Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How I lost a fight to an old man this morning ...

Weird stuff happens to me. Some of it I am even willing to share. This morning is a great example of this.

The Background: I had volunteered to cook pancakes for all of the staff and students at my son's school this morning as part of a fundraiser for their Grade 8 trip. We put together a terrific team of parents, I bought a cartload of batter mix, everyone brought their griddles and spatulas, and it was an awesome event! It was on my way home, after three hours of this - enjoying myself while volunteering to raise funds for children - that my story takes place. (I emphasize that to make sure that you get that I am the good guy in this story! I am intentionally painting myself in a flattering light, because the story is so much better, and makes much ore sense, when you are clear on that part.)

In fact, watch this short clip from the phenomenally funny HBO series "The Life And Time Of Tim". That is pretty much how my day started to go at about 11:30am ...

The Story: As I had borrowed my ex-wife's griddle (that I lost in our split, but I think that was in exchange the wok so I am not complaining) for the pancake making extravaganza, I was dropping it back to her at her workplace. Two of the school moms were diligently scrubbing the other griddles and I figured I could give this one a quick wipe on my own rather than adding to their workload (see the theme here - damn I was being wonderful!!). So, a mile down from the school, I turned onto a country road and pulled over to brush the pancake crumbs off before handing it over.

I had just stepped out of the car and taken the griddle from my trunk when a truck pulled up behind me. An older man (75? 80? White hair. Full beard. About 4 inches shorter than I am.) climbed down from the driver's door. I assumed he was making sure I was ok, as my 4 ways were flashing, so I smiled and wiped a napkin across the teflon surface as I said "Hello".

"What in the HELL do you think you are doing?" old, bearded, short, white-haired guy shouted as he marched right up to me.

"Pardon?" I replied.

"Do you just think you can throw your garbage on my lawn?" he added, the questions starting to build up.

"No, sir. I don't have any garbage at all. I am just wiping some pancake crumbs from this griddle before I return it to the person who lent it to me."

"Well, why don't you wipe those crumbs on your own god damned lawn?"

"Sir, she is just up the road and I was dropping it off on my way home. Please have a look at the ground. You will notice there is no garbage. There is less than a handful of crumbs and nothing else."

"Yes. On my goddamned lawn!" he was now pretty much in a full blown rage.

I decided I had better just cut my losses at this point. "Sir, I am very sorry. I sure wasn't looking for any trouble, so I will just apologize and be on my way."

"Well you certainly found some trouble, boy," he proclaimed, literally balling up his fists and taking another step towards me, "when you decided to dump your trash on my lawn!"

I found myself starting to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation, but tried not to smirk and, instead, continued being respectful.

"Sir, I am not going to argue with you. I have apologized and I will apologize again. I am sorry that this has caused you so much stress. There was no harm intended. I wish you a good day and am going to go now."

"You can go after to pick up your god damned trash from my property!"

Finally, I decided that enough was enough. "Sir, this is not your property. This is the road. Your property starts at that fence, on the other side of that wide ditch. And this is not trash. This is a minuscule amount of pancake batter. I have apologized repeatedly despite having done nothing wrong, and you are entirely unwilling to accept my apology. You actually seem intent on us having a fist fight over this, and I don't really see any scenario in which that works out well for me in the big picture, so I am just going to say "You win. I lose". But I am not picking up those crumbs from the road. Some birds will have eaten them in a few minutes, brightening their day. By then I will be smiling somewhere down the road, enjoying my day too. And I sincerely hope, for your own sake, that you get some perspective and don't let this honestly ruin your day."

And I walked to my car and drove away. The story wasn't completely over yet. He then followed me to see where I dropped the griddle off - yes, seriously. I drove right past my destination, not wanting them embroiled in this ridiculous drama. Instead I turned into an adjcent subdivision and pulled into a driveway until he drove by out of sight.

And, true to my word, I carried on, smiling at now having a great story that made my awesome day just that much more interesting.

1 comment:

  1. I love your level-headedness and the calm response in the face of an absurd anger. - Amy B.