On Father’s Day, I stopped to fill my gas tank in Northbrook, Illinois.
It’s a relatively wealthy suburb.
I do not live there.
I was not raised there.
I finished pumping, then emptied the well of my driver’s side door of the weekly junk that accumulates: paper, tissues, an aluminum can, a piece of floss, wrappers, a broken pen, etc.
A couple pulls their car behind mine, and a man yells from the driver’s side.
“Show other drivers some courtesy! Pull your car up before you start unloading your trash!”
I look. Granted, the rear of my minivan is hanging back slightly beyond the imaginary line where cars ideally park to pump, but the hose of my pump reaches my car just fine. I can tell that his will reach his car, too.
“Sorry,” I say. “I think you’re okay. But I’m leaving now anyway!”
I get into my car to turn it on.
“Did you hear me?” he yells. Then he honks.
I step back out to toss two last cans in the trash. I look back at him, perplexed. Can he not see that my car is running?
Then he honks again.
“Idiot!” he shouts, getting out and grabbing his pump.
I am stunned.
I want to crawl back into my car and drive away.
But he keeps egging me.
“Spoiled brat,” he says.
What IS this?!?
I have a choice. Get in the car or not.
I choose not.
I look at him and say, “I’m leaving now. And I think there’s plenty of room for you to pump. If not, there are 2 other pumps open right now [and I point to them].”
His female partner gets out and approaches me. She’s standing as close as you’d stand to someone you’re about to kiss.
In a very low, calm voice, she says, “Just walk away now. You won’t win this.”
She looks exhausted.
I wonder if she is abused.
Then she continues, low and slow.
“Stay here… in your selfish bubble… and do whatever it is you people do.”
I stand up straighter. I have chills.
Then the man yells. “Moron! Learn some manners.”
I look directly at the woman.
I am scared.
And in shock.
And I feel so sorry for her.
And for him.
And for the explosive anger they hold.
“I’m leaving now,” I say. “And you have no idea who I am or what my story is. If you did, you’d have already apologized. Trust me.”
And then I get into my car.
I am not mad.
I am not scared.
I am not an idiot.
I am not spoiled.
I am not selfish.
I am not fighting.
Granted, I DO live in the very liberal bubble that is Evanston, Illinois…
But I will not carry the anger of others.
That’s entirely on them.
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