The parking lot at the health club was ridiculously crowded, but just as I entered the lot, I noticed a car with backup lights and positioned myself to wait for the prime space. Being courteous, I didn’t hover as that would block other traffic from flowing, but I clearly was waiting for that one spot. Just as the car backed up and exited, a woman in another vehicle sped around the corner and pulled into it. Had I recently watched Fried Green Tomatoes, I might have yelled “Towanda!” and pulled in after her, come what may. I hadn’t and didn’t.
But I did drive away in a huff. Then I entered the club — after a long walk from the farthest parking lot — and made my way to the locker room. Like spaces in the parking lot, lockers were hard to find. One other woman, who I knew vaguely from an aqua class, was in the locker section, and I commented on how crowded the club was today. Then I happened to mention the incident in the parking lot.
“And I was waiting for this parking space someone was leaving, and this woman just rounded the corner and slipped into the spot. How rude!”
At this moment, the woman turned to face me, and I groaned inwardly. I knew her from somewhere other than the swimming pool and locker room. As in, if I saw her profile driving a car in the morning darkness, scooting into a parking spot I had deemed my own, I might be more sure. But I had a sinking suspicion I had inadvertently, by my rash, random rant, confronted the very person about whom I was ranting. Our conversation continued in a casual manner, and I thought I must be mistaken. Whew.
Upstairs, my workout partners and I were back together after a series of vacations, sicknesses, and injuries had disrupted our routine, and I all but forgot the incident. But when we had finished for the day, I returned to the locker room, showered, and began getting ready for work.
Suddenly, my “rant-ee” approached me, wet from her swim.
“Sara, I thought about what you said the entire time I was swimming, and I think I was the person who stole your parking space. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were waiting for that spot.”
Sigh. I can’t even remember what I said in return. I was too embarrassed. Really? I’m waiting for a parking space to be closer to the doors of the health club? As if a brisk walk carrying two bags and a set of hanging clothes couldn’t be a small addition to my workout?
Instead I had ranted about this rude woman who stole my parking spot TO the very person I was calling rude.
Who’s rude? Me and my big mouth. 😦
To make myself feel better, I reiterated my story to two friends (and, now, you). Both declared the other woman in the wrong for stealing the parking space and told me to forget about it. So why did this bother me so much?
It’s not the parking space I didn’t get. I now realize I had no way of making clear my intention for that spot; I was pulling straight forward and so couldn’t use a blinker, and I didn’t choose to block traffic to get in a more obvious position. Unless the woman had been waiting as well, she likely would not have noticed that I had been waiting for any period of time. So, really, my complaint may have been unfounded from the start.
But I think what bothers me is that I got caught. Had I known that this woman was THE one in the car, I would not have confronted her. I am not a confrontational person. I would rather silently forgive — be willing to accept the consequences of another’s behavior — than point to the wrong done, unless, apparently, I am doing it behind that person’s back, where I can rant and rage and get kudos for doing so. I think I consider it a form of entertainment. Shame on me.
In my reflections on the situation, I was reminded of this verse in Ephesians:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).
Reading it makes me want to learn something from this experience: to use my words to encourage others — and to drive for parking spaces more aggressively. 🙂