Today some guy flipped me the middle finger. This is not a terribly unusual occurrence but this one, given what's going on in the world, was slightly different. At least for me. Here's what happened: I was driving along and he was driving in the opposite direction towards me. He had left the ticket on his window under the driver's side wiper but the envelope was open. The little blue and white ticket was there flapping in the breeze. When he saw me, he stuck his arm out the window and flipped me "the bird" as they say (although honestly I don't know why they call it that). It struck me funny and I laughed. He saw me laughing which gave me no end of pleasure (twisting the knife, I believe that's called). I didn't even write him that ticket, of that I was sure. But my enjoyment of the moment soon gave way to a different feeling. I don't know, empathy maybe. I understood his frustration and the futile gesture it caused. This might have made him feel better momentarily but really had no effect on the situation whatsoever. And that's what I started thinking about.
I'm extremely upset about the gulf coast oil spill. This is turning into a gigantic ecological disaster. I feel upset, and angry, and...powerless. Just like that poor guy must have felt. I have made my displeasure with the situation known on other websites that I frequent and I really began to see the futility of my gestures too. They made me feel better (slightly) just to vent, but really what effect would they have?
I wanted to go find that guy and tell him this: I understand your taking your frustration out on me by saluting me as you did but it won't change the fact that you got the darned thing for parking illegally. If you really want to do something, run for city council and then have those signs changed (you know, those signs you didn't obey). Then and only then will you really get the satisfaction you are looking for. This is not easy and it's a long and, I suppose, arduous way of making that change but there's not much else you can do.
What can I do about the oil spill? Run for Congress? That's about it. Make new laws so these kinds of things can't happen again. I suppose both he and I could write to our appropriate representatives but let's face it, that won't do much to make us feel any better. The world is ours. We should become the change we want to see, to quote Gandhi. Which is certainly easier said than done.
Did you ever think you'd see the Mahatma's name in this blog? Be honest.
Nope, me neither.