It was a lovely afternoon and I was thinking of the dinner I’d cook with the food I’d just bought when I got home in a few minutes. I was pulling my groceries in my rolling backpack along the tree-lined sidewalk. My building was next after the one I was then passing.
A car had pulled into the driveway of the building next to mine and was partially blocking the sidewalk ahead of me. The garage door remained closed, and the occupants of the car, two women, appeared to be looking for something in a purse; perhaps the fob that opened the garage door, or directions to the building they intended to find, if it was not this one.
I slowed to be sure the driver saw me. She looked up, made eye contact, and waved to let me know it was safe to pass in front of her vehicle. I nodded and was proceeding to step in front, when…
I jumped out of my skin and stopped. The heads of both women in the car swiveled around.
In the street behind us, another car had appeared. It hadn’t been there a second earlier. The driver of that car had already given two angry blasts with her horn. She was indicating with those blasts and her gestures and facial expressions that she wanted the other car to get out of her way. NOW!
This wasn’t a polite little beep meant to say, “Someone’s behind you who wants to get in.” Not a short tap followed by a chance to turn around and then a friendly smile and polite gesture to the driver of the car blocking the way to indicate she needed to get by. A beep like that would have been okay.
The woman behind the wheel of the car in the driveway maneuvered into the street and along the curb, below the sign that clearly spells out, No Parking. I crossed the garage entrance, and after a few steps looked back to see the impatient driver in her car on the sidewalk, waiting for the garage door to open. The whole thing must have happened within 30 seconds.
There’s no law against impatience or rudeness. Still, are people thinking when they behave in such a manner?
Maybe people do that with a car around them because they perceive the car as a kind of armor that conceals their identity. (They’ve forgotten the license plates.) Still, that was so close to home; shouldn’t she have been conscious of the possibility that she might one day find herself personally interacting with these fellow humans?
Didn’t she consider that the occupants of the other car might be people who live in her building, or the person on the sidewalk might live in the building next to hers? Is she that sure she won’t be recognized later as the itch on wheels who blasts other drivers even when there’s a pedestrian crossing the other driver’s path? Does a person who does that simply not care if they are known as an itch?
Aren’t we supposed to be neighborly?
A rhetorical exercise, except for the first question, the answer to which, I’m convinced, is yes.
Specifically what they’re thinking can be answered by the title.