To the shriveled old man who yelled at me this week when I was walking with my baby, I say: I’m glad as hell I called you an asshole.
What a prick.
Let me back up.
When a woman with an infant in a stroller stands patiently at a crosswalk for 10 minutes waiting to cross the street, as cars zoom past with nary a glance at this mother-baby duo, this woman gets irritated. It doesn’t take much for this irritation to roil into a full boil. There are irritation-fueled thoughts of The Good Old Days (minus the racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and jingoism) when drivers would not only stop for a woman with a stroller but maybe even get out of their car to help her.
I’m a feminist who appreciates help.
The zoom-zoom of cars soon stalled to a traffic lull, and this woman happily begins her trek across the crosswalk.
But then a motorcyclist zoomed around the corner and – seeing the woman now paused in the crosswalk – came to a complete stop.
And the green Pontiac behind the motorcyclist screeched to a halt and hit him.
Really it was more like a bump. But the screech was terrible and I thought, “This man is going to die because he stopped for me and my baby in the crosswalk.”
Thankfully no people or vehicles were injured. Yeesh.
Yet I’m still standing mid-crosswalk and feeling a bit jarred and responsible.
That’s when Old Geezer coasts to a slow glide in his Geezer-mobile and shouts, “That’s how accidents happen, lady!”
Implying that I – a woman in the crosswalk with a stroller – was the root cause of the accident.
There are times in one’s life when you grudgingly remain silent to life’s small injustices, and then mull over perfect comeback lines after the fact. This was no such time.
“Mind your own business, asshole!” I screamed with relish. The icing on the cake? Old Geezer’s window was still rolled down – a byproduct of the fact that he had to have his window rolled down in order to demean me – so he heard me good and clear.
My only regret is that I left out the “fucking” before “business.”
Still. Almost same effect.
As a witness to the accident I had to hang around, and I gave my contact information to the motorcyclist in case his insurance company needed to talk to me.
“State law mandates that I have to stop for someone in the crosswalk,” he told me.
But did I feel guilty that I caused the accident?
Of course I felt bad. It didn’t help that the motorcyclist said, in disbelief, that he just picked up the motorcycle THAT DAY from the dealer. But did I actually cause the accident? No. That role would belong to the driver of the green Pontiac who actually hit the motorcyclist, who admitted to “fidgeting” in her car right before the bump happened.
So to the Old Geezer who placed full blame on me for causing the accident – without even witnessed what happened – I say you’ve probably spent your whole life blaming women for the metaphorical crashes in your life. The fact that you would make such a judgment – and a public proclamation – instead of stopping to see if anyone was injured or needed help, indicates you are a cold, unfeeling, and probably misanthropic human being with a special dislike of women. Women who are just trying to go about their day.
But the story ends well-ish. The motorcyclist and the young, female driver of the green Pontiac shook hands. In fact it was the motorcyclist, the man who’d been hit, who initiated the handshake.
The Pontiac driver was clearly shaken. She kept apologizing and said she didn’t know what accident protocol required of her. Especially since she’d never been in an accident before.
So to the motorcyclist, who dared to stop for a mother with a stroller at a crosswalk, and who got hit in the process, I say thank you for keeping your cool, your perspective, and your mensch-like behavior. (The handshake was a nice touch.)
To the young driver of the Pontiac I say accidents happen, and when they do the best outcome we can hope for is that we’ll learn something from them and that no one will get hurt.
To myself, I say never step into a crosswalk until there are no drivers in sight.
And to the Old Geezer who accosted me with his drive-by chastisement, I say watch who you call a “lady.”
Ladies certainly don’t call the likes of you assholes.