So last night, as I was leaving Manhattan around 8pm, it happened. I was heading south on Third Avenue, one block before Delancy Street and my left turn towards the Williamsburg Bridge, when traffic backed up in my lane. The lane to my left was clear, though. I decided to get over.
There was a motor scooter traveling directly behind me that decided to get over at exactly the same time as me.
Then the guy banged my driver’s side rear window with his with his fist. I heard the sound of metal contacting glass. Hard. I thought my window was going to shatter. My physical boundaries felt breached, or at least threatened. I said, “Do not touch my vehicle!”
Before I could finish the thought I was heading down the clear lane, stopping my truck beside the scooter to my right, and lowering my front passenger-side window.
Scooter-man looked over at me.
I said, “You have an anger management problem!”
Smiling an I-hope-you’re-not-some-crazy-person-because-I-really-didn’t-mean-anything-by-all-that-yelling-business smile, he said, “What?”
I repeated, with my index finger wagging as I leaned across my front passenger seat, “You have an anger management problem and need to get some help!”
He said, still smiling that smile, “I don’t have an anger management problem. I have a problem with women drivers who don’t know how to drive.”
During this exchange, I wavered between wanting to cease immediately and drive on, and also wanting to engage him. All kinds of impressions and thoughts ran through my mind. What stunningly straight white teeth he has; whoever worked on his teeth did a great job.
“Well I have a problem with people who don’t obey traffic rules and then become enraged.”
“I didn’t obey the traffic rules?” he asked incredulously, “You didn’t obey the traffic rules either!”
How come the woman on the back of his bike isn’t saying anything? She knows I’m right about him. Maybe she’s a girlfriend and is on good behavior. Is he wearing a wedding ring? Nope.
“Yeah, well, you need to learn to manage your anger.”
“I don’t have an anger management problem. Women buy these big SUVs and use them as bumpers because they don’t know how to drive. That’s the problem.”
I sneered back at him, looking him in the eye, “You’re single aren’t you?”
His eyes widened. He looked non-plussed. He said nothing.
I raised my window and drove off.
Then I laughed. I felt the thrill of Zinger victory.
Ever since 9/11 my soul has been encased in a Titanic-sinking-sized iceberg of fear. It’s been seven years, just about. Apparently, the ice is finally melting–and at a rapid rate. So, while normally I might acknowledge that women, particularly nice, Christian, women, don’t do this kind of thing (sneering, indeed!), instead I am savoring what it was like to not be afraid, and careful, and nervous, and unable to say words that I know should be said to address grievances that I know need addressing. Maybe freedom is another opposite of fear.
This fear of mine was birthed through events that transpired in Manhattan. How apropos that events transpiring in Manhattan should herald the fear’s demise.