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The Villages
Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mr. Friendly flipped me off in traffic jam

Lisa DeMarco

I don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to be friendly. We don’t all have to be happy-go-lucky souls, but shouldn’t we all at least be kind? I’m the type of person who enjoys performing random acts of kindness. I also go out of my way to be courteous to everyone, yet some people actually take offense to my gestures.

For example, I was driving around running some errands the other day. I had my windows down and was jamming to some oldies on my playlist. I was in no hurry, so when I got stuck for a minute in afternoon traffic, it didn’t bother me to wait at the light. Before the cars started moving again, I noticed the car ahead of me had no intention of letting any cars in line try to squeeze in. Instead, he purposefully inched his way forward, ensuring no space for anyone to even think of sliding in.

When it was my turn, I stayed back a bit to let the first two vehicles come through. I didn’t realize it would irritate the driver behind me so much! Apparently, he had somewhere important to be, and I, having allowed these two cars to cut through, disrupted this man’s time frame. It affected him so drastically that it forced him almost to touch the back bumper of my Jeep – like he was going to somehow move me out of his way, just before he started sending me a message in Morse Code on his horn. I guess he wanted to ensure I knew I had just pissed him off!

Now, I have a few feet in front of me and barely an inch or two behind – with traffic still at a snail’s pace getting through the intersection. Still, “Mr. Friendly” behind me is not pleased and decides he wants to pass me on the right to make a left-hand turn?! The best part, as he desperately struggled to maneuver his way around me while no one around us was moving, I still had to smile and wave at him when we clearly made eye contact. Only to which, he flipped me off before drifting into my lane and cutting me off. “Okie Dokie, knucklehead. We’ll just let sista Karma take care of you,” I thought.

Another swell example of someone who should be wearing a button saying, “I Am Not a Happy Camper,” would have to be an older woman I encountered at the grocery store. Most of my shopping list that day was produce. I needed fruits and vegetables. Apples, peaches, plums, tomatoes, cucumbers. All items that needed to be put in plastic bags, the baggies we all hate because we can never get them open!

A very good friend taught me a trick, and now I am not afraid of working with these bags. So, I stood at the dispensers and pulled a long string of bags before separating and opening them one at a time. I made a neat pile on an endcap display of pineapples. While doing so, a friendly-looking older woman rolled up on one of the store’s handicap-accessible carts. I smiled, and as she approached, I reached out to hand her an already opened bag assuming she needed one. Although she did need one, she did not want the one I tried to give her. Instead of reaching out for it, she let it fall to the ground before questioning me about my offering. “Did I ask you for a bag?” she inquired abruptly. 

“No, ma’am. You did not,” I said, still smiling.

Then, as usual, I attempted to converse with a stranger who obviously was not interested in anything I had to say or offer. At that moment, it took everything in me not to allow my Jersey vernacular to creep out of my mouth and tell this woman how I felt about her behavior. After over 30 years of living in the south, I have learned to tone down my Jersey lingo and at least fake having some proper southern etiquette.

With that said, life’s too short to harbor such hostility towards total strangers just because they happen to be breathing the same air. Take a pill. Learn to relax, and consider this: If you’re so unhappy now, think how miserable you would be if there weren’t people like me to give you something to be grumpy about?! It is all relative. I choose to continue to spread joy!

Laugh on. Peace out!

Lisa DeMarco is a columnist for Villages-News.com

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