My imperfections are not few, but I think some of the worst ones are evident when I'm in such a hurry I forego minor laws and basic human courtesy. Nothing good comes from rushing. Case in point, several weeks ago we were thisclose to running late to an obligation and I chose to, just this once, turn right at the stoplight closest to our house, despite the prominent "No Turn on Red" sign. Sure enough, there was a police officer in the vicinity who witnessed my mistake and pulled me over. It was my first time ever getting pulled over and I didn't cry like I always assumed I would, even though the boys were asking me if I was going to jail. Instead, the first thing I said to the officer was, "I know exactly what I did wrong and I'm sorry." Fortunately, he was in a forgiving mood and I got off with a warning.
It's funny because, as R will be sure to tell you, I ordinarily won't even jaywalk because it's against the law. And, as R will also attest, I tend towards what he calls overly-PC and what I consider walking a mile in someone else's shoes. Kurt Vonnegut succinctly stated my life's goal, "God damn it, you've got to be kind."
When I fail in that regard, I want to cry and I get an empty hurt in the pit of my stomach. I had such an encounter today and it was all my fault.
We had a busy morning. We went to a playdate, then a toy store to get gift ideas as we have a birthday party every Saturday for the next four weekends. Last stop was the library. I park and let the kids out through Curly's side of the car. While making sure he's safe, Slim pushes the door hard to get out. It hits the car next to us. I register that the car is running; the driver is in the car. I reprimand Slim, insisting he needs to pay better attention to his surroundings. I'm mortified. But I'm also single-minded in my purpose - we have to get in and out of the library fast, make it home to eat lunch, load up the backpack with snack, note, and folder, then meet the pm kindergarten bus. The car that was hit by our door has its reverse lights on; the driver is leaving. Ok then, my brain's focused on the to-do list. We need to hurry.
Walking now, we're five cars away when I hear a loud, "What do you think you're doing?" I know who it is. I know they are talking to me. But the tone of voice raises my hackles and I turn around and defensively respond, "Excuse me?" A blonde woman, about my age, looks at me disdainfully. She says something else caustically. I walk towards her and ask her to please cut the sarcasm in front of my kids. She does. She points out the mark on her door that matches the color of mine. I hadn't noticed. I want to melt from embarrassment. She dresses me down calmly, deservedly.
I profusely apologize. I explain that my focus isn't where it should be. I offer my insurance information. I want to prove that I'm actually a very nice person. She won't take it, any of it. All she wants is something impossible. For me to go back in time and say I'm sorry without prompting. That it was bad enough when people walk away from things like that when the driver isn't there, but it is worse when they are.
It is too late. The damage is done. Literally and figuratively. She is right and I darn well know it. She doesn't take anything from me, but imparts a final message. Her point sounds like something you'd hear in a horror movie, "Just don't let yourself do this again."