Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Moment of Power

You know how it is... you're driving along, and another car makes a special effort to pull out and get in front of you... only to drop down to a speed so slow you could be passed by a parade of Shriners in their Hoverounds. In reverse. Or perhaps you're in the supermarket, and another shopper has combined the witdh of their cart and the width of their person to block the aisle completely. Are people just that self-absorbed? Do they truly exist in such thick bubbles that they are blissfully unaware of any other people around them? Maybe some of them are, but I think that most people do it on purpose. Why? Power. For that moment, however fleeting, that person is in control of someone else. Their actions directly impact the daily lives of another. They are in control, and they have your attention. Sure, the attention may be in the form of a string of expletives shouted at ear-shattering volume, but it's an affirmation of the degree of impact they have made. They may be the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, or the parent of the kids who never listen, or the one who is always compared to the more successful member of the family, but in that moment they are the ones who make the decisions. They know it, they revel in it, and it may be the only time they actually get to feel anything approaching control. It may not be a good feeling, but it's something other than powerlessness, so it'll do in a pinch.

With this line of reasoning in place, I find it much easier to deal with these encounters. Don't get me wrong. It certainly does not mean that I curse any less. (I'm from New York, baby. Cursing is an art form, not to mention a law.) It just means that the footnote of my reflexive expletives is laughter. After all, if the best they can do to feel good is inconvenience others, that's pretty pathetic. Mockingly so.

Maybe I'm wrong, and people really aren't doing it willfully. Maybe they are just rock stupid, and so deeply mired in their own little worlds they have no idea that anyone else exists. I'd rather accept evil in its most minor form than stupid, even though I've had more than my fill of both.

After all, I used to work for the government.

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