I got in my first city stranger conflict a couple of days ago. It was strangely island-style because although the girl was a bitch, it was like she knew the whole thing was her fault and acted pretty guilty as she yelled at me the whole time. (Here are a examples, just as reminders if you're interested.) However, unlike island encounters where I felt like community was advanced because we had simply added another thread of interaction to the web, this just left me feeling jittery (after my massage, no less) with the adrenaline that was coursing through me. So, I was parking in the parallel spot near my apartment. It was the spot on the end, so the area in front of my car would usually be wide open. That night, a big mini-van was sitting all skewed to the sidewalk with people in it, just waiting for something. So, I treated it just like it was another parking spot and pulled up alongside the mini-van in order to back into the spot. I knew it would be tight, but I figured that once the driver saw me, she would pull forward a little. Well, she didn't and that was fine; I would still fit. I proceeded to park and I bumped her car twice. No big deal. Happens all the time. But, she gets out with her Urban Outfitters look blaring and walked past her Indiana license plates so I roll down the window and smile at her and say something mildly apologetic about just trying to get parked. She starts raging about how I've "rammed" her car. I told her I didn't mean to ram her car, I was just trying to get into the spot. "Well, you could have asked!" I stayed conversational through the whole affair and said in an almost bewildered tone, "I was a little surprised when you didn't pull forward when I pulled up alongside you." At this point, she starts sputtering a little and that was when I realized she was venting some other problem at me as an easy target because realization of her own responsibility flooded her eyes but she just kept yelling, saying something else about hitting her. Remembering her license plates, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "That's just parallel parking in the city." She said, in that pretty-college-girl tone of voice, "You're a f---ing rude bitch, you know?" I just shrugged my shoulders again. Then, oddly she starts pointing to the no parking sign that I'm well behind and she's definitely in front of and starts threatening to have my car ticketed. The sputtering at this point increased, I think because she realized that technically, she was illegally standing and blocking a legal parking space. She then stalked back to her mini-van. I wrote down her plate number and went calmly into my apartment building. It was a little like an island fight, but there's no reflection inspired. This doesn't build community. I don't learn anything about myself or someone else that I might have a deeper relationship later. It's just ugly.
Today, I watched the 5:00 CBS news and the 9:00 WGN news because I had been interviewed by both stations regarding the volunteer project I was supervising. I had 40 teenagers in my warehouse today as part of the service project element of their 30-Hour Famine, which is a project to raise money and awareness about world hunger. It was a good media event, so the two stations came by. Both interviewers seemed surprised and a little appreciative when they told me that I did well after the interviews. I had a little coaching by our marketing staff about restating the question when I answered to create a sound bite and about using the company name as much as possible. The marketing staff also gave me a fact sheet to refer to for statistics and stuff. I was not savvy enough to stand in front of boxes with the corporate logo, but, hey, you've got to leave some room for improvement, right? Actually, one of the marketing staff was there and she said I did a nice job. See Dad, all that money spent on performance education was worth something. Unfortunately, neither program aired the segment, I think because basketball games ran into overtime for both. Too bad.
I walk by a used car lot on my way to work. Yesterday, a tan Buick that had to be from the late 80s with a fair amount of rust and small dents proclaimed itself in white paint on the windshield to be, "GAS SAVEY." I thought that to be quite funny.
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