You Get What You Give

I had an unpleasant, random interaction today. I was heading across campus to a meeting, and I came to a crosswalk. So far, so good. A truck was approaching, but it slowed down and stopped. You with me? I proceeded to cross the crosswalk, though I didn’t directly stare at the truck, since I feel like that can be kind of aggressive and taken the wrong way. In the middle of the crosswalk, it sounded like someone was talking to me from the truck. I thought it might turn out to be someone I knew, so I actually looked over at it now and cocked my head in the universal “What did you say?” sign.

It was easier to hear what the guy was saying now, especially since he drove into the crosswalk right behind me. I did not, it turns out, know him. And he was definitely very irate. “Way to just walk out without even looking, moron!”

This (obviously) rubbed me the wrong way, so I said back, “I knew you were there” loud enough that he’d be able to hear it through his rolled down window. (Which he rolled down just to be able to share his message.)

He cursed and floored the gas so he could make it to the stop sign 30 yards away that much faster. I somehow fell back on my German missionary days and just gave him the sign for “you’re an idiot” which is where you wave your hand in front of your face. No idea where that came from. You can tell how often I ever get mad at people in the moment.

I’m not blogging about the event because I feel any remorse over the incident. Angry people are going to angry. But it did make me reflect on how easily things are influenced by the attitude you have when you come into the situation. If you jump into something angrily, you’re that much more likely to make the person you’re yelling at angry in return.

This is true for more than just random interactions in crosswalks. It applies to relationships to family and friends. To how you interact with strangers. To how you approach life in general. I’ve noticed perpetually grumpy people often feel like everyone else is grumpy. While I’ve doubted that, now that I think about it, it might be true. Go around grumpy all the time, and people you’re talking with magically become grumpy whenever they see you . . .

Just a thought for this fine Tuesday. Now you’ll need to excuse me. There’s a crosswalk I have to jump out into the middle of to surprise another car.

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