5.25.2010

an over inflated sense of entitlement...

it is not only that I have a bit of a temper
it is also that I am not shy about conflict

I hate conflict

yet... I hate avoiding things even more
so... I approach people... I create conflict
then I seek resolve

conflict is not my intention... but when you approach a stranger after a situation with opposing view
well... conflict is only natural

sadly... conflict seldom leads to resolve

it is the post conflict apology that brings the resolve
there is not always an opportunity for the post conflict apology to allow for that resolve

it is awkward
it can be painful
it is the process
incident... conflict... apology... resolve

I think that the conflict can be cathartic
without the conflict... there is no apology
then there is no resolve
so... conflict is part of the equation

this is nothing new... this is the way if has happened over the years
on bike... on foot... in the car

yesterday after dinner the boys saw some bikes buzzing up and down the alley behind the house so they asked if they could go outside and ride their bikes with the other kids on the block
what could I say?
so... after we finished out dinner I pulled the boys' bikes and helmets from the garage
then I put the two wooden ramps in the alley

after watching a few of the kids take the jump I decided that I would fix the flat on my Karate Monkey Single Speed and then join in on the fun

back in the house without much time passing I heard it... the sound of a crying child
at first I could not tell who was crying or why... then it became more clear
I could hear it was my younger son Grant... I tried to decipher what was causing these tears
I heard words in between the tears and the breathing... as Grant cried he uttered... "he broke the ramp"
the shakiness in Grants voice sent me rushing out to offer aid to whomever may have been hurt

he broke the ramp?
I rushed out to check on things
as I ran out onto the back deck I was intercepted by Grant...
I asked him... "is everyone okay?"

Grant tried to explain things... but was too filled with tears to really make any sense
or maybe in my haste I could not piece it together
so... I ushered past Grant worried that someone had crashed hard and could be hurt
when I got into the alley my heart was racing
a cluster of small school children gathered around the crushed ramp

all the boys tried to explain what had happened
they pointed down the block to the car that had rolled over the ramp and broke it

no one was hurt... that was a relief
the tears of my six year old son were due to the destruction of his new favorite toy... the bike ramp

with my heart rate already up from the fear of an injured child I foolishly took that energy in the direction of the driver of the white car
protective father and chip on the shoulder cyclist is a dangerous combination for a car driver

when I got to the car down the block I saw it was an elderly gentleman who splits his time between his house in DC and his house in Pennsylvania
I tried to ask him what happened... but I really did not care
all I knew was someone had broken my kid's toy and made my son cry
sensibility was blocked by adrenalin

we shared a few words
his words of course backing his actions
my words of course defending the actions of the small children
there was failed logic from his side that the kids should not be in the alley... that the alley is no place for the kids on the bikes... there was mention that in his twenty plus years of living on the block he had never seen kids ride their bikes in the alley

I stormed away saying that I could not have this conversation... that he would have to be thirty years younger for me to talk to him... I was too angry to try and dispute his failed logic
I told him that he needs to give respect to get respect
that it is his duty to go apologize to the children for breaking their ramp

I then went and repaired the ramp for the boys
the ramp repairs were finished in the time it took this man to complete a three point turn into his garage
my repairs were assisted by my two boys... it was not an immediate process
this old man's driving was such that his right to be on the road may be in question

his three point turn took one hundred and five turns
while my boys each took many attempts on finishing the deck screws I had started with the cordless drill

more facts were revealed
I already knew that this man in the white car had not waited long for the boys to move the ramp
how long could he have waited?
I was not in the house for more than a few minutes before I heard the wailing of my younger son
then my older son told me that the man had already driven up on top of the ramp when he told the boys to move the ramp
then it appeared that the man was grunting and making noises
that the kids could not tell what he was trying to say

my older son Dean tried to give his account of the situation
although I did not get a fair sense of how much time the man waited
Dean did tell me that the man did not ask the kids to move the ramp until after he had actually rolled on top of and crushed the ramp

oh man... the details are skewed
the perspective of the small boys matched up to the account of this elderly man
I wondered... did this man even see the first ramp
was he telling the boys to move the second ramp without knowing he had driven on the first ramp?

with the ramp fixed the boys got on with their riding
they rode for a bit... I never brought my bike out to join in on the fun
I was not feeling very fun

after my heart rate dropped I walked down the block to apologize for my actions
my approach was a bit rough
I had been angered... I had calmed down
I knew that I had been a bit emotional feeling as if I needed to defend my children
so... I walked down the block and knocked on my neighbor's door

I was invited in
this elderly gentleman was smoking his pipe in the front room along side of his wife
I re-introduced myself and made mention of how I had shoveled out his wife's car during the great snow storm of the winter past
I tried to make him understand my being overly excited for fear of an injured child and how the adrenalin of the moment carried over to our conflict

we spoke for two seconds about the kids in the alley and the damage to the ramp
all was resolved... all was forgotten
in a matter of minutes we were onto another topic
I sat and listened to my elderly neighbor tangent hop from one political idea to another
all sorts of information from all sorts of directions
eventually I had to break free and head home
peace was made... the goal was achieved

I asked him to expect the kids on bikes in the alley and to try and be more patient with them

again... I do not feel that it is the obligation of the people in the alley to clear out of the way of the oncoming car as if it is driven by the King of Siam

I asked him to understand that these are children... and that it takes them a few minutes to sort out the situation
their first objective is to get clear of the approaching car
then... moving the ramp is their next consideration
adults need to be patient with children... children do not respond with the snap of the finger
moving the ramp... knowing to move the ramp... well... it is all part of the developing process

honestly... the ramp was placed enough to the side that the car should have been able to slip in between the ramp and the trash cans

the car driver often has an over inflated sense of entitlement
this man driving down the alley had this over inflated sense of entitlement
OUT OF MY WAY!

for some reason the car driver feels that they have a greater right to space than anyone outside of a car
yes... basic physics gives them a bit of an advantage
what about shared space? what about the rights of others?
for the car to demand that the pedestrian or the playing child needs to clear the way because they will run them over... well
... such behavior is that of the bully
bully behavior is not to be tolerated

on the bike I experience the aggressive car driver and their emotion induced fast and close passes
that... "I will teach them a lesson" mentality

this is a shared alleyway
there needs to be a more neighborly approach to things
people parking in the alley need to come to expect that there may be children playing in the alley
they need to be patient
adults need to be patient with children
just as people need to be patient with the elderly

we all need to respect each other
no one has any greater right to this space
the space is shared

respect should be granted
and
respect should be met with respect

two posts about prior conflict with a neighbor who was impatient with the kids being in the alley

http://gwadzilla.blogspot.com/2010/05/issue-resolved-hopefully.html
http://gwadzilla.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-have-tried-to-lessen-bitching.html


2 comments:

SiouxGeonz said...

Really Really glad this got resolved civilly. Hoping it will affect teh future and interactions that might not get second chances!
There's something in the wiring that when we're in a hurry, we NEED NEED NEED to move forward. This morning I was in hurry mode and cruised across a street from a sidewalk, without stopping (it's on campus and there is no road so I"m in that weird nether world between vehicle and pedestrian), duly noting - a little later than I should have - an approaching vehicle on the perpendicular left, instantly assessing that it was stopping, so I cruised through... but I shouldn't have, 'specially since it was a campus cop. Vowed to STFD (slow down) in my head, which doesn't really require slowing down the legs at all.

Freewheel said...

Kudos for going back and knocking on the guy's door and talking to him civilly. Most people would not have done that. I'm not sure I would have done that. But it was definitely the right thing to do when dealing with a neighbor.