Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to Handle a Deplorable on the Trail

Oh yea, I can hear it, a ways off. It is a Saturday after all. There is a 50% chance that it will head away from me, rather than towards me. But no, it wouldn't do that. They never do. That hateful sound kept getting closer and closer.

At a bend in the dirt road, a smallish ATV suddenly appeared. "Thanks for stopping and not running me over," was my initial thought. The driver was so velocitized that it took some effort for him to stop that idiot-machine of his.

But he was a good kid, and apologized. And I did my best to smile at the little motor-crazed monster.

As my dog and I kept plugging away on that road, the damned kid seemed to be playing "tag" with us. I had an obligation to both of us not to let this bother me. But the harder I tried to ignore it, the more resentful I became. It was a classic example of the medieval tale of a fairy telling the guy she will grant him his fondest wish if only he wouldn't think of a pink elephant for the next ten minutes.

On the way back I studied his camp, his father, and the truck, to see if there were any of the typical signs of miscegenation of the kind one sees at Walmart or the Dollar Stores. But the father looked pretty decent, even if he was being indulgent with his son. 

On the last leg of the ride back to my van, the little Deplorable kept playing tag or leapfrog with me. By now I was really getting angry. I fantasized about getting off the bike, and stoning the dumb kid.

When my dog and I rolled into the trailhead/parking lot, the monster drove up one last time. I really wondered whether I was finally going to tell him off, or maybe, control myself and give him some kindly grandfatherly advice.

He shut off his motor and removed his space-alien helmet. With a big smile, he told me how much he liked my dog. It reminded him of his dog at home.  We talked about his machine and the road and a few other things. I don't have children. I haven't even talked to children for years. How do you do this? What would a lad his age want to talk about? I didn't want to sound condescending.

He was actually a fine lad, polite, well-spoken, and intelligent. It seemed kind of cute that he had cowboy boots on to drive his ATV. I was astonished that he could transform so suddenly from a little monster to a cute friendly kid.

One of the nostrums of modern, squishy social science is that Anger is a "negative" emotion. Experiences like this illustrate that the popping of a malevolent bubble is charming beatific. 

9 comments:

  1. I have to think about this one. "Charming?" I have been amazed at experiencing anger being transformed as I connect to something other than what angered me. But "charming?"
    Much more pleasurable to chat with him, very true. But how would you feel if he got back on his vehicle and played tag with you again, seemingly impervious to how you might be experiencing his behavior?
    Perhaps after a nice chat, the door would be open to explaining how obnoxious this behavior can be and perhaps the "charm" would be over and his own anger would be incited instead leading him to intensify his obnoxious behaviors toward you.
    Ah, KB, you're getting soft. Maybe that fairy has been whispering in your ear.

    George

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    1. Good point. Instead of the word 'charming', I should have used 'beatific'.

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  2. Yeah, there are a lot of malevolent bubbles floating around. Yesterday, I was driving behind a lady whose vehicle was decorated with more bumper stickers than I could count, mostly pro-Trump. She ran over something in the road that flipped up and hit my vehicle. It took me several minutes to move from boiling over to a bare simmer. I had to turn off the 4 lane and get onto a gravel country road by the river before I reached room temperature. Finally, I started to chuckle at all of the "Make Raw Milk Legal" stickers sprinkled amongst the Trump stickers. I'm not opposed to making raw milk legal, but I'm pretty sure that issue has a low priority on the Trump agenda.

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    1. I hadn't thought of "road rage" when I wrote the post, but now that mention it, that is what it was!

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  3. During your tete-a-tete did you ask him why he was "tagging" you? It appears you did the right thing by not being too judgmental with this lad.

    Chris

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    1. That was the question that I would have asked. But how could I ask it without him hearing criticism and grouching? I wanted him to like mountain bikers. Maybe he will be one some day. Geesh, I sound like such a nambie-pambie.

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    2. Not a nambie-pambie. You are simply mellowing with age.

      Chris

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    3. Oh, but NO! Don't take my hero away. We need curmudgeons in this world. Don't give up the point as it is well taken. I think it is a matter of "how" you say it. You can say a lot if you say it well.
      As he begins to leave (after a lovely little community-building conversation) one says "Just as a point of interest, do you wonder how it might be for me to be riding along quiet-like and listening to the birds and wind, and enjoying the solitude of this and then along comes a loud motorized vehicle? Who tends to ride my tail over and over again. Just wondering if you ever think of that at all?"
      And if he gets mad....is that your fault or his?
      But I will defend the point that it is important to put things out there. To speak them and get them in the open. My reason wouldn't be that I wanted him "to like mountain bikers" as much as pointing out differences between people and perhaps gaining a bit of consideration for that very important point.
      Mellowing is good. My version of that though is not to compromise my point but attempt to say it better, more respectfully, etc. but I'll still say it and I know I'm a lot older than KB. Not sure 'bout you, Chris.


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    4. I think I've got him by about 15+ years, George. Ugh and groan.

      Chris

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