I often think about our encounter last summer. I find it amazing really that complete strangers can have a huge impact on our day. They can change the course of our day, they can change our mood, they can even change the way we view the world.
A few weeks ago a stranger chased me half way down the street to give me my sons glove, which he had dropped from his buggy. She didn’t have to go out of her way to do that, but the fact that she did made my life a little easier. A minute out of her day saved me the time and money of going to the shop for new gloves. Our encounter made me smile.
Unfortunately not everyone is as kind and helpful and sometimes an encounter with a stranger can leave you feeling really pissed off. You sir, fell into the latter category. My day had been going quite well until I met you. I had taken the big one to school, and then me and the little one headed off to do a bit of shopping. I drove round the car park three times for one of the illusive family spaces that make my life so much easier. There were no spaces though so I parked in a ‘normal’ space and went and did my shopping. When I returned to my car you had parked next to me. Although let’s be honest you may as well have parked on top of my car, for the sliver of space you left in-between our cars. Even Victoria Beckham couldn’t have squeezed her tiny sized bottom in there. There was no way I was going to be able to open the door and get my baby and his car seat in.
I was very relieved when I saw that you were sat in the driver’s seat of your car, and not in the middle of a two-hour shop in the store. I thought that someone up above was looking out for me when I noticed the space directly behind you was empty. I would ask you nicely if you could reverse back so I could get my baby in the car, and we would both get on with our days. It wasn’t that simple though was it?
I apologise for being such an inconvenience to you Sir, and from interrupting you from finishing your cigarette. And thank-you for so helpfully pointing out that I should have parked “in one of those child spaces”. Very silly of me not to have thought have that!
It was quite remarkable how you did a complete u turn on that subject when I very calmly and politely informed you that none of the family spaces had been available. It was a very interesting history lesson you gave me on how “you didn’t have spaces like that in your day taking over the whole car park”. You are quite right Sir. They didn’t have spaces like that back then. They also didn’t have many laws on road safety, and it was acceptable to lay your baby in a carrycot on the back seat and let him roll around for the duration of the journey. If I did that today I would be accused of neglect and endangering the life of my child. So yes we do have spaces now that mean I can open my car door wide enough to strap my baby safely into the car, and not damage your car in the process. I imagine you wouldn’t have been to pleased with me if I had dented your car.
Again I cannot apologise enough for the huge effort I was asking you to make for me. I mean the strain of turning the key in the ignition and putting the car into reverse would have had a huge impact on your day. You would have been far to exhausted to be able to do anything else for the rest of the day! And as you so rightly pointed out, what would I have done if you weren’t here? Honestly? Firstly I might have had a slight panic. You see the baby is due a feed in half an hour and I would have had no idea how long you were going to be. My panic would have probably made me weep a little and curse those people parking in the family spaces with no kids in tow. I would have had a bit of a dilemma. Do I leave the baby in the trolley whilst I reverse back? What if the trolley moved? What if someone took my baby? Do I ask a complete stranger to stand with the baby whilst I reverse back? What if the stranger took my baby? Do I ask a complete stranger to reverse my car whilst I stand with the baby? What if the stranger steals my car? You see, dilemma. What I would have done is made a note of your registration and traipsed back into the supermarket and asked the staff to put a call out for you to return to your car. Imagine the inconvenience of that. Having to abandon your shopping to go and move your car for a woman who didn’t have the sense to park in a parent space. But I didn’t have to do that. You were there. Just sitting in your car.
I have a lot of patience. It comes with having two kids. You need it in bucketfuls. I was in a similar situation when I was heavily pregnant and had a major craving for a strawberry milkshake. I drove to the shop and couldn’t squeeze myself and my ginormous baby belly out of the gap between the cars. I sat and waited for 20 minutes for the person to return to their car parked next to me. I really needed that milkshake. My baby hasn’t yet learned patience and if he’s kept waiting for his feed, he will let you know about it. It took for me to explain that I needed to get home to feed my baby for you to finally agree to move your car.
So with much huffing and puffing you reversed your car back. I must take the time to thank-you so much for taking 10 seconds out of your day to help me, and with such grace and kindness. And the 5 minute exchange we had before you decided to move your car was delightful. I found you to be an utterly charming man.
I think you would agree that I remained very calm and polite through our entire exchange. There were lots of things I wanted to say to you but I bit my tongue and smiled sweetly at you. I think I handled our exchange with dignity. I used my manners, even though it was clear you didn’t have any of your own.
I sincerely hope that you were having a bad day. Not that I wish that upon you, but that would be the reason for your unreasonable attitude that day. I also hope that if you ever need the kindness of strangers one day, that karma doesn’t come back and bite you in the ass.
Once again my sincere apologies for being the owner of the car that you parked next to that day and for being such a huge inconvenience to you.
Ever had a day where a stranger has restored your faith in humanity, or just down right peed you off?