Friday, October 05, 2007

Parking Rage vs persuasive words

The other day, I was involved in a Parking Rage incident. Well, I say involved in, but "an innocent victim of" would be more accurate.

Without going into boring detail, what happened was that I parked in a space to which another driver - a tradesman working nearby - felt that he was more entitled. Veins bulging, he shouted at me to move my car. I reasoned with him, pointing out the flaws in his argument. He shouted louder and threatened me with violence if I didn't move my car. I moved my car.

Afterwards, I felt upset and ashamed - as men will when they allow themselves to be physically intimidated. I tried to convince myself that, actually, I'd done the right thing. It was, in fact, very easy to move my car; and by doing so, I'd defused a potentially nasty situation, in which I could easily have been hurt. (I'd love to pretend that my adversary was two metres high and built like a prop forward; he wasn't, but he did have a slightly unhinged air about him that made him quite scary to a herbivore like me.) But, a couple of weeks on, I still feel unhappy about the incident.

And it's easy to see why. Persuasive words got their backside kicked by violence (or, strictly speaking, the threat of violence). My best efforts to argue my case and to establish a rapport with my "reader" were utterly unsuccessful. The pen (or, in this case, the Mac user) turned out to be considerably less mighty than the sword (or, in this case, Mr Angry's fists and his willingness to employ them).

So what is my face-saving response to that? I suppose it must be something to the effect that while force can win short term victories, it can never win hearts and minds, without which - as President Bush and that ghastly swivel-eyed bloke who used to be our Prime Minister have so brilliantly demonstrated in Iraq - a victory is worth less than nothing. And yes, I think I do genuinely believe that.

But I still rather wish I'd had the courage to head-butt him.


At 2:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least it sounds like you were happy with how brilliant your comeback was in the situation Lindsay.

Generally after that sort of situation I’m left feeling like I’ve got enough nervous energy to power a small nervous factory. I then spend the rest week or so converting that energy into lots of various comebacks that would have been better at the time. Something like...

Perhaps I should have said ‘I’m sorry you feel that this is your space, but that does not give you the right to immediately scream at me as if I’d just burgled your house and killed your dog. What’s wrong with a ‘I think that space is mine mate!’ or a vigorous beep of the horn? Your over the top, knee jerk aggression is helping to tatter the already threadbare fabric of modern existence.’ Then he would have driven off looking for another space thinking carefully about what he’d done. Yes, that’s what would have happened given the situation again.

But at least I know now even with some reasonable wording you still never win.

At 11:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course coming back later and placing a sticker on his bumper that read "I am gay and proud of it. Please honk to show yor support" would have allowed you the last laugh!

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