Something that’s never ceased to amaze me is just how many people think it’s cool to hang out of a car and call someone names.
It’s happened to me as long as I can remember – and in many ways it’s something I now accept as a fact of life, but can drastically change my mood.
I have almost developed a spider sense for when it’s going to happen these days and when I hear a car slow I know something akin to ‘you fat c**t’ isn’t far behind.
While this anti social behaviour is both embarrassing and threatening it’s far from the worst thing that happens.
After all – these stupid people driving stupid cars with stupid exhausts playing stupid music while driving stupidly can reasonably be expected to be stupid.
Laws of natural selection suggest that eventually they will meet a car coming the other way driven by someone similar and I’m fine with that. Totally on board. Knowing that karma has a good chance of catching up with them helps.
They’re legion however, and appear to have a high birth rate so this doesn’t diminish the frequency of such an event.
This happens to me every few weeks when I least expect it. Usually when I am on my own – often when I’m walking outside.
I use platitudes to overcome it such as ‘I’m the bigger man.’ (note the self deprecating humour built into this for another personal joke at my expense) or ‘its beneath me’ and the all time great ‘I’m used to it – it doesn’t bother me.’
It’s all lies mind you. Absolute bollocks.
Happiness evaporates in seconds on these occasions and I play the event over and over in my head for hours and hours afterwards, even if I lie to other people and say I’m really ok. Usually I’m saying that to stop them feeling bad, not because it’s true.
Sometimes this makes me stay indoors, other times I am more resilient.
Sadly it’s not confined to idiots in cars and it’s much harder to deal with the innocent.
Children say what they see and often tell their parents about unusual goings on nearby. They choose their timing wisely and for maximum effect usually wait until crowds appear in supermarkets.
‘Mommy – look at that fat man!’ is a common comment – probably sitting at number one in the top 3.
‘Mommy look at that man’s tummy!’ comes in around number two, while ‘Why is that man so fat mommy – is it because he eats a lot?’ probably gets number 3.
Parents invariably have zero idea how to handle this and probably out of sheer embarrasment often choose to ignore it altogether.
The opposite approach just makes it worse. This involves disciplining the child gently in full earshot of everyone else in a checkout queue, ensuring that attention is drawn to the subject for anyone that missed it the first time round.
Presumably they do this for my benefit, as well as to make their little darling a better human being and to ensure he isn’t hanging out of a car hurling insults in later life.
The polar opposite of the vocal kids there are staring ones. These little guys are just in awe of whatever they behold and can’t tear their eyes away. Again parents deal with this one of two ways – ignore or chastise.
The ignores are bad. Children do NOT stop staring. EVER.
I decided to handle this years ago by staring back, until I realised that you can’t win and they’ll never back down. They take you staring at them as acceptance that what they’re doing is OK.
Plus it makes you appear like a member of the Jimmy Saville fan club, which is not a good look.
So basically it’s either option one – focus on the floor or the task at hand and pretend it never happened (my current weapon of choice) or option two – go full WMD on the issue and start deploying the F bomb or some other finely crafted PG-13 words.
Option two in the past (with the mobile idiots) has caused a car to reverse and start following me. It’s not suitable for streets. I always use option one.
Similarly, challenging a child (even with PG-13 language) is like kicking a fresh turd in a parent’s face and they will always (naturally) protect their young. It rarely works if you tackle the parent instead of the child either. After all ‘kids will be kids’.
So. Endure it. That’s what I’m left with.
Endure the humiliation of it over and over until I change and look more like the people who belittle me.
Just once I’d really like to walk through a shop, park, supermarket or shopping mall and not feel like I was being evaluated this way, because honestly I can’t remember how it feels to not be noticed.