Hurricane Sandy is just another opportunity for people to show their kindness and humanity, or what thoughtless and selfish morons they can be. Both have been showing up in vivid color lately.
We’ve all heard about neighbors helping each other through the storm’s aftermath. I see electrical extensions running across the street from homes with generators to those without. My friends have been very kind to us in opening their homes to us for meals, hot showers, and a warm place to stay, and I’m extremely grateful to all who offered. The atmosphere in some Mom & Pop establishments has turned into comrades in arms, helping each other out and commiserating. Everyone counts their blessings, and the bars have turned into parties, where everyone yells “Ooooh!” when the generator kicks the lights out, and then cheers when they turn back on. It’s warm, friendly and kind.
The story is very different on gas lines and on the roads. Out there, it’s a dog-eat-dog situation. As a small dog in this scenario, perhaps a Shitzu, I’ve been quiet and patient with all of the shenanigans going on, and just roll my eyes when it takes 10 minutes to get out of a side street at intersections where the lights are still down. But on the gas line, it’s another story. I was sitting quietly in line, waiting my turn with the others, until someone decided to cut the line. I think it was right about then that i turned into a Pitbull.
As our line patiently snaked around the square block to get to the pumps, one jackass thought he would just jump into line as the line turned a corner. The young woman in the car in front of mine beeped her horn as the front of his car was wedged in front of hers, as he began his plan, and she tooted her horn and yelled to him from her window, “Sir, sir, there’s a line”, and gestured to the cars behind us. He pretended not to understand or hear. I was laying on my horn, so he would get the message that it wasn’t just the woman he was cutting in front of that objected, and was surprised that the 20 or so cars behind us weren’t beeping as well. When the car in front of hers moved up, he just slid into the spot. Oh HELL no. Now he had gotten my “Jersey” up, and it took about 3 seconds for me to get out of my car and get up to his window.
A little background here: There is something about line-jumping that deeply offends my sense of propriety and fairness. My husband feels exactly the same way, and I discovered this when we both tore into some gangster-looking thug on a funhouse line years ago. Everyone passively stood there as he cut into the very long line, but my husband and I, without consulting one another, verbally lashed into him like he was murdering our child. I remember the thug saying to my husband, “You don’t know what I’m capable of”, to which my husband replied, “You don’t know what I’M capable of!” Now, Mr. Helix isn’t a big man, but when very angry, he has the advantage of looking potentially dangerously crazy. Even thugs know that crazy beats might, because it is unpredictable. Eventually, he stood down and left. The most infuriating part of the exchange? The hillbilly woman who was part of “security”, who screamed at Mr. Helix and me for starting a ruckus on her line, and threatened to throw US out of the park. Insult added to injury!
Anyway, back to the gas line jumper. When I bolted to his window, the older man looked up at me with a surprised look on his face, as if to say, “Who, me?” At least the funhouse thug stood his ground and didn’t pretend to be in the right, but this guy was playing stupid, and it INCENSED me. I don’t remember everything I said, but I did not use profanity, even though I did use the full brunt of my lung capacity. I was gesturing to the long line behind him, and telling him to go wait like everyone else. He said, rather nonsensically, “I came from over there,” meaning the side road he sneaked onto line from. I yelled that I didn’t care, and he had to go. He ignored me…that is, until I walked to his driver side rear panel and kicked his car in a fit of pique. He yelled at me, “Be sensible!” it was a waste of breath, because at that point, I was way past sensible. I yelled back, “GO!! Just GO!!” I think that my husband doesn’t have the only scarily crazy look when very angry, because the man actually pulled out of line and drove away. I went back to my car, still shaking from the encounter.
The normal, civilized person in me ran the scenario over and over again in my head, and wondered if I had just completely lost my mind for no reason. However, the gas line attendant and the woman in front of me laughed and confirmed that they thought I’d done the right thing. And everyone I’ve told the story to has said, “Good for you!” or some such sentiment. I know he was doing something wrong, and in our culture, we wait on lines and keep order that way. But in civilized cultures, do we scream and kick things when someone breaks the rules? Everyone has a fit of temper now and again, but even if others believe it is justified, does it make it right?
After spending the first half of my life being rather passive and being taken advantage of, I am sometimes not sure if I am over-correcting and being too aggressive in situations. I don’t want to return to the doormat of yesteryear, but I also do not want to turn into the Incredible Hulk every time someone offends my sense of justice and right. I don’t think that I do, but even in this one short instance, I can see how people can become carried away and things can get our of control when a disaster strikes.
There is enough stress and fury out in the world, and I have plenty of stress in my everyday life to begin with. I’d rather try to be a little more zen and not fly off the handle like that when others do the wrong thing. But I’m not quite there yet, and in the meantime…I’d suggest you not cut into my line