Several years ago I entered a parking lot of a shopping center and encountered what commonly requires a great amount of anger management and has sadly become a familiar occurrence, someone stole my parking spot. However, on this day it was a bit different in the “in your face” way in which it occurred. It took my best anger management skills to keep cool.
Anger Management Tools Were Essential
It had been a particularly stressful, hot summer day and after circling around the lot for some time with no decent spot I noticed an old lady and her friend coming out of the Publix grocery. She was using a walker so it took quiet a long time for them to cross the road. I figured I would wait for them, follow them to their car and take that space. It wasn’t like there were many options anyway. As they approached the end of the road at snails pace I notice their car was right next to the handicap spot. Right there in the front. Jackpot! A would be rewarded with a rock star parking space for my patience. Or so I thought.
At this point it is important to remind you there were few other spaces left in that lot and the road she was about to finish crossing in front of the Publix was one lane on each side. Suddenly the unthinkable happened. A woman with her 8 year old son in the back pulled up right next to me. Against the oncoming traffic! Everyone in her lane coming towards her came to a stop, because she was blocking it. So here we are, two cars side by side blocking the road. Me patiently waiting to get my spot and her standing next to me against oncoming traffic.
“Maybe there was another car that she saw that was also pulling out.” I told myself.
“She couldn’t be thinking of taking the spot I had been waiting for in such an aggressive manner could she?”
“No way!!! She intended to take my spot!”
I was floored. Talk about nasty and aggressive. I looked at her to kindly indicate (in case she was blind!) that it was my spot. A spot I had been waiting for until the snail (I mean nice old lady) crossed the road. She shot me this snooty look and turned her nose and head at me as she looked away.
“What the!! This isn’t happening.” I told myself.
I motioned to the 8 year old in her back seat to get her attention. Instead he gave ME attention. With his middle finger!
I was seething. The old lady pulled out and this woman, with her brat in tow, floored her car into the spot. The shock was gone and now I was really, really, really angry (I actually had better and more colorful language in my head, but I am trying to keep this PG rated). I paused for a second behind her car intending to give her a piece of my mind, as I rolled down the window. However, I was afraid it could get out of hand, because at this point my mind was exploding with vengeful thoughts. I decided to drive to the farthest part of the lot and get a spot there. That way I could cool off as I walked towards the grocery. I parked, got out of my car and stared at the keys in my hand.
“Put them away.” I told my self.
“No!!! I’m going dig into her car so bad she is going to need a new door.”
“No you are not.”
And so it went as I walked all the way from the back of the lot headed towards her car. It was like a cartoon character with the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I walked straight for her car, keys in my hand held to the side and…. Finally I walked into Publix and did my shopping. I could see her looking at me in the store. Half snooty and half nervous.
“Did that guy (me) key my car?” She must of thought.
So did I? No, I didn’t even touch her car. In fact, I turned away before I was right behind it. Boy I wanted to, but it wasn’t right. I realized she was nasty and I wasn’t going to be nasty. What’s more I wasn’t going to let her ruin the rest of my day by keeping me angry. However, the real secret was my built in cool off period. By parking so far away I was able to walk off my anger and thankfully (especially for her) it worked. I still take walks as a form of anger management and believe it to be a great way to cool off. Oh, and people still take my parking spots sometimes. But this event remains the record holder of nasty swipes!
Even as a psychiatrist, I must always keep my anger management tools handy to avoid a blow-up!
– Dr. Mike