Yay not being a douche!
I realize that the title of this post is a bit off-brand for me, but I couldn’t think of anything sugar-coated to really sum up my morning.
Around 11am, I headed off to my usual coffee spot to get some work done. On my walk, I greeted the guy who owns the antique store, the waiters at the local outdoor diner and the man who owns the men’s clothing store. We talked about how we both have bad knees and I asked how his is holding up with the storm coming.
When I walked into the cafe, there was one man in front of me — 30’s hipster type, not particularly off-putting or daunting, just standard Montclair Freelancer Man. And then I heard him say something odd but couldn’t make out what it was. All I knew is that it was rude — no, beyond rude, it was some sort of attack. Everyone around him stopped and stared. He puffed up his chest and locked eyes with one of my favorite baristas. She stood dumfounded at what to stay. A few moments later, he stormed out.
“Whhaaaat was that about?” I asked. She looked startled.
“He stared into my eyes for a really long time in silence and then asked why I was charging him for a refill. Then he wouldn’t stop staring. I didn’t know what to do. It freaked me out.”
The other baristas and I helped her shake off his weirdness. Meanwhile, that a-hole went on about his day.
I headed home later, the weirdness of the guy behind me and, it seemed, behind the barista as well. I crossed the street and found myself in the pathway of a woman about my age hurrying somewhere. We did that awkward which-way-are-you going dance and when I smiled and said, “Excuse me,” she rolled her eyes and made a childish huffing sound past me. Something in the air today, I thought.
On the rest of my walk, I pondered what life must be like to carry anger and fear around on the surface that way. No matter where it comes from — pride, righteousness, exhaustion — that behavior must all go back to anger and fear. And however it appears, it’s rarely about the person receiving it, if ever. Still, do these people even know how much they’re missing out on by projecting their anger everywhere?
Quick note: Please know I am talking about people who have the ability to seek help for mental health issues. I’ve struggled with problems for years — in some phases of my life, serious ones. If my anger or anxiety gets out of control, I seek help and I realize I have that I privilege to do so. It is within my power, and therefore if my responsibility, to not redirect it toward the rest of the world. In this post, I’m speaking about the regular schmo carrying their rudeness about like a badge of honor.