I am so embarrassed.
The most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen at work, happened today.
I cried. In front of my bosses, my coworkers. At least half the office saw it, and I can only hope the rest of the office won’t hear about it.
I have enough self love to know that the reason I cried is not my fault….not entirely my fault at least, mostly the fault of a dangerous psychopath, but I still keep replaying the incident and wishing I had ducked into the bathroom to compose myself before walking into work, shaken, and welling up with tears.
This is a story, my friends, of road rage.
It started very, very boring. Driving to work, listening to recaps of the presidential debate, binders full of women this, act of terror that.
I turned my blinker on to change lanes because my work exit was approaching, and began to change lanes. The sports car behind me chose to change lanes at the same time (no blinker, of course), and I guess, having expected or hoped not to find me in front of his car again in that lane, he gave me several long honks, and then proceeded to menacingly tail my car. Inches. I could see his face. After a minute of tailing me, I gave him the acknowledgement he was seeking and flipped him off. Not to mention, I was annoyed that he honked at me for rightfully making a lane change.
Once I exited the freeway, it was clear that he was still tailing. I turned left at a light; he got right behind me. I turned into my business center; he was still behind me looking pissed as all hell. I drove into the parking lot for my office building; so did he.
Then, not sure whether he was following me or coincidentally headed to the same building, I decided to hope for the latter and drove toward a parking spot. He sped in front of me, blocked the parking spot with his car, rolled his window down, and spewed profanities. Over, and over, and over again.
He yelled at me for a solid minute (I’m not recalling much except for the word “fuck” was used a lot), and I literally did nothing. I didn’t blink, smile, frown, or open my mouth. I just watched him yell, anxious for him to move his car so I could park, and hoping he didn’t flash a gun (which, based on his rage and unfortunately his stereotypical punk appearance, I assumed he did have one). The more I didn't respond to him, the angrier he seemed to get.
He finally pulled away and parked in front of the building, and proceeded to walk towards the same building where I work.
I don’t know why I didn’t stay in the car at that point. I was wondering what I should do with my car since I was worried he would come back and damage it. But I guess I was thinking that my coworkers were my safety, and if I got to them they could protect me or tell me what to do.
So I walked inside the building, and he was there, slowly walking up the stairs, waiting for me. He glared at me with darts and said more angry things. He walked into the glass doors of the business right across from our firm, eyes on me until he touched the doors.
I walked into the glass doors of my work across the way, stunned, and froze in front of our secretary, a woman I consider a dear friend. I failed to get any comprehensible words out.
“what!? What’s wrong?”
“I….was….(shaky voice, eyes begin to well, two partners whose office doors are open right behind the reception desk look up to see what is wrong)….harassed in the parking lot.”
I couldn’t talk anymore, because I could feel I was about to start crying, and really REALLY DID NOT want this to be happening in front of these partners.
“what!? By who?”
“By….” (I point across to the other glass doors.) “By HIM,” I say, as he walks out the doors of the other business.
The two partners are standing up now, fully engaged, and all four of us look out the glass doors at the Road Rager. He sees we are all looking at him, and knows that I've just tattled, so he starts talking at us.
The partners step outside and ask, what is going on.
His response, so innocently, with a newly adopted restrained tone. “I was just trying to ask her why she flipped me off.” He talked a little more, became a little more defensive and angry, at which point:
Partner: “hey, hey, nobody flipped you off.”
Me: “um, yes, I did, he was….”
(some unintelligible chatter, everyone is talking at once)
Partner: “hey hey, go on with your day. Go on with your day.” And he shooed him away.
He was just a courier dropping off something at the business next door.
We quickly got back in the office, and everyone is looking at me. I am so not okay. Knowing I am about to cry is making me want to cry. I try and explain a little more about what happened; how he followed me into the parking lot, and threateningly blocked my car to yell at me. Tears….coming….oh no. One partner puts his hand on my shoulder, in comfort. This is so, unrecoverably, awkward.
I go to my office and try to calm down. I can’t even describe how badly I was hating what just happened, not because I was threatened, but because I was SO EMBARRASSED to be seen this way at work. Why didn’t I keep driving elsewhere until he wasn’t following me? Why didn’t I go in the bathroom before heading into the office? Why didn’t I just walk back to my office instead of stopping to tell the secretary what had happened? Why did I flip off a psychopath? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
The rest of the day only led to more embarrassment as I got teary eyed again when one partner asked me what exactly had happened (I hadn't been able to explain much at all during the tears, and I think they understood to let me be alone to try and get composed). He asked why it was shaking me up so much--was there some history here? No! I explained I had never experienced anything remotely like this before. I explained further, laughing with wet eyes still, that the reason I was so upset was because I was so embarrassed!
The day got better, albeit only slightly, when one of the partners did the absolute perfect thing. He came to talk to me, joked about how he had assumed he could save the day and tell the Road Rager he was wrong, only to hear me pipe up, “um, I did flip him off…” and then shared his own hilarious stories about road rage.
|Cheered up, still mortified|
I can’t wait for this to be 5 years behind me. So embarrassed.
Anyway. For fucks sake, I already know this, especially living in Oakland where people literally get killed over road rage (although my work is in a much sweeter family suburb area) but we don’t always practice what we preach: don’t flip another driver off. I don't think I ever will again for the rest of my life. Lesson learned, it only takes once to learn this one.
And while I'm giving advice: grow a pair. I can't explain why I couldn't compose myself. It bothers me, because I know that no other male over the age of 15 would have cried over this, and its frankly terrible for my profession for a woman to look "weak" or overly emotional in this way. I question if the partner was onto something when he wondered if there was some underlying issue from my past that made this shake me up so much. The only other time I can recall crying because someone yelled at me was my dad yelling at me, and that happened a lot (still occasionally does, although there is less yelling and more disapproving silent treatments, which affects me just the same). I also tend to get teary when I haven't slept much; when I am stressed; and maybe, unbeknownst until know, when I DON'T RUN FOR 8 DAYS. Hmmmmm?
I'm gonna go for a swim, where nobody can see me cry. Or pee. Just kidding. Holy shit this was an honest post. Thank you public diary.