I'm a law-abiding citizen. A "standup guy", if you will.
My worst legal transgression is my habit of driving 5-7 mph over the speed limit.
I know what you're thinking: a real wild man, this guy. *eyeroll*
Well, I am what I am, and right now I'm an adult with a wife, a mortgage, a job, and a retirement account.
In other words, I've got shit to lose. Even if I have a stupid impulse (and these are more and more rare as I age), it only takes me a moment to consider the negative consequences of acting on it. Impulse purged.
Unless...something gets in the way of that purge. I don't worry about peer pressure, lust, any of that stuff.
Nope. I know myself pretty well, and the only thing that worries me is that someone will just royally piss me off / get my goat / push my buttons.
And I will pummel him.
Mind you, a single act is never enough to get me that angry. I will always present an opportunity to defuse the situation. Even a modicum of remorse, humanity, or explanation is enough to talk me down.
What am I getting at?
Today, I spent my lunch hour at Oak Park Mall shopping. As I left the mall, I noticed a car one aisle over swing into the parking spaces a bit aggressively.
Sure enough, the car pulled all the way through about 5 feet in front of me without looking.
I'm glad I saw it coming; even so, I had to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision. I laid on my horn as well. Yeah, I was kinda pissed. It was a really damn close call.
However, the whole thing could have been over quickly. If he had raised his hand and waved or given any acknowledgment whatsoever that could be construed as "my bad", I would have waved back, calmed down, and the situation would have been over.
Recognition. Apology. No escalation. Done.
The next best option would have been what usually happens in this type of scenario: Driver is embarrassed by own incompetence, puts head down, and hightails it away hoping no eye contact will happen.
No acknowledgment, so I would have stewed on it for a few minutes (again, it was really close) but I would have been over it by the time I sat through a traffic signal.
Bastard flipped ME off.
And I about lost it.
YOU messed up. YOU don't get to flip ME off!
My mind danced with visions of the furious beating I dreamed of laying on this asswipe. That middle finger of his was emboldened by the false sense of security his car provided.
After realizing that I was still right behind him, he got scared, cut through another gap in the parking lot, and ran a stop sign.
Right in front of a Sheriff's vehicle. He was pulled over immediately.
This isn't the first time karma has been repaid so swiftly. That calmed me down pretty quickly.
And I like to think that in any situation I'll calm down, no matter what fingers are raised, no matter what words are spoken.
But I acknowledge that one day, someone might say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and a lesson will be taught.
I doubt this will ever happen. But if you ever get a call from jail, and it's me on the other end of the line, just know that something like this will probably be the reason why.