Thursday, October 11, 2007


[A] dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot. -R.A. Heinlein

So I stopped by work to grab my paycheck while running errands this morning. The outpost of the International Petroleum Conspiracy is co-located with an outlet of Mega Fast Food, and the joint was packed with the breakfast crowd. I nosed the Zed Three into the conga line snaking towards the parking lot's egress and patiently inched along.

Just as I was only one car away from making my escape, the van immediately ahead of my car shifted into reverse and began to twitch backwards, obviously intending to reverse into a parking spot just off my starboard bow. Since his current course was plotted right through the center of my engine compartment, I glanced in my rearview to ascertain that I had room between me and the Essyouvee astern, selected reverse myself, and tapped my horn to warn the approaching van of my presence.

He altered neither speed nor course, and continued rearward. I hopped the Bimmer adroitly out of his path and tapped the horn again to make him aware of the fate that had been so narrowly averted. Leaning out the driver's window, toothpick firmly clenched in his prognathous jaw, he yelled "Hey! You gotta f*%#$in' problem?" in the mellifluous accent of one of those Northeastern Megalopolii known far and wide for their manners. A problem? Me? With some ill-bred jackanape attempting to park his dented '79 Econoline in my passenger seat? No, no problem at all. I smiled politely at the poor, benighted lout and continued on, serenaded on my way by an ever-fainter string of obsceneties sung in the dulcet tones of his native land.

What would Miss Manners do? The fact that I am typing this from home and not a prison cell will tell you that I didn't do what I wanted to do. But only because I keep forgetting to put my seconds on speed dial.


Anonymous said...

You showed admirable restraint. I've been known to blow kisses at people who act in that manner. Granted, it has an odd effect coming from a bearded fat guy. One or two have shown signs of incipient apoplexy.

Tam said...

I must admit to thinking "Listen, you semi-evolved protosimian, thousands of people around the world are going to be laughing at you within the hour." to myself. But I did not allow the thought to disturb my benign smile.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately for him "An armed society is a polite society...".

Anonymous said...

Taser him senseless and pull him out of his vehicle while yelling "Help! Help!". Call 911 while he is on the ground twitching and accuse him of assault.

That or just grin at him and wave.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe plant a fake Handicapped parking sign on his spot and have him towed?

Anonymous said...

One thing I noticed when I started carrying daily was that the level of crap I was willing to shrug off went up dramatically.

Contrary to the anti's hysterical claims that people, given access to firearms, suddenly turn into irrational murder machines, I found that having the piece on my belt was a rather calming experience.

After all, if it's not worth drawing and ventilating him over, it's really not worth getting upset about.


Oleg Volk said...

Next time, post the simian's photo.

BobG said...

Unless a bad driver actually hits you, they're only annoying, sort of like a persistent mosquito. And life is too short to worry about the bugs on the windshield.

theirritablearchitect said...

...or put yourself half-way into the cab through his open window and promise to pull him out of the van and beat him senseless with your bare hands.

My wife has lost count of how many times I've done this routine. Universally, the asshole gets the message.

Anonymous said...

I've been witness to a few beatings administered to yankees (not to be confused with copperheads) whom haven't figured out the method of social interaction down here differs greatly from what they're used to. Getting in someone's face and cussing yourself into an embolism, even though you don't actually intend to fight, is seen as an open invitation to lumpy-up your head.

Anonymous said...

Not being there, may I opine that perhaps he :
A. did not notice you and
B. Couldn't figure out what the heck the chick inthe fancy-smancy roadster was honking him so rudely.

Have you seen the blind spots on an econoline? Seriously, they are like a blimp.

That being said, he sounds like a moron.

All the more reason to replace that useless right hand seat with the low profile pop-up remote .50 cal mount. (My co -pilot is... )

Man, I sat in one those roadsters this weekend, it must be nice to be under about 6'4" because at 6'7" they are a wicked evil tease. (Ha, no car for you!)

Carteach said...

All in all, you probably did what was best.

