of what you plan to do. As a kid that’s probably kinda hard, but in this day and age, some people don’t care how old you are when all they’re trying to do is get back at you.
I thought about not talking to him. I don’t know what he had in his backpack…he coulda been crazy, too. But to me, if I didn’t say anything to this young man, who would? He could say something tomorrow to another person… and end up on the news. I PRAY NOT. I know I tried to impart some wisdom into this child, someone else’s baby. I hope that if my little niece and nephews or my future kids decide to act out, someone else takes the opportunity to talk to them without flying off the handle first, or pulling out a gun, or following them with bad intentions.
I got back in my car. He apologized again and said “If you see me again, don’t run me over!” I promised I wouldn’t.
I hope I do see him again…