I slammed the front door. 

I threw my dusty garden gloves on the floor and collapsed onto the stairs, hot tears flowing. 

“What’s wrong?” Keith put hand on my shoulder.

“I’m all gross. I wouldn’t touch me.” I’d been working on my lawn for 4.5 hours. No…not “lawn.” It’s a hill of dust and clay, covered in mounds and mounds of leaves. There is nothing “lawn” about it. 

“Did you hurt yourself?” He kept rubbing my shoulder. 

My lower back throbbed. I shook my head, which was buried in my folded arms, resting on my knees. Then I lifted it up to answer. 

“Well I was just about finished up with raking leaves and tilling up the stupid dirt and fertilizing and putting out grass seed and watering…well…and some of the leaf bags were barely on the road…because I had just watered the dirt below them, but I was going to move them back…but then this guy drives by and hits the bags on purpose with his truck and one busts all open! And he lives right there.” I point through my closed front door. It felt so mean, mostly because I was just so drained.

“The house on the corner?” Keith tried to see through the wall. 

“No, the one next to that.” I opened the front door and corrected my pointing. “That black truck.”

“Babe I’m really sorry. I mean technically you’re probably not allowed to have the leaf bags on the road at all.” He tried to be fair about his assessment. 

“People park all over this road. They put their trash cans on the road. Kids play basketball in the road. It’s not that uncommon for some obstacle to be on this road. They were barely on the road and I was just about to move them off. He ran into them on purpose, and he didn’t have to do that. Why would he?! I would never do that to someone out in her yard, working her ass off!” I cried some more angry tears. 

“No. He shouldn’t have done it.”

“Well…I marched up to the corner of the yard and flipped him off, but he never even looked up at me as he checked his mail. So then I said, ‘Sir…I think you need to have your eyes checked. You accidentally ran into my bags of leaves. I’m worried that you may not be safe on the road.’ And he just looks up at me and yells, ‘Keep your leaves off the road. I was in my lane, and they were in the way.’ Then he just walked off so I came inside.” Revenge is human nature…and plenty of ideas ran through my head. 

I wouldn’t do anything back to him. I know myself. I’ll calm down. It just hurt my feelings and pissed me off. And I’ll admit I shouldn’t have flipped him off.  I shouldn’t allow anyone to make me lose my character, no matter how cocky and rude they are. 

“Well…there’s nothing you can really do about it. I’ll move the bags off the road. Go take a shower.” Keith was calm and sweet. He went outside. I sat back on the stairs. 

I wanted to call the courtesy police of common decency to plea my case. It was just mean. And I didn’t know this guy, and was fine to continue my existence never having to meet him. Why would he introduce himself to me in this way?

“Well I went over to talk to the guy.” Keith came back into the house after moving the bags of leaves. 

“You did? What’d you say?” I love Keith.

“Well I was just going to talk to him calmly, but he came out of his house already mad and ready to argue, so I said, ‘Listen. I don’t appreciate you being a dick and making my wife cry. You could’ve handled that in a number of different ways besides the way you chose to.’ And then he was all, ‘Well there are kids on skateboards all over this road. I wasn’t about to drive into the other lane to miss the leaves because there could’ve been a kid on the other side of the hill.’ And so I asked him…okay, if the bag of leaves had been a kid if he would’ve hit the kid because it was in his lane. And he goes, ‘Well…no.’ And I asked if it had been a parked car, would he have hit the car…and again he said no. And I asked what would’ve been wrong with stopping and asking you to move it if he felt like he couldn’t safely drive past it. But he didn’t have an answer for that, just said your leaves shouldn’t have been on the road. So I looked him in the eye and said, ‘It was a dick move. And you know it.’ And then I came back over here.” My hero. I know if I was a guy, I wouldn’t want Keith as an enemy. 

“Thanks for sticking up for me, even though I guess it was my own fault for having them on the road.” I couldn’t have stuck up for myself in my exhausted condition. I would’ve just cried. 

“I love you. You’re my wife. I’m not going to let some asshole make you cry because he had a bad day at work or something. Come here.” He didn’t care that I was all dirty and sweaty. 

God, yes I did flip him off in anger, and I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry I did that. Did he deserve it? Well…maybe I felt he did, but I’ll let you sort that out. Please, please still bless my yard of dirt and help some grass grow. 

___________________________

So when I hear a story of one finger on a girl, I can’t exactly say that I cover my mouth with one lace-gloved hand as I fan myself in astonishment with the other. 

There was a recent incident at a school event involving a child and a rude gesture. Unfortunately, emotions often run high in sports, and I can’t even begin to compile a complete list of inappropriate things I’ve heard the adult fans say. 

It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that a student athlete (male or female) has used inappropriate language or gestures. And each time this happens, the students are rightfully chastised–whether by a ref, their own coach, their parents, the principal…or all of them. Her decision was unsportsmanlike, and she was properly punished by school officials. 

That’s it. The end. 

She is a child. If she is not your child, then concede to the proper authorities on this one–her school and her own parents only. She doesn’t deserve to have anyone else stand in line because they feel entitled to punish her further. It’s not your place. It’s been dealt with.

If some time in the future, some tables turn and I hear adults chastising your child and her character based on a poor choice, I will be the first one to jump in between. Poor choices are pretty common, but sadly compassion isn’t very common. 

If you look around for some moral high ground to prance around on, you might notice that it’s pretty crowded up there. If you’re honest with yourself about your own bad choices as a teen, you might find some empathy in your heart. Humility is a beautiful thing; pride not so much. And as for myself, remembering my own recent finger, I decided I better just take a seat right next to her. 

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