Monday, March 22, 2010

The Church Lady

This weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing a lapse of manners; not from a child, but from an adult. Manners, usually are the first lessons most of us remember being taught. Please and thank you, are the basics that every kid learns. It is reasonable to expect that even a grade school kid can master this technique. But, what happens when what is wanted and expected does not happen? Normally, the first response is to get angry, even though, this might makes the situation worse. For example, a waiter brings the food out cold. You could either rant and rave, or try to sympathize with the waiter. Most times than not, the sympathy will elicit a better outcome. Taking the bird out for a wagging will not make your food turn out any better, it will probably make it worse.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of driving my youngest employee (F) and her one of her coworkers to a birthday party about 30 minutes away from our home. It was a lovely event, and my car was full of smiles and lively stories about all the children at the party. I proceeded to drop the coworker off at her family home for a barbecue, and then return home with my happy little employee (F). We pull up to an intersection on a 4 lane road at a red light. Apparently, the car beside me had waved the car opposing us to go ahead and make the left turn across traffic. As I am not and have never been psychic, I was unaware of that gesture. The light turned green, the opposing car began turn. I was creeping forward, but I stopped when I saw the bold turning maneuver, and let them turn. Here is where it got funny: I know the family driving in the other car. They are from the church and school that my employees attend. Interestingly, the father laid on the horn, and the lovely, demure, church going mother, that I see at school gave me an evil scowl and flipped me the bird in a very aggressive way. Needless to say, I was shocked. F, in the back seat, commented on the bird: "Why did she do that Mummy?". F recognized the woman too.

Admittedly, I was angry and thought about returning the gesture for a split second. Then, I realized that might not be good idea, considering F was watching my every move. I told F that they must be having a bad day, and they certainly would not have flipped us the bird if they knew it was us. F replied, "Even if it was not us, Mummy, that was not very nice". Simply and accurately stated by a kindergartner. Flipping the bird is not a tactful response.

I do not know if this family has any idea that I knew them. It is quite possible, this same moment has occurred to me without knowing. Not that I am in the habit of having road rage, but I will admit to partaking to it in my lifetime. All things considered, I will never tell them that I saw them flipping my daughter and I off.

When the windows are up, the traffic is heavy, and time is precious: the mixture is perfect for inconsiderate, rude, nasty, and ugly road rage. Although, there may be a feeling that no one will recognize you: BEWARE. The next time the bird angrily erupts while driving your car, be careful. The driver beside you just might be your neighbor, your elderly mother, your priest, your rabbi, your child, or your friend. I just hope F does not go to school and tell her friend, "Hey! I saw your family yesterday and your Mum flipped us off!".


  1. Like the church lady story...nicely put! i put your blog on my favorites...a first for me! keep writing...


  2. Have seen similar behaviors - always disappointing... Hopefully, they, at least, have the grace to be a bit embarrassed .... though never sure with this kind of thing...UGLY, huh? Glad you've maintained the higher ground ;-).

  3. I loved the Whitman poem you posted at Motherese and came to visit. I agree that manners are very important, not the manners of social politics (which are important), but the true manners of caring about others and helping them feel comfortable.

    I guess as parents we learn that it's more about giving love than trying to get it, perhaps the same goes for manners. I always tell my kids that people who feel good about themselves are kind, therefore rudeness is a sign of low-self-esteem.

    One caveat though, fear also breeds aggression and I think this is a big part of road rage—the surge of adrenaline from any close call evokes that fight flight response. I guess the bird is a creature who aggresses at the same time as it flies away :)


  4. Gasp!

    I think of myself as a very polite person, but something comes over me occasionally when I drive. I'm so glad you mentioned this ugly incident - it can serve as a cautionary tale to me to practice what I preach all the time. And not just because you never know who might be watching!

    By the way, I'm so delighted to see my buddy Privilege of Parenting commenting here. A union of one of my perennial favorites and one of my new favorites in this lovely blogging world!

  5. Kristen,

    Thank you for the compliment.
    I think it is so ironic how we change behind the wheel. It is as if we think no one will see who it is. I know I will be very cautionary as well, this is a small world and it seems to be getting smaller.

  6. Oh, it's so interesting how people act differently when they don't think they are being watched - or when they think only strangers are around. I've realized, even in a city like Minneapolis, it is a small world. It's surprising when and where you run into people you know.

  7. I was babysitting as a teenager when the grandma called. I had a lovely short chat with her about where the parents were and what the grandkids were up to. Then, in the middle of the conversation, something weird happened to the phone line. I could hear her, but she couldn't hear me. She said, "Hello? Hello? You hung up on me, you little bitch!" Now, when anyone cuts out on me on the phone, I'm always very careful to politely end my side of the conversation to myself, since the other person very well may still be able to hear me!!

  8. Amber,
    That is a very funny story. Even funnier how well it stayed in your memory. One of those , I will never forget that moments.