“Hey you! You stupid imbecile! Don’t you know how to drive?? Can’t you even read the signs in the parking lot?” I looked at my friend who was stopped in the parking lot by this outraged man. The guy was ranting and letting his anger rage. His face was beet red, he was foaming at the mouth and his veins were popping out on his forehead. He continued on for about 2 minutes. When he stopped to take a breath, he raised his finger and pointed at me and started yelling at me. I glanced at him and just listened. Keep in mind that this was happening at a busy parking lot at a local grocery store on a Saturday morning. Cars were passing by and slowing down as other drivers were listening to this madman. He was making a scene and he knew it!
The guy wouldn’t stop! He went on and on. I had had enough and said to my friend, “let’s go!” It was apparent this man could not be reasoned with. He was in full road rage. He wanted a verbal fist fight and we didn’t respond in kind. There is a time and place to pick your battles; however it’s never a good idea to try to reason with someone whose intent is to fight and not listen or even compromise. When it gets to that point, it’s best to walk away. Why take the abuse of anyone who does not respect you or themselves? Yet, I see many people in my office who allow this behavior in their relationships at home and work to continue. Why is that?
Is it fear that prevents them from defending themselves? Is it that they want to keep peace in the family or workplace so they say nothing? In my case, it wasn’t my fight; it was my friend’s who cut someone off in a parking lot. He was the one who was dealing with this angry man. I was the observer in a passenger seat. I think common sense tells us when we need to cut and run. There is no need to let someone berate you in public or in the privacy in your own home for that matter!
What are the proper steps to take when being attacked by someone? First, evaluate the situation. If you are being threatened, then leave. If you can get the abuser calmed down enough for a civil conversation, then proceed. There are reasons why people get upset and take their anger out on you. Many are personal reasons like having a bad day at the office, marital issues, and problems at home with their children, health issues, etc. Keep those in mind when someone is lashing out. Try to put yourself in their shoes. It has helped me many times to do just that. Being sensitive to others hurts helps a great deal.
We read stories in the papers about drivers with road rage and usually the outcomes are very deadly. It isn’t always road rage; it can be as simple as someone thinking you cut in front of them while waiting in line. I have seen some people come close to throwing punches while waiting in line for movie tickets. It is much easier to let it go and move on. It’s not worth getting injured or even murdered for standing your ground.
I had a high school teacher who had someone cut him off in traffic in Chicago. When they both stopped at a red light, my teacher got out of his car to confront the other driver. When he got up to the other driver’s window he faced a .357 staring at him in the face. The man asked my high school teacher if there was a problem. “No sir,” he said as” he walked away. Just like my former teacher, back away and be grateful you were not shot or stabbed.
Common sense must prevail in these difficult days. Things have changed over the years. A wise man avoids unnecessary arguments, in fact, he walks away from them. Teach this to your children and your grandchildren. These days anything can happen when confronting someone you don’t know. In closing, choose your arguments carefully. If you don’t need to go there, by all means don’t. Save the pain of getting into trouble.