No, it’s not the one you think. This one has a longish gray ponytail and a silver Lexus with a solar-powered prayer wheel on the dashboard. And this is how we met.
As we were happily munching and reminiscing about the Meow Wolf experience a silver Lexus pulled up to the curb just a few yards away and stopped. The driver sat looking at his phone for several minutes, maybe waiting for a child he dropped off inside, I guessed. We took our time, marveling at the solar-powered prayer wheel on the car’s dashboard, twinkling as it turned in the sunlight.
What’s a solar-powered prayer wheel? Beats me, and I don’t care enough to google it.
After 45 minutes or so the driver got out of the car — that’s when I saw his gray ponytail — and walked over to the espresso truck. And that’s when a grandson, whose hearing is a lot better than ours, said that he thought the car was running. “It couldn’t be!” I said. “He’s been there so long.” The boys went over to the car and felt it. Yup, they declared it was vibrating.
Leaving a car idling for so long is foolish for a broad array of reasons. I wouldn’t do it. I would think ill of anyone who does, regardless of whether they had a gray ponytail or a solar-powered prayer wheel. But the fact that someone did something I would never do, I would think was a really foolish thing to do, isn’t relevant here.
We were all horrified for obvious reasons. As we packed up our trash and headed for our car I took a detour to the espresso truck.
“Excuse me. Did you know that your car is running?” The ponytail turned to me.
“Yes. I know.” No expression. Just staring at me.
Flustered I said, “We were wondering why? why would you let your car run for so long? I mean, was there a reason?”
“No reason. I just left it running.” Slightly bemused expression.
Telling a random person that they’re engaging in conduct which you believe is wrong is pretty aggressive. But there’s no harm in saying something. She was “horrified,” a word most people reserve for serial murderers, and she acted upon it. Fair enough. And ponytail guy blew it off. Also fair enough. But that wasn’t the end of it.
I reported the conversation to Roberto and the boys and the reactions were swift. Roberto wished that he had potato to stuff up the Lexus’ tail pipe, explaining that it could destroy the engine when the exhaust backed up. Jumping aboard, the boys grabbed a tangerine out of my purse and demanded that we return immediately. Roberto doubted that would do the trick, and I said I would always travel with a potato from now on. That seemed to mollify them.
This is where it goes beyond rational. Did they really wish to do harm to the guy, to his car, because they were upset that he let it idle? Did they believe that they were entitled to do damage to another person’s property because he didn’t use it in conformity with their wishes?
But it didn’t end it for me. I am haunted by the encounter. I keep replaying the exchange and seeing his bemused, unmoved expression, as if I were merely a curiosity, not worth listening to, part of another world that had no relation to his world.
Ponytail guy may well have been a total asshole, as if driving a Lexus with a solar-powered prayer wheel wasn’t bad enough, but on what planet does a random person obsess over the fact that another human being doesn’t bend to her will “as if [she] were merely a curiosity”? Does she harbor some belief in her magic Jedi powers that others will do as she desires because she is “worth listening to”?
People get to do as they please. You don’t have to like it. You may even be 100% right about it. And still, people do not have to do as you want. Because, like you, they too are people and they too get to make their own choices, even if you are the most special person in the world to you.
And you get to conduct yourself according to your conscience, your beliefs, your feelings. But you only have command of yourself. To believe that others must obey your beliefs because you’re worth listening to isn’t their problem. It’s yours.