I just lost my cool on a stranger for a silly reason, and now I feel terrible about it.
Jenn and I were driving home on the quiet dirt road near our house when a group of impatient teens in a sports car came up behind me and wanted me to get moving. They honked their horn at us, which annoyed me greatly. Then they started tailgating really close, and that was it: I made the choice then to indulge my anger, stop my car in such a way that they couldn’t easily pass me, and get out and confront them.
I walked up to the driver’s window and as he rolled it down, I realized I had no idea what I wanted to say. I ended up going with the classic “what the fuck do you think you’re doing” line — genius. Damn. The rest of the conversation is a blur of rage and yelling but I think one of the other kids in the car played the ‘good kid’ card and said they were just trying to get home, I think I told them to relax and stop tailgating, and then they all started yelling variations of “fuck you” and “go fuck yourself.” I noticed one of them was filming me then.
At this point, I calmed down enough to realize that despite being just four gawky teens, they’d probably hand my ass to me if it came to that so I moved out of their way and merely glared at them as they peeled out and around my car.
That was it. I didn’t get my head stomped by a gang of youths and I didn’t smash their car windshield with a golf club, but the emotional turmoil I’ve been feeling since it occurred is dizzying.
There are several reasons that I feel supremely awful about this. First off, Jenn had advised me to pull over right away, and I didn’t listen to her. I hate it when I don’t listen to her, especially when I end up doing something dumb because I didn’t listen to her. It’s such an ugly trait of a stereotypical male. I like to think that I don’t do it a lot — I guess I don’t, since it’s rare I feel this terrible about my actions — but that doesn’t make it suck any less when I do it.
Second, of course I shouldn’t even need someone to tell me that pulling over and letting the kids go by would be the best course of action. I’m not usually a complete idiot. On the contrary, I’m typically quite level and reasonable. My brain was well aware of the wiser choice but, like I often talk about here, it was easier to give in to my primal urge than to keep my brain online and think through the event — even without Jenn telling me, I knew better, yet I still made the wrong choice.
Third, the kids didn’t know that I was literally only a few hundred feet from my driveway. I never mentioned that to them. They probably thought they were going to be stuck behind me driving 20 km/h for hours. Yeah, the honking and tailgating was unnecessary, but I can’t fault them for being annoyed with me to start with.
Fourth, this miserable debacle occurred toward the end of what was an otherwise lovely day, and polluted the overarching good feelings of it. This morning I helped Jenn with some horse stuff, which she really appreciated; then I fixed some things on her car which have been on my to-do list for a long time and I felt good about that; and then she came down to the quarry to help me clean up huge a mess left behind by some campers last summer. It was a very pleasant day up to this point. We were on our way home from the camp cleanup when I fucked the whole day up by losing my shit on those kids.
I remember a time I felt similarly shitty because of one aspect of an otherwise great day. It was in the summer several years ago, and after a nice day of friends and hanging out, we went to the local pub. Unprovoked (mostly), a meat head headbutted our small friend in the mouth and then subsequently began pummeling him, so I grabbed the meat head and choked him out so my friend could escape. That was more or less it, as my pals and I made a hasty getaway to avoid further violence. The group of us got back to our place and we laid on the deck watching the Perseid meteor shower, but even lying there doing something so perfectly summer and fun and nice with wonderful friends, the moment felt toxic and tense due to the residual feelings from the brawl. I had butterflies in my stomach the rest of the night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone else did too. That was one of the best examples in my life of how a few terrible minutes and can ruin an entire day; now, lucky me, I have another example of that. Hot dog.
Writing posts like this is hard because part of me would rather bury my actions from today and never think of them again, and certainly never share the story with the world. But I think that the only thing as important as doing the right thing, being kind, and turning the other cheek, is admitting when you fuck up — I most assuredly fucked up today so I wanted to admit it. I also wanted to explore my feelings on all of this and document it in the hopes of recognizing some of my negative patterns and avoiding them in the future.
I should have listened to my partner. I should have listened to my internal voice of reason. I should have pulled over to let the kids by. I should have elected to stay calm and let go of my rage.
I am a bonehead, but I am hopeful I will do better in the future.