We took N and a friend to a Fall Festival today nearby. It was crowded and the lines were long, but the joy on my sweet girl’s face when she was finally called up to get her face painted was worth every second in line. The delicious (and totally sugar-packed) Amish Market donut and warm apple cider made the crowds more manageable. And the afternoon fall sun warmed my soul as I watched our family take in more of our new community.
People smiled, said please and thank you. Kids filled up on candy from the early trick-or-treating. And the event planner’s energy was contagious.
It was a beautiful day, and I was so grateful to be able to enjoy those moments with my family.
And then as we were leaving the busy parking lot, the worst of humanity surfaced. As it does in most parking lots, I believe.
We were three cars deep in a row of parked cars, waiting for our turn to make a left into the exit lane. One driver made a left, and then the next car already in the exit lane moved forward. The driver in front of us made a left, and then the next car already in the exit lane moved forward. You know – the way traffic should move. We are all moving the same direction, at the same snail’s pace. Common sense, common courtesy, says we get to make our left next.
Tyler inched out, slowly starting his left turn maneuver, and the next driver in the exit lane rushes forward, hugging the bumper of the car in front of her so we couldn’t get in.
“Unbelievable,” I say to Tyler, just as she throws her hands up, giving us the universal signal for “stop,” and then points to herself, mouthing “my turn.”
No, lady, it is not your turn, because, you know – there are two children in the back seat. Had to keep it PG.
So again, I say, “Unbelievable,” this time enunciating my every syllable so the woman could understand that I was not pleased with her attitude and lack of respect for anyone other than herself.
At that moment, the back door of the woman’s van slides open, and another, much younger woman, starts to get out of the car, clearly looking for a fight.
She was yelling, asking me if I “want to go,” and man, did I “want to go.” I wanted so badly to unbuckle my seat belt and get out of the car. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins, my heart racing. Instead, I stayed firmly in my seat, buckle still fastened.
“Wow,” is all I said. “Just, wow.”
I am sure that my face said it all, and the third woman, in the front passenger seat was yelling at the woman in the backseat to close the door and get back in the car.
Was this woman really going to throw down with me at a kid’s Halloween festival because her friend was in such a rush to get out of the parking lot one car ahead of us? I know I certainly wasn’t going to get out of the car, but man, did I want to.
20-something Tina would have gotten out of the car. 20-something Tina would have gotten in this woman’s face and caused a scene.
I’ve grown up since I became a mama, but also, soon-to-be-36-year-old Tina has developed compassion for humanity. I realize now, as a mature adult, that everyone is carrying around hurts. Everyone has a story, and that story causes him or her to act in ways that sometimes they might not even be able to understand. And the best thing I can do is to be compassionate.
“Kill them with kindness,” people might say.
It’s kitschy, I know. But maybe if we were all a little kinder to one another, maybe if we all lent a hand instead of taking for ourselves, maybe if we let the other driver go ahead of us, maybe then we could create a happier, kinder, more loving and safer world for our children.
It isn’t easy to do sometimes, especially when you’re confronted with a belligerent, loud, obnoxious woman waving her hands and cursing you out in front of hoards of children dressed in Halloween costumes. But those are the moments when it is most important.
I don’t know at what point society became so selfish, angry, and unkind, but I hope you’ll join me in being kind to one another. I hope that when you’re faced with the opportunity to knock someone out, you choose kindness instead. I hope you are able to take a deep breath and show compassion for their angry soul.
The world needs more love. And it starts with you.