Why So Angry?

April 19, 2013

Posted By: Bozemama

All right, my fellow Bozemanites, we need to talk. I don’t know if anyone else is experiencing this lately, but I have been the victim of a couple unpleasant, anger-fueled public confrontations in the last few weeks that I am still struggling to absorb.

This is still Montana, right? We haven’t all spontaneously teleported to Syria or New Jersey, have we?

When we moved here nearly three years ago, our family was literally flabbergasted by the kindness and hospitality that seemed to ooze out of the neighborly folk in our new state. At times, it even bordered on embarrassing. But, after four years in Seattle and a combined total of ten years in the New York metropolitan area, we were like parched stowaways washed upon the shore of a lush, green island of genuine friendliness.  We loved it. Hey, the tee-shirts really are right: This is the Last Best Place.

And then, the unthinkable happens. I get yelled at. At the Costco gas pump. For Squeegee abuse.  Yup, it’s true. There I am, just swiping the heck out of my filthy rear windshield (this is spring in Montana, remember?) And all the dirty water is dripping onto the brake lights and pooling onto the rear bumper and it’s just a big fat mess. So, I grab some paper towel and am doing a kind of wax on/wax off maneuver with the Squeegee in one hand and paper towel in the other.

In my frenzy, I spot Angry Bozemanite #1 leering and shaking his head at me. Is he unhappy with my technique? What could be the problem here? My questions are soon answered as he barks loudly at me – in front of all the other Costco gas patrons: “It’s because of people like you ! That’s why the water is so dirty!!” The water? Dirty? Huh? Since I’ve already ingested my morning coffee, I quickly understand that he’s talking about the Squeegee water. Really. Wow.

Now, with all the horrors and injustices in the world – to say nothing of Justin Bieber’s appalling hat collection – this man is going to get all Kanye on my ass because I am using the Squeegee for its actual purpose. I know we all have our pet peeves, but this guy needs a hobby, dontcha think? Or maybe a Zanax or maybe a kick in the face. But the most shameful part of this whole ordeal is my response. I am a self-possessed 43-year-old woman who never used to shy away from conflict – but what do I do on this day in response to this man? I apologize. I heartily apologize, put the Squeegee back and drive away. Why did I do that? Could it be that my no-bullshit guard was down after so much time in this "Last Best Place?"

Angry Bozemanite #2 entered my life last weekend when I was maneuvering for a parking spot at the Town & Country market on 11th Ave. It was a Saturday; it was crowded but, for once, I was in no hurry. I found an empty spot next to an already parked car whose rear door was open. There was little boy in the back seat waiting to get out. I stopped my car and gave the boy the go-ahead-I-promise-that-my-car-is-stopped-and-I’m-not-trying-to-kill-you hand signals. (Perhaps I should have lowered my window and verbal contact. Hindsight is 20/20.) For whatever reason, the little boy did not move. I wondered at this and then tried to get a visual read on a parent, thinking that perhaps the boy was alone in the car and had decided to go find mom or dad inside the store. I figure the best thing is to park and get out so that I can talk to him since there is now a row of waiting cars lined up behind me. I slowly ease into the spot, open my door – there is more than enough room to do this, by the way – and get out.

Just as I’m about to make contact with the little boy, his mother comes around from the other side of the car, her daughter’s hand clutched in her angry grip, and starts fuming at me. Her head is shaking in disgust; she’s giving me the “talk-to-the-hand” moves; her mouth is telling me that I’m unbelievable ; she is one pissed off mama. Once again, I’m stunned. So stunned, in fact that I try to explain my whole plan about talking to her son and helping him out of the car. She won’t hear me or answer me or see me or engage in any kind of rational discussion explaining her vitriol. She just rages all over me and then huffs off into the store dragging her poor kids, who are both looking back at me in wonder. Is this how Charlie Sheen's mom behaved in front of her children?

I stand there alone for a minute in the parking lot, kinda feeling like – now this is embarrassing – like I wanna cry. I look around for witnesses, maybe someone who can explain to me what I did wrong. Did I break some kind of Bozeman protocol? Is there a manual about how to behave in parking lots that I forgot to read? Why the fury?

I mean we all have bad days, right? The hair isn’t cooperating, the kids are making you regret ever having sex, your pants are too tight, you spilled your coffee; whatever. We’ve all been there and, believe me, I am very far from perfect (anyone who reads this blog knows this by now) but isn’t life hard enough? Maybe I’m just a big fat baby, but – to quote the always wise and insightful Taylor Swift: Why you gotta be so mean?

A week later, and I’m still stewing about this. Like I have nothing better to do. And that makes me mad, like teeth-clenchy mad. So, I am going to do the only thing that you two – let’s call you Squeegee Nazi and Harridan – have left me to do. I am going to forgive you. Well, first I am going to write about you and then I am going to forgive you. Because, chances are – this being Bozeman – that we will meet again.

And I don’t want you to feel weird.

Kisses and lots of love,


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