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To the man who yelled at me: I'm sorry

POSTED September 18, 2015 8:29 a.m.
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I came across a post on Facebook the other day that struck a chord with me:

“The words you say out loud to others are important, but what you say to yourself is of greater importance. Make sure you are kind, positive and encouraging with your inner dialogue. Your happiness and success depend on it.”

My friend Stephen Gardner must have written that just for me, because I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness lately.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but … I had a sort of run-in with an older gentleman at an event last week.

Here’s the gist: I entered a “pass only” parking lot without a parking pass. We had one, but I had arrived in a different car. My husband planned to meet me with it as soon as I pulled up, but was a few minutes late. I explained all this to the elderly parking attendant but was told, quite forcibly, to “turn around and wait for him on the street.”

“OK,” I replied, wondering who poured lemon juice in his Cheerios. As I started to back up, I noticed a car behind me. (OK, that’s not true. The car honked loudly right before I backed into it, and then I noticed there was a car behind me.) The parking attendant suddenly yelled, “There’s a car behind you!” Yes, there seems to be. As I poked my head out the window and asked what he’d like me to do, the man told me to “flip around and then pull out!”

I told him I’d flip him around. (No way, I’m just kidding! I didn’t say that. Out loud.)

I made a U-turn, just as I saw my husband running toward me with the pass. So I stopped. The older gentleman waved me on. I shook my head and pointed to my husband. He shook his head and pointed to the street. We played a lively game of charades for about 30 seconds before he started to yell.

“Are you coming out or what?” he bellowed.

Confused as to why he still wanted me to pull out, I pointed to my husband who was now standing beside him. “No, I’m parking here!”

My husband, who had no knowledge of this escalated argument, smiled at the older gentleman and handed him the pass. The older gentleman glared at my husband, then walked around the back of my car and snapped a picture of my license plate.

Whoa. Things just got real.

“Brad,” I said to my husband in disbelief as he hopped in my car, “that guy just took a picture of my license plate!”

My husband got out of the car and, in complete bewilderment, asked the attendant what had just happened. I don’t know exactly what he said, but I suddenly saw my cool, calm and collected husband switch into protective mode — and fast.

At this point, I was ugly — crying and still unsure of exactly what I did wrong to make Grumpy Gus threaten to call the police. (Oh, yes, I forgot that detail.)

We parked, put the pass in the windshield, and waited for me to stop sniffling before walking past the attendant.

“Let’s just apologize and be on our way,” my husband said.

With my baby under one arm and my 2-year-old holding on to the other, we approached him.

“My name’s Brad,” my husband said, reaching his hand out.

“I’m not shakin’ yer hand!” he said. (I feel better pretending the attendant has a slight pirate accent.)

Shaking his hook, er finger, in my husband’s face, he said, “You tell yer wife that she be an inconsiderate … and you need to teach yer wife to … ”

I stared at this older man in shock as he continued to insult me. My husband asked him to apologize, which, of course, pirates never do. So we left.

We re-told the story to some friends and laughed about it later. But truth be told, I was deeply hurt and offended. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disrespected. I couldn’t believe the things he said about me, to my husband, in front of my children. It was with all this on my mind when I came across the post from my friend.

“Make sure you are kind, positive and encouraging with your inner dialogue. Your happiness and success depend on it.”

Growing up, my mom would always cite the famous proverb, “As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I don’t think I’ve ever felt the truth of those words more profoundly than the past few days. Instead of letting those insults roll off me, I let them start to dig roots inside my heart until I began to wonder if they were true.

I guess there will always be people ready to bring me down. And this little incident has made me take a good hard look at my character and see areas I can improve.

But positive change requires positive reinforcement, so I am going to try my best to think kindly of myself, to myself, on a daily basis — especially after my self-esteem has taken a beating.

So to the man who yelled at me in the parking lot a while ago, I’m sorry. Perhaps you’ve been thinking a little unkindly of yourself lately, too?

Also, you might consider trying out for a judge on “American Idol.” They’re missing a Simon Cowell.

I shouldn’t have said that.

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