Tuesday morning the renovation of our kitchen continued with the installation of the tile backsplash. Since it is convenient for the workers to use the garage, I parked both cars on the street and the tile-guy parked his truck in the driveway. Half an hour later, I heard an ominous drone. You see, Tuesdays are street sweeping days … no parking on the street. I ran to one of the cars and was opening the door when the sweeper came around the corner. I signaled to him that I was moving it but he ignored me, making his two passes around the cul-de-sac then pointed down the street. I knew what was coming … the Street Sweeper Parking Nazi in his little white car. Everyone on the street has tried to reason with him to no avail. He pulled up behind our car and began punching our license plate number on his keyboard. I tapped on his window. He ignored me. I tapped again. He ignored me again. I don’t like being ignored. When he got out of the car, ticket in hand, I tried reason with him. We’re having work done and there was no place to park. I tried to move it. SSPN had every I’m only-following-orders response ready. If I don’t ticket you, the guy in the street sweeper guy will report me (Blame someone else). If I don’t ticket you the neighbors will report me. C’mon, I said, I’ve seen each one of them trying to reason with you. That’s why I have to ticket you, he said. They’d complain (Blame society). By this time he was putting the ticket on one car and eying the other parked in front of our house. By this time, my Inner Curmudgeon was fully engaged. IC asked, How do you sleep at night, being like this?
OK, I realize that he wasn’t going to say, Oh, that’s why I haven’t been sleeping. I’m changing my ways, then tear up the ticket. What he said was, Some day you’ll understand. I REALLY hate being patronized. There was probably a clever comeback that would have gone completely over his head, something like, I don’t think I have enough years left for that, but what I said … I won’t even blame my Inner Curmudgeon … was, You’re a real asshole. At least I didn’t toss F-bombs. Have you noticed that when you lose your temper, time sometimes speeds up and you find yourself doing something before you even realize it? In this case, I found myself pulling away in our other car, SSPN running behind me to get the plate number. Out and about in the neighborhood, I wondered, What now? And, how long do I stay away? After ten minutes, I drove by once to see that he was gone, then pulled around the tile-guy’s truck to park in the garage. He had left the second ticket on our front porch but both the plate number and address were wrong. I just knew the little worm would come back to get my plate number, so I leaned a big piece of cardboard against the rear of my car, covering the plate, feeling a little like a bad-guy on Cops. Sure enough, a while later, as I was working in my office, SSPN pulled up, slowing long enough to see the plate was covered, then sped off.
Many years ago, someone asked me if I was an angry man. As I launched into a 500 word version of No, he told me to think about it. I did and realized I was angry a lot … inside … not about specific events but about things I couldn’t control. It was a turning point in my life. Back then, I had a fierce temper that could turn up at any moment. I hardly ever lose my temper any more, in large part because I am no longer an angry man. Oh, yeah, I get angry but I deal with it instead of packing it away and trying to be Mr. Spock. Later in the day, when my blood pressure had come down, I remembered reading this in the 10,000 word insert that came with the testosterone gel I’m trying: A possible side effect when first using Androgel is aggressive behavior. Well, shit. What if the anger management I’d attributed to self-examination and the 12-Steps was just the result of falling testosterone levels? Nah. But for the next few weeks … just in the interests of caution … don’t ignore me and don’t patronize me. Got it?