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June 18, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened....

...on the way out of the parking lot this weekend. Apropos of our ongoing discussion on "outdated" gender roles, the Princess thought it might make a useful framework for the lobbing of random gender/sex related snark.

Saturday night after stopping by a local watering hole for a few draft beers and a bite to eat, the Spousal Unit and I drove over to see our local baseball team play ball and watch some fireworks.

After the game we walked back to the car and began the usual mad rush to get out of the parking lot. As usual, the moron brigade were out in force: we were parked in a small adjoining lot with only one exit and no clear path to it (unless one inexplicably considers the paved parts of the lot as having some possible significance to drivers). Consequently, at least three pipelines of cars were feeding into the same bottleneck, after which two more pipelines of cars fed in from the lot above us.

We got to our car early and were perhaps 4 cars back from the stop sign where our lot fed into the main pipeline. So one might think we would get out quickly, being at the head of the line as we were.

Wrong. Cars parked ahead of us (but not yet in line) drove up onto the grass to cut in closer to the stop sign. As we inched forward at speeds approaching 1 MPH, two cars on our right waited to feed into the line. The Spousal Unit made eye contact with the driver of the first car, a young man with a wife and kids shaking his head in mixed amusement and frustration at the many and splendiferous displays of egregious idiocy on offer. The Unit let him in without comment, and we continued talking.

As the young man pulled in ahead of us, another van parked to his right could now be seen. Driving this van was a woman. A large, beefy gentleman (one uses the term loosely) sat half in/half out of the passenger window staring balefully at our car. As we approached, he began waving his arms and demanding that we let their car in too.

The Unit and I looked at each other in disbelief. Up until that point, I had not really been paying close attention as the parking lot was already crammed to bursting with proud, card carrying graduates of the highly esteemed Maryland School of Random Driving. The guy sitting in the window of his van registered, but only in a sort of "Hey - look at the funny monkey!" way. The Unit waves at him cheerily and turns back to what he was looking at earlier.

All of a sudden, Bozo jumps out the window and wades over to our car, yelling and waving his arms in a manner calculated to elicit either fear and trepidation or a fatal attack of eye rolling. Our hero plants himself next to the driver's side window and (perhaps unaware that we could hear him just fine, the pianissimo strains of Def Leppard notwithstanding) demands (!!!) that we open the window, the better to converse with him. The Spousal Unit turns, stares deeply into his Extremely Enraged eyeballs and says, "No", then turns his head back to me. The eyeball owner proceeds with his temper tantrum, much to the amusement of the other drivers, punctuating his diatribe with a few ineffectual thumps to the body of our car.

The car, equally unimpressed by this display of thoroughly masculine (if unmanly) aggression, continues inching forward and we go back to our discussion. Now here's the interesting part (to me, at least). I didn't watch Outraged Dude go back to his car. I found his theatrics embarrassing for some reason, but never felt threatened. It made me uncomfortable watching an ostensible adult lose his temper like that in public over something so trivial.

I didn't know it at the time, but my husband had locked the doors right after we got into the car and joined the line of cars. I doubt I would have thought of that, but then it would never occur to me that some guy would jump out of his car and try to start a fight. But then if I had been driving, it's not obvious to me that that would have happened. I haven't been in anything even resembling a fistfight since Phillip What-his-face tried to tell me that girls shouldn't be allowed play football in the 4th grade.

I guess I shouldn't have tackled him so hard :p The thing is, it did occur to my husband, but then his experience includes other guys trying to start fights.

I might have let the guy in even though he was being a jerk, but then again I might not have. I really dislike people who try to get their way by intimidating others, and Outraged Dude was clearly used to other people backing down in the face of his beefy majesty. I don't know whether I would have looked him right in the eye (twice) the way my husband did, though.

As we pulled onto the road leading out of the parking lot, I did say to him, "You know what would have really made him mad? I should have taken his picture with my iPhone."

Posted by Cassandra at June 18, 2012 12:19 PM

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It sounds like you were on safari:
"And there we were, safely ensconced in our alien steel contrivance, the only barrier between our insatiable human curiosity and the equally insatiable primordial carnivorousness of the howling beasts of the campus velt being a crystalline plane of laminated glass - a veneer of safety as thin and transparent as our own courage - when too our horror Dr. Sampson suddenly broke out in the terrifyingly taunting screeches of over served alpha male frat monkey."Louie Lou-EYE!!!! Louie Lou-EYE!!!"

