I feel like the world needs a lesson in being decent vs. being douchey. Maybe it’s because Rudolph is inexplicably on TV before Thanksgiving and I’ve always thought Santa was douchey in that show, but mostly it’s probably because of the following story.
I get home tonight and of course there is a series of parking fails on the block resulting in several half-spaces and none full, so I circle around and start to head into the alley to park behind my house. I get a car-length in and there are two guys in my headlights with a two-wheeled trailer – not a huge thing, probably five, six feet long. It’s blocking the alley. So I stop, thinking the guys will move it – perhaps to the half-pad that’s to my right.
They appear to chat a bit, and then they look at me and kind of shrug. And I shake my head and gesture in the universal sign for Move That. The one guy walks through his gate (I’ve never met this guy), holds it to let the other guy in, and they both walk into the back “yard” (which is walled in with cement block, so I can’t see them).
So I wait, because I figure they’re strategizing or something, because obviously they’re not going to be that dickish. But one minute turns to three and then to four and I finally accept that they’ve actually gone into the house.
Really? That’s how you’re going to play this? I mean okay…
I debate approaches because clearly these guys are douchebags, but since at least one of them is apparently my neighbor, I decide to kill them with kindness. I turn off the motor, leave the lights on, get out of the car in the alley in the freezing rain and walk through the still-open fence to knock on the back door. (There are windows in the door and no curtains, so they really can’t ignore me or anything.) They have popped open some beers—how nice!—but they come to the door. I’m smiling.
“Oh, hey,” the one guy says.
“You need to get down the alley?”
“Oh, really?” he says flatly.
“Yeah, that’s why I’m sitting there.” (Smiling. Possibly a tiny bit passive-aggressive but I’ve kind of earned that, haven’t I?)
Seriously, dude? Are you stoned? Is that what’s happening?
“You want me to move that thing?”
“Yeah. Oh! