At 6:00 p.m. last Thursday, I wanted to make a right turn from Ponce de Leon Avenue on to Peachtree Street. If you are not familiar with Atlanta, I will tell you that this intersection is smack in the middle of things and where the historic Fox Theater is located. It is busy almost always, and at 6:00 p.m. on a weekday for certain. These roads are old roads, and the buildings alongside them were built before cars were the primary mode of transportation. Ergo, they are narrow roads, and the lanes don’t have a whole lot of margin for error.
About 20 feet before the intersection, the car in front of me, a Ford Explosion, or whatever the SUV that is the giantest is called, stopped in the right lane. It did so in order for its passengers to get out, presumably so that they wouldn’t have to walk from wherever it was the military-transport sized vehicle was going to park to the Fox Theater in order to see Cats.
Now, before you lecture me, I KNOW that not all disabilities are visible. There is no useful handicapped parking near the Fox, and if you struggle with debilitating asthma, or MS, or lupus, or any of the other millions of diseases or conditions that make walking long distances from the parking lots to the theater difficult, you should be dropped off by a considerate driver who will then go pay $30.00 or so to park in an inconvenient lot.
The two ladies who emerged from this vehicle were not older than me and both wore highly impractical clothing and even more impractical shoes. I’m just going to say that if you struggle with a disability that makes walking difficult, perhaps you ought not to wear stilettos. So let us assume for purposes of my rant that these women were capable of walking, but preferred not to, and their escort or ride or whatever was simply being ‘nice’ by dropping them off near the theater.
I put ‘nice’ in quotation marks for a reason. Because of the size of the car and the fact that the road was built to accommodate a horse and buggy and the fact that it stopped so close to the intersection, it was not possible for me to go around him without swerving into oncoming traffic. I couldn’t see around him anyway. The ladies he dropped off took their own sweet time getting out of the behemoth from which they emerged, pausing to adjust a strap on a shoe and dig around in a purse. The driver was being nice to his passengers, and inconsiderate to the dozens of other people around him. They were taking up space in great disproportion to their need.
When at last the women sauntered towards the theater, Jeeves, or JimBob, or Hoke Colburn, or whatever the heck his name was finally took his foot off the brake and…edged into the left lane, because of course he wanted to turn left. He basically parked diagonally across both lanes and waited for the light to change. Under other circumstances, I could have made a right turn on red, but he blocked the right lane.
This incident, in real time, was probably no more than two minutes of my life. Objectively, a whole lot of nothing. But it felt like an eternity, and it was a terrible, torturous eternity at that. I can’t quit thinking about it. Here’s why: it illustrates a much bigger problem.
There are a whole host of folks on this Earth who do not seem to care how much space they take up or whose way they get in doing it. So long as their agenda and needs are met, they do not care. I thought about honking to alert them to the rest of humanity, but what would that do? Nothing. It wouldn’t change their behavior or speed anyone up, just add that much more negative energy to the air. As far as they are concerned, we are just ants in the anthill, and they are wearing boots: if they stomp on us, it is because our anthill was in their way. They honestly believe we shouldn’t have been on the metaphorical sidewalk and therefore deserved our fate.
I don’t know why this is or what we can do about it. Maybe nothing; probably nothing. I’ve always thought the best thing to do is lead by example. Be considerate, be kind, and people will follow your lead. Maybe that’s not enough, though. It doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe we have to start taking a more aggressive stand and instead of preaching tolerance and love we need to preach intolerance and hate – the selective kind, of course. Be intolerant of a lack of consideration for fellow humans. Hate unkindness, and treat it with disdain.
Maybe that kind of hate will lead to the real kind of love.
Until then, for crying out loud, if you’re blocking traffic, the least you can do is wait until you’ve shut the passenger door to adjust your shoe or look for a tissue in your purse. The American Heart Association says this is one of the top ten ways to reduce the epidemic of high blood pressure in this country.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.