Resisting an affront (however warranted the incisive retort) may prove to be its own undoing. As I’ve heard it said by those whose wisdom I admire, “Let the shit go down the street!” Sometimes it is better to step aside without engaging in contradiction or lapsing irretrievably into the popular vernacular. Inexplicably today I chose instead to stand my ground. Literally.
In retrospect the bravado is a small complement. The peculiar and ill-founded confrontation arose at the corner of Church Street and Country Street on a balmy summer morning while we were cheerfully bicycling throughout the neighbourhood with the walkers and parents behind perambulators. My opponent was a young woman in a small car with an infant child glued to the back seat. I was stopped on my bicycle at the intersection chatting with a neighbour and her granddaughter on the sidewalk. The woman driver approached the intersection from behind me and decided she would not move further until I removed myself. I shifted myself and the bicycle between my legs immediately adjacent the curb. The woman determined the evaporation was insufficient. My chatting companion invited the driver to proceed through the large intersection. The only other automobile was another small car which approached the woman from the rear. Soon the young driver in the second car – with characteristic youthful irritability – honked his horn. He shouted to the woman in the first car to move on. She in turn resisted.
When both I, my companion and the woman in the first car remained as we were (the granddaughter clinging to her ancestor), the youngster in the second car at last accepted the inutility of waiting any longer. In as much flurry as he could put together with his rage and Singer sewing machine, he swirled past the woman driver and me spewing invectives. I returned the favour with something as punishing as, “Oh grow up!” At this juncture the woman in the first car relented and began proceeding directly (that is, without turning) through the intersection but not before careening her neck toward the passenger window to shout some histrionic rules of the road. It was at this point I overheard my fellow gossip say, “Way don’t you ask him, he’s a lawyer!”
It wasn’t the celebrity I wished at that moment. The event was beyond control. But I hadn’t a scrap of remorse for having stood my ground – or, more accurately for having buttressed myself against the curb. The aggressive woman in the car was clearly bent upon relieving herself of some prior – and I presume superior – conflict. There was no reason in the world for her to have pretended she could not swiftly and safely proceed through the intersection. Which she finally did. My sidewalk companion and I merely raised our eyes and shook our heads.
Nonetheless I despise unnecessary conflict. Invariably such carping is trifling and wasteful. It must be another sign of my descent into old age that I can no longer tolerate what to me is blatant bloodymindedness such as this woman’s street side scene today. I suspect my companion correctly opined that many people today are anxious. On the other hand, as Chis Rock observed, “Whatever happened to crazy!” I admonish myself for having ignored my own cautionary prediction in these and like matters; namely, “What was your first clue!”
If I were to presume an iota of rationality, it hardly bears note that if something smells like a rat, it should be addressed accordingly. Seldom does that recognition entail a brawl or cat fight. Quibbling and pointing the finger are utterly inappropriate. Basically fighting with people is universally unsuitable. Besides any battles I’ve ever won were won on the strength of more than name calling.