Goosebumps in July

My friend Al needed some clothes last summer, so we decided to go to the mall. It wasn’t a busy day, but it was a hot day. So hot in fact, that we were both feeling lazy, and didn’t want to walk very far in the heat if we could help it. After driving around the parking lot on a quest for a close spot like any lazy person, we found one. It was a good spot in the Kohl’s parking lot, but it wasn’t perfect.

The problem with the stall was this: some arrogant BMW driver parked over the line. Luckily, a courteous, adjacent SUV driver parked far enough over that an empty area big enough for us was created. Al isn’t the greatest driver, and as he was pulling into the spot, he “rubbed against” the BMW.

I called the cops immediately, and then assessed the damage. Al’s car had nothing more than a scratch on the 80’s rubber-like bumper. The BMW on the other hand…looked ugly. The driver-side back door was pinched in by the rear fender. Blue paint chips were around the wheel. Chrome trim was peeled off, dangling over the blue-glistened hub cap. The worst part: the car alarm was going off. The shrill whine only amplified the fear of a psycho-upset BMW driver killing me before the cop arrived!

The cop pulled up five minutes later, got out of his car, and interrogated Al. I observed a man approaching the scene at a brisk trot. The look on his face was ugly; if he would’ve had a knife in his hand, I would’ve suffered the scariest moment of my life! He was shouting something resembling “ohno-whatdja-do!” as he approached me, still sitting on the car’s trunk. Mr. BMW had emerged from my imagination as the nut-case on crack I had feared; not even the cop’s presence could save me now!

Swearing profusely, he kicked his rear driver-side door when it didn’t open after it was unlocked. This man remained oblivious to the fact that there was an officer of the law watching his every move, and glared from his car, to me, to his car, to Al’s car, back to me. When his eyes met mine, I thought they flickered with desire to pummel my face into my guts. Goose bumps shot all over me, despite the burning heat. Rather than hammering me to the pavement, the man kicked the bottom of Al’s door hard enough to dent it, cussing a certain God’s name while carrying out his rage!

Witnessing him do that out of frustration/anger was a strange moment for me. Not only could the guy just have easily pulled a knife or gun, but he could have also started his car up and smashed up some serious damage! Yet for some reason, my strongest emotion flaring out at that moment was my anger. Although I had many lingering effects from my afternoon with Mr. BMW, none stuck with me more than my gratitude for my own sense of self-control!

Mr. BMW wasn’t the first person I’ve wanted to react inappropriately to in my life, but he was the most challenging to watch walk away. My experience with him was a rare moment when what the devil hanging out on my shoulder was telling me to do sounded especially appealing. The desire to lash out after he damaged my friend’s property was an enormous tug! I’m certain that if he possessed a set of golf clubs in his trunk in those few seconds he would’ve threatened my security. However, the fact that an officer was present reassured me; the cop would’ve done his job. Only my cool, serene angel teamed up with my determination to maintain control extinguished my devil’s persuasive, blazing flames of anger. Even in a state of incomplete-serenity, it was tough witnessing him drive away on a tear flipping me the bird.

Each time I reflect on this event, my eyes are opened to times I failed to control myself. The fact that I’m simply “grateful for my sense of self-control” might mislead some people into thinking I’m near perfect so, let me clear it up. Light, ugly moments such as arguments with the girlfriend, being volunteered to commitments with the girlfriend’s family, having to lose much needed sleep on a rarely free Saturday to shop for women’s clothes, or worse, rummage for the entire morning with the girlfriend, and having to learn to admit SHE’s always going to be right…I often struggle to keep control of myself. On the flip-side, I can also be overly self-critical; whenever I try to cook my girl something and it’s not that great, or when I pick a movie and she decides she doesn’t like it over halfway through, I get a little cranky. You see I’m not perfect, but I do the best I can! I’m still appreciative to the moments where I remain in control when doing something stupid could really get me in trouble.

A week after the event, I could still recall the emotions I suffered. Once in awhile I’d think about the man’s face, and shudder. What made it so scary was how I expected the owner to be a mature business man, with a level head on his shoulders, and instead, here comes a whack-job with an attitude. In a majority of frightening situations where my flight-or-fight response is activated, due to my stubbornness I will choose to fight. Knowing I was unprepared to face Mr. BMW’s instability was more scary than the way the man presented himself.

I’ve done my best to respect elders my entire life so when one acts like a child throwing a tantrum, damaging a friend’s property in the process, it’s tough to remain chill in that moment. There are times when I’d see his face and want to dunk it in kerosene and strike a match; nothing would satisfy me more than to see his skin sizzle off in scorching portions. I couldn’t give the man a spanking or a time out like I wanted, but I still optimistically wished the cop would! Personally, though what the man did was unexpected, I’m proud I stayed on the car and let the cop do his job; my dad told me he would’ve “punched the guy’s lights out” (a favorite saying of his) if he was in my position. My exposure to a human being so fowl continues to teach me new things each time I return to that day in my mind.

Not being a sensitive person, I was able to walk away from the incident thankful I possessed enough inner strength to never become a lose screw like Mr. BMW. I know everybody has their day, but I don’t think anybody enduring a bad day has the right to flip out like a two-year old and kick someone’s car! I vowed to never let emotion snatch my common sense away from me after witnessing a financially well-off man do just that; the image will remain embedded in my mind until I’m worm-food. This oath doesn’t pop into my head every argument/bad situation, but I’m still thankfully committed to stay true to my pledge!

Another lesson I gained from seeing a grown man possibly threaten my safety, and immaturely dent a friend’s car is this: life is too short to be doing things you don’t want to do. Things happen, and when they do, let them be; don’t make a situation worse by losing sight of what’s the right thing to do. I could have yelled something nasty to Mr. BWM after he inflicted his damage, but that would’ve only escalated the situation into something worse. Al wouldn’t have gotten his repairs compensated for if the officer didn’t feel obligated to note what Mr. BMW did as unnecessary on the incident report form; had I provoked him, he wouldn’t have been required to pay. Though in the moment I strongly craved to pick a nerve of Mr. BMW, I recognized only disaster could follow my malicious words. Sometimes the things you fancy to act on in the heat of a moment aren’t what you truly desire to accomplish in life; don’t waste time putting yourself in worse positions prematurely performing on impulse.

The most important effect on me from seeing some guy lose it on a friend’s car is this: though everybody has their days, some people handle them better than others. Some people can wake up in the morning and say, “Wow, yesterday sucked, but today will be better. If today sucks tomorrow WILL be better. Or at least, I will make it better than yesterday.” In the perfect world, people would live by that quote, and we’d all be great. While I’m not perfect, I don’t fancy being a person who lets himself/herself flip out. Whenever a crappy day is going for me, I try to remember how I was educated from my first accident; seeing Mr. BMW act the way he did showed me the type of individual I never want to resemble! “NEVER” is a sturdy word, but my determination to persevere through the dark days of my life is stronger.

The lingering lessons I obtained from Mr. BMW will forever influence my conquest to become a better individual, but none can contest with my gratitude for my sense of self-control. I don’t brag about my strength of mind because I’m not proud enough to; I know it’s not flawless. The knowledge Mr. BMW unwittingly passed on to me will only add fuel to my inner burning desire to be all I can be. While I’m well aware I still need to improve my self-control, I’m forever grateful I have such a strong attribute!