Picture a nice Sunday afternoon. You’re heading to a seaside lounge for cocktails. It’s a busy area; finding parking is hard, then you spot a car exiting a space. You stop to let the car reverse out with the ultimate intention of taking the space. That’s when it happens. The car behind you starts showering you with a series of abusive honks. You pull over to one side to allow the offender to pass, only to discover he’s now busy taking your spot. You try to reverse back into you rightful spot, but its too late. You’re now not only being honked at, but verbal abuse is coming at you too as he verbally implies you’re taking HIS spot. In the end, you make a choice; its either get out of the car and see how far it escalates, or walk away.
Has this ever happened to you? I came out of the above incident visibly bothered, having walked away from an abusive situation, pulse racing and with a general feeling that I needed to punch something or I would explode. My appetite for drinks with friends was gone, and after spending the next 15 mins circling around I was still fuming.
It dawned on me that bullying doesn’t stop when you’re a kid. Some adults remain bullies well into their old age, always spoiling for a fight.
Society teaches you to be the bigger man and walk away. What it doesn’t teach you is how to deal with the left over rage that comes from suppressing a primal instinct to lash out at an agressor. Instinct and reason are at loggerheads for a couple of seconds. Your rational side knows escalation will lead to further complication, especially in a society that punishes aggression indiscriminately of justification, but your primal side just wants to give that smug piece of garbage the beat down he’s probably deserved all his life.
While I may have been the bigger man for walking away, I could not shake the look of the guy’s smug face as he bragged about it to his friends while I circled around and watched them walk across the promenade.
Why am I writing this? For one thing; while some bullies grow into reasonable people, some stay bullies for life. Being a believer in Karma I believe they eventually get what they deserve. Secondly, it is fascinating how much of a restricted society we live in that an abuser is more confident because the law will protect against someone retaliating physically. I wonder where all this pent up frustration the everyday Joe experiences goes to.
I’m interested in seeing how others handle such situations. I’m pretty sure certain characters have a natural knack with it.