Flipping the Bird

May 4, 2014 by

We somehow left Michaels in a good mood after some serious post-school crankiness, which wasn’t exactly mitigated by my haphazard planning for crafts which left us wandering the aisles a little too long, so I decided to make a quick stop at Yogurtland before heading home. And just like that, it was a perfect afterschool day, everyone was chill and enjoying themselves and there wasn’t anywhere we had to be, so I decided to take a leisurely side street detour through Encino. I took my time, the streets were empty and I was enjoying looking at the beautiful houses when all of the sudden this VERY ANGRY woman starts honking at me while screaming “are you kidding me!!!” out her window. Apparently I was driving wwaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy too slowly for her liking, I really have no idea how slowly I was going, my guess is that I was going about 25 in a 30, but that’s neither here nor there, because I stop my car, roll down the window and wave her past.

Naturally, (insert confused look here) this only infuriates her further. She shakes her middle finger at me as she passes my car, screaming obscenities the whole time. Then she pulls in front of me and slams on her brakes. I wasn’t quite sure where things were going at this point. Perhaps she was deciding whether or not she wanted to back into me or just get out and mix it up. (I’m not going to lie, I kinda wanted to kick her ass at this point.) But she was obviously unstable, or high, or maybe she listens to too much talk radio or perhaps she’s just having a very very very bad day and needed someone to yell at. Fortunately she drove off and took her crazy elsewhere, leaving me with two very concerned children (5 and 9) who wanted to know what she was doing with her hand (flipping me the bird) and why she was so mad.

Had this happened an hour earlier, as I was hollering at my kids for their incessant backseat bickering, I feel fairly certain this entire encounter would have gone in a completely different direction. But instead it became an exercise in gratitude and a teaching moment for my kids. Dipping into that ever important well of gratitude, I told my children that whatever her reasons were, she was obviously having a very tough time today and instead of being mad at her, I was choosing to wish for her that whatever was making her so unhappy, that it would get better. And I do. I told them that I am choosing to be grateful for my happy life. And I am. It was amazing how much this settled my very worried kids down and gave them a way to focus their concerns. And you know what? It settled me down too and gave me a fresh reminder that the choices we make every day define our happiness.

So, to the angry lady in the red sedan, I’m going to flip you a different sort of bird and say, “thank you”. Thank you for this important reminder and I truly hope that you will find some peace from whatever it is that is troubling you (because I know it wasn’t the lady driving her minivan a little too slow on an empty road in Encino)

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