For the second time in a week, I got screamed at this morning.

The first time was on Friday, in a bar, by someone I used to consider a friendly acquaintance – while I was surprised, I have to admit that his behavior at the bar fits my image of him as a person. He called me a “fat loser,” among other choice phrases, after making snarky comments to a friend of mine.

I work in an office complex. There are six buildings in the complex, and one main drive that leads to all of them. I was headed down the main drive today, doing the speed limit (which is 35 for that driveway, I might add), when another car came up and passed me on the left – the driver crossed double-yellow lines and passed me on a curve to do it. I beeped my horn, and her passenger turned around and gave me the finger.

I followed her into my parking lot – she even parked in the same row as me – and I pulled up behind her car and rolled down my window as she opened her door. Before I could even open my mouth, she got out and started screaming at me, “What? What you got to say to me? What the fuck you think you got to say?” I immediately started shaking – that fight-or-flight response, I’m sure – and said, “Do you realize what you just did was incredibly dangerous?” She continued to scream at me, saying things like, “I knew what the fuck I was doing, I looked where the fuck I was going, so you don’t need to come at me, you just leave me the fuck alone. You don’t need to approach me. You don’t step to me.”

Sigh. After what seemed like an hour (but was really less than a minute) of her screaming, I just rolled up my window and pulled away. I had enough sense to wait until she was in the building before getting out of my car and going inside – I watched as she and her two passengers crossed the parking lot, laughing and joking. Then I circled around and found her car again, so I recorded her license plate number. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with it, if anything.

But it’s frustrating. I mean, in both situations, the other person was the aggressor – on Friday, it was this former acquaintance, and today it was the other driver. In both instances, their behavior was inappropriate for the situation. I called them out on their behavior without yelling, cursing (although I admit that I dropped a few curses myself at the bar after receiving them), or making personal threats or insults. And both of them reacted in ways that were really out-of-control.

Other people have already said to me (at least about the bar) that I shouldn’t have said anything to the other person, that I should have just left it alone and walked away. But I wasn’t the one who was inappropriately antagonistic; I was simply trying to remind these two people that they have an obligation, as adults, to act like adults – and both reacted like children. But still, somehow, it’s my fault, right?

I’m not going to walk through life with my head down, ignoring what happens in the world that may be distasteful or offensive. I’m tired of the bullies thinking they can shove everyone off the swings without someone finally standing up to them. Of course, on the playground, that’s heroic behavior. In the real world, it’s considered stupid. Why is that?

Donna said to me, after the incident at the bar, “Well, what did you expect would happen?” Honestly? Not that. I expected that he would have been rude, yes, and perhaps defensive. But I expected after that, he would have calmed down and we could have toasted the awkwardness over a beer, as we’ve done in the past. And this morning, if you ask me the same question, I’ll tell you – I expected the other driver to be rude. I expected her to roll her eyes and wave me off, because that’s what most drivers would do – people certainly don’t like to be called out on their bad driving habits. And I would have driven away, having said my piece. I certainly didn’t expect her to completely flip out the way she did.

And now I’m sort of wondering: what’s going to happen to my car today? Her aggression was such that I can imagine she’ll be angry all day, and her inability to contain her temper suggests that I may find she’s taken it out on my car. I wonder if I can expect to find that someone has keyed my car when I leave tonight at 5.

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