We can all come up with fun ways to make the idiots day turn into utter poo, but.... think about it a moment.... is there any chance this guys day is anything BUT crap already?

With an attitude like that, would any decent person have anything to do with him? Does he have any friends? Does he know anyone who would care to be near him for more than 30 seconds?

I used to get real up in peoples faces when they did things like that... not any more. Why bother? What could I possibly do that's worse than the curse they already live under..... they have to wake up with themselves in the morning.


To curse him out, or better yet pound him.... would only make his day. Far better to smile a sunny smile at him, wave, and say "Have a GREAT DAY!" That will piss him off more than anything else.

Cybrludite said...

Sounds like he was a prime candidate for a little Corrective Phreneology...

Anonymous said...

(Stupid blogger lost my original comment.)

You met a denizen of New York city, or, alternatively, a Bostonian. However, in my experience, Bostonians curse less and grunt more.

Word of advice: Using erudite words on them will usually result in a beating. Cursing is apparently perfectly normal to them. Not everyone in Yankeeland behaves as such, but those city centers are nightmares. (Protip: Anyone who considers themselves a city's resident, despite not even living in that city, is probably a jackass.)

Pray to god you never encounter a gaggle of NYC women. It is like Sex in the City: you'll want to kill all of them.

In order to prevent troglodytes from ramming into your car, you should mount a spar torpedo on the end of it. Failing that, a strong steel pole to pierce their car bodies.

Word verification: hlczux

Anonymous said...

A "dented '79 Econoline" speaks volumes as to his level of intelligence and income.

A cursory wave of the middle digit would be sufficient to appease my more strident response inclinations.

Anonymous said...

"Who is..... Carteach0? said...
To curse him out, or better yet pound him.... would only make his day."

I'm pretty sure beating the mortal hell out of him wouldn't have made his day.

"Gmac said...
A "dented '79 Econoline" speaks volumes as to his level of intelligence and income."

Wow. Do you also spit on waitresses and jiffy lube employees?

Anonymous said...


You get to continue being you.

He has to continue being him.

You win.

Anonymous said...

"...or put yourself half-way into the cab through his open window and promise to pull him out of the van and beat him senseless with your bare hands.

My wife has lost count of how many times I've done this routine. Universally, the asshole gets the message."

Not the brightest way to handle such things. If you don't get yourself shot/stabbed, you might suddenly get taken for a ride as the panicked driver pops the clutch/hits the gas. Should something bad like this happen, I doubt the driver would get in too much trouble, since you 'put yourself halfway in the cab.'

Overall, Tam did the best possible thing. Nobody got hurt, the clod got ultimately laughed at, and we got entertained.

phlegmfatale said...

Thank goodness you were so on your toes. When someone misguidedly directs their road rage at me, I shrug my shoulders as if to say "silly me," grin and sorta wave. I have literally seen a jaw drop, and that's like winning every time at rock/paper/scissors. And how dare they, by the way.

Jay G said...

I would have calmly walked up to the window of the van and asked the gentleman if he'd accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.

You ever see a '79 Econoline pop a wheelie?

El Capitan said...

Your mention of seconds got me thinking about how different the world would be if we could still give someone 5 across the face with a leather gauntlet, then meet for "grass before breakfast" to settle matters.

I've often said that the threat of a yard of steel through someone's brisket or a 75 cal. lead ball in the gut tends to keep matters leaning towards the polite side...

Rev. Turk said...

(sigh)...I'm the only Yankee around here huh?..Even worse, I'm a New Yorker. AND I drive a van for a living. I keep trying to explain to people, New Yorkers aren't really rude, We're just terribly, terribly busy. All the time. Anything that interrupts the flow of the day is a major disaster. Also, words that folks from other parts of this great nation of ours consider profanity, we New Yorkers simply consider a friendly greeting!! Maybe this fellow as just saying hello in NY speak!!...(chuckle)

Rev. Locke

Anonymous said...

Ah hell. I'm alone in thinking "Just shoot the SOB. A jury of your peers would return 'death by suicide'"
Guess I rolled out on the wrong side this morning.