Posted by: spd rdr at June 18, 2012 04:18 PM

Yanno, I didn't get a good look at the woman driving the van but I suspect she might have been his mother.

He looked to be in his 20s and she looked (at least from a distance) to be 40-ish. Maybe that's why he was so mad...

HE'S STILL LIVING IN MOM'S BASEMENT! :)

Posted by: Cass at June 18, 2012 04:26 PM

...at least three pipelines of cars were feeding into the same bottleneck, after which two more pipelines of cars fed in from the lot above us.

Plainly you never learned to drive in Chicago. Or Manila. Aggressiveness and nose position are everything.

I didn't know it at the time, but my husband had locked the doors right after we got into the car and joined the line of cars.

Now I know you've never spent time in Chicago. Or Manila.

Outraged Dude was clearly used to other people backing down in the face of his beefy majesty.

OD [sic] was a bully, and such are cowards. Just as he never backed up his mouth with your husband who faced him down, so he never would have backed up his mouth had you faced him down.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 18, 2012 04:37 PM

Reminds of driving my 20-year-old 66 Chrysler. If you rubbed against me you lost. If I couldn't see what was going on I could walk up the trunk and onto the roof to look around. Effectively bullet (bully)-proof.

But even then, I disliked situations like yours that would leave me asking - who are these people???? And why are you special??

Posted by: tomg51 at June 18, 2012 04:44 PM

A photo would have been great.
Recording is always fun. In Texas you can record without the others party's knowledge.

Posted by: tomg51 at June 18, 2012 04:50 PM

So, who won the baseball game? Was it the Nationals?

Pretty good this year.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at June 18, 2012 05:04 PM

Plainly you never learned to drive in Chicago. Or Manila. Aggressiveness and nose position are everything.

Oh, I've locked my doors (I do in DC and always have). But out here in the boondocks it just didn't occur to me. I usually try not to let Beltway traffic get to me. You don't get where you're going any faster and when you get there, you're furious and in a bad mood.

The problem is that you never know who is completely insane here.

Several months ago I had a guy behind me who was completely consumed by road rage. It was about 5 am and he was right up on my bumper with his high beams on, deliberately. I just flipped my rear view mirror up and adjusted the side mirror.

Then he got in front of me (on a 4 lane highway, mind you, with no real other traffic to speak of), cut me off, and repeatedly slammed on his brakes to try and force me to rear end him.

I just stayed in my lane and ignored him for a good 25 minutes. Call me stubborn but I was not going to go out of my way to avoid him. I figured the worst revenge was not letting it bug me.

Eventually his exit came up and he left. On the Beltway or 270 I expect that nonsense, but I was surprised to see it in our neck of the woods.

Posted by: Cass at June 18, 2012 05:06 PM

Or Manila.

Now, I have to say that I was really impressed by the orderly nature of traffic in Manila. As opposed to what I saw in China, I mean. It was like Calvinball with cars and trucks.

Here's some good evidence that "masculine" shouldn't be taken as a synonym for "better." Some essentially masculine qualities are quite negative; and being a jackass of this particular type is one of them.

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2012 05:08 PM

Don, sadly we weren't at the Nats game (though we did watch it at the bar - it was in the 12th inning when we left the house - 3-3 Yankees). We ended up losing that one, which bit.

We went to the Keys game here in Fredneck, and once again I did not get my picture taken with my unrequited love interest...

Posted by: Cass at June 18, 2012 05:12 PM

Cass, you and The Unit need to buy an old pick'em up. It's entertaining, if not amusing, to slum around below the radar in said pickup to the impromptu watering-hole events and those involving modern day gladiatorial contests where a subset of the spectators are apt to consider themselves to be Spartacus.

And when the Tasmanian, or Fredneckian devil goes ballistic, it's down right fascinating to watch the primeval urges of Taz/Fred moderate as they considered what kind of people drive old pickups. Especially those optioned out with Easy Rider Rifle Racks™.

Yup, on occasion, you can almost hear their discordant thought-bubble fizzle into submission as they contemplate the pros/cons of their last good carcass whuppin.

With the proper stimulus and setting, such encounters can be as entertaining as a trip to the zoo.

Of course a pickup equipped with real loud air horns, like those on freight trains, unleashed at just the right moment, are a real hoot too!

Then again, neither ERRR™ nor air horns are expected in the family sedan. Just sayin'... ;-}

Posted by: Larry at June 18, 2012 05:57 PM

Speaking of Easy Rider, I can't remember the last time when somebody was rude to me on my motorcycle. Not sure why, but even without doorlocks, something about it disinclines people to trouble you.

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2012 06:02 PM

I imagine it matters somewhat what you're driving. I definitely noticed when we had the RX-7 that it elicited weird, hyper aggressive reactions from men (as in everything suddenly became a freaking competition). They especially hated to be passed by the RX7, even when it was no skin off their nose. The WRX is that way to a lesser extent compared to what we were driving that night (a grey Mazda CX7).

It also seems to matter *where* you're driving. Cities are always worse. You could be driving a mini cooper or a Mack truck and there are idiots who will cut you off. I see them being scraped off the concrete barriers all the time :p You get out here in the country and if the light changes and you don't notice, 98% of the time people patiently wait for you to get a clue. In DC, they fly off the handle.

This guy was just drunk, I think. There's a reason there was a woman driving the van :p

Posted by: Cass at June 18, 2012 06:13 PM

...when we had the RX-7 that it elicited weird, hyper aggressive reactions from men....

Can't be getting passed by one of them girly-cars. That's just not allowed by real men.

This guy was just drunk, I think. There's a reason there was a woman driving the van

In some circles, it's a measure of manhood to get so drunk Mamma has to do the driving. With suitable irritation. In those circles, it's a pity the concrete barriers don't help the gene pool more.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 18, 2012 07:19 PM

I have to say that I was really impressed by the orderly nature of traffic in Manila.

You must have been there at a different time than I. I got to watch the Marcos get tossed. In the year prior and following that period, Manila traffic was truly chaotic.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 18, 2012 07:21 PM

I was there in 2007. Traffic was extremely heavy, but it processed without any difficulty that I could discern. I was genuinely impressed with how well everything seemed to be working, given the amount of traffic going this way and that.

On the other hand, Manila is the only place I've ever had a taxi driver ask me if I wanted a prostitute as part of the service. I politely declined, of course. Well, mostly politely.

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2012 07:29 PM

...a prostitute as part of the service....

They weren't all bad when I was there. Shortly before Marcos and the Queen of Shoes were tossed, the Philippine civilian workers at Clark AB struck, wanting a different contract than the one they'd just signed. They barricaded the bases, essentially shutting down all but essential traffic.

That lasted about a week, and then the surrounding entertainment industry workers--which included bar employees as well as the ladies--literally stoned the strikers off the barricades and forced them back to work. The strike was hurting the entertainers more than it was the base.

Since this action broke up a union strike, I was all for it and them, even though the Philippine unions generally were better behaved than domestic American unions.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 18, 2012 08:05 PM

It's not the prostitutes I have a problem with. I don't have a use for them, either; but I understand about poverty and trying to get by in a bad situation.

The men who live off them, with them I have a problem.

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2012 08:10 PM

I should have taken his picture with my iPhone.

You totally should have.

We went to the Keys game here in Fredneck

It's always funny when one 'runs into' complete strangers who live in places where one used to live.

Posted by: Brian Dunbar at June 18, 2012 08:22 PM

"...when we had the RX-7 that it elicited weird, hyper aggressive reactions from men....

Can't be getting passed by one of them girly-cars. That's just not allowed by real men."

The iddy biddy car I bought on a whim and for something to do a couple or a few years back, the Toyota Supra, seems to jostle some egos similarly. I suppose it's due to its oriental genes and the fact that it's missing a couple of cylinders. That it runs like a scalded dog and handles like a go-kart probably does not help matters any. And if I act my age and short-shift, it'll get ≈30MPG. Even so, I have to admit that I still prefer driving my ancient pickup to any of our other zippy and/or more comfy vehicles. It's an honest to goodness SNV, Stealth Neanderthal Vehicle...

"Yanno, I didn't get a good look at the woman driving the van but I suspect she might have been his mother."

Yah. Maybe Joe DaErta was just having a life's complicated moment and expressing his frustration in the only way he knows. Maybe he just discovered that his grandma booked him on the Jerry Springer Show and he needed to get out of the van for a moment.

"Cities are always worse. You could be driving a mini cooper or a Mack truck and there are idiots who will cut you off. I see them being scraped off the concrete barriers all the time :p"

Ah... How I miss rush hour, or any hour, on The Beltway. NOT!

Posted by: bthun at June 18, 2012 08:37 PM

One of the things I like about living in the boonies after having lived in a big city all my life is that people here drive as if they expected at least someone in one of the nearby cars to recognize them and maybe to be a neighbor. For true jerkness behind the wheel, you need anonymity.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 18, 2012 11:22 PM

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