Funny how, when someone does something wrong, and you don’t stand for it, they talk about “your problem,” when in fact they are the one who created the problem. In this case, I was walking from my car to the supermarket entrance, when a man in a truck quickly turned a corner of the parking lot. I thought about stopping and letting him go by, but I get tired of giving the right of way to impatient drivers, plus then I have to breathe their exhaust. So I decided to just walk across.
At this point, I’m used to drivers who slow down but do not stop, despite 1) the disrespect that demonstrates for the human being in front of the several tons of steel they are maneuvering and 2) the fact that it’s the law to stop for pedestrians. But this guy didn’t even slow down. He just kept driving, as if nobody was crossing in front of him. This with his daughter in the passenger seat. “You can stop,” I said, as he passed me.
I get afraid of saying anything, because the response is typically one not of contrition, but rather, of amplified aggression – a defense of what that person has done and a verbal assault on top of whatever already happened. Once, the first time I said anything about someone coming right into my body space (without touching me, but coming in so close and so fast that it sets me into fight-flight mode and activates a pain spasm), the woman replied by calling me a “fat, angry girl.” In fact, she started yelling it at me, right in the middle of Whole Foods market in Sherman Oaks, CA, and the staff did nothing. If anything, they seemed to blame me for the disturbance and agree with her, being that I was, by that point, extremely upset.
I was in fact so traumatized by the incident that I was unable to write about it until now, nine years later. And despite being a characteristically outspoken and assertive individual, I have since found it very difficult to call people on behavior that is not blatantly obvious.
We live in a society that defines violence as the act that is the gross manifestation of violence – ie, someone needs to be stabbed or shot or hit, preferably with blood and broken something or other as evidence that “something happened.” It is difficult to confront violence in its core, ie, energetic violence, such as the disrespect of someone else’s space – by driving too close to the car in front, with no consideration of the impact on the person in that car; by driving forward, no matter how slowly, when a human being is in front of the car, still crossing the street; by swopping into someone’s body space, so close that it’s a hair’s breadth away, and sometimes even crashing into someone’s body space, without apologizing.
Despite the fact that there are tens of millions of Americans with invisible disability and hypersensitivity, those I confront act as if they did nothing wrong and as if I am crazy – literally, I have been called mentally ill for confronting someone on inappropriate and inconsiderate behavior, like allowing a dog to charge at me, while standing by and doing nothing to stop it.
I feel overwhelmed. And because nobody can see the impact on me, and because our society is so incredibly insensitive, and because confronting someone’s behavior just ends up escalating the situation, while failing to “undo” what has happened, I say nothing. But I still suffer.
Anyhow, I want to swim now – part of dealing with the fallout of someone’s thoughtless actions is having my time stolen from me, in one form or another. So I’m going to wrap up for now. But I have a shit ton of things to say on topic. I’ll just end by saying that I saw the father-daughter duo in the supermarket. I approached the father (driver) and said, “You really do need to stop for pedestrians.” He said, “I don’t know what your problem was, you had space.” I said, “You need to stop for pedestrians.” His daughter stepped in between her father and me, with her back to me, and said, “Come on, let’s get out of here” and took off into the market.
I didn’t have the energy or commitment level to follow them.