Dear Guy in the Pick up Truck Leaving the Parking Lot,
The time was approximately 6:43pm on Thursday evening. I was pulling into the parking lot off of Civic Centre Road, while you were waiting to pull out of the same parking lot onto the road. I failed to signal my turn. It was 28C (after reaching a high of 35C earlier in the day) and both of my front windows were open. As I turned into the lot, you said, loudly enough to ensure that I heard you, “nice signal.” Kind of snide, maybe unnecessary, definitely infuriating, but you weren’t wrong. I was.
Without hesitation or a moment of self-reflection, and for that split second, without regret I answered, equally snidely and loudly enough to ensure that you heard me, “Oh, shut up!” Then, for a few seconds, we were driving parallel to one another, you on the road, me in the parking lot, separated by the tree-lined grassy swale. I saw you look over and with my arm out the window, hanging down the side of my door (out of sight of my children, but still, right?), I flipped you off.
A moment later, I parked my minivan, unpacked my brood, found a spot at a picnic table beside the pitch my son would be playing at and finally, after a very long, full day that started at 6:30 am with four kids, and peaked three hours before soccer with a drive to and from Thornhill during rush hour, while one kid puked in a bag and the other three alternated between squabbling, singing too loudly and starting car games with ever-changing rules (sometimes all at once), I finally had a moment to breathe in deeply.
And then I was mortified. At the exchange that I had just participated in and escalated with you, a complete stranger. So I am writing this letter of apology, to you, the guy in the pick up truck, leaving the soccer fields by the ROC on Thursday evening. I was in the wrong, I didn’t signal my turn and caused you to delay your turn onto the roadway unnecessarily. What if you were just trying to get home after a long day of your own? In that moment, I didn’t care. I was fed up with being in a car, I was inconsiderate and thoughtless. Rather than throwing out a quick (yet sincere) apology to acknowledge how I inconvenienced you, I reacted defensively, even aggressively. In that nano-second, I justified it with righteous indignation because how dare YOU have the NERVE to call me out on my mistake/shitty choice/inconsiderate action?
I behaved in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything that I believe in. In direct opposition to the lessons that I spend my days teaching and encouraging my children to learn about how to react to criticism, real or imagined, deserved or harsh. About how to deal with conflict and how to treat others.
So, I owe you an apology. I am sorry. The lady in the blue minivan was 100% in the wrong and you were right.
I will use this event as a learning moment for myself and endeavour to govern myself with the dignity, grace and kindness to which I aspire. Especially in situations when I’m (rightfully) called out for being the jerk.
I wish you a trouble-free day on the roads and the safest travels.
The imperfect, over-tired, over-heated, and grumpy minivan driver.
P.S. If it makes you feel any better, I was faced with the most obnoxious and unnecessary high beams from an oncoming car on the way home later that evening. I pulled over to the side of the road to wait (driving blind is ill-advised) and didn’t flip the bird as they passed.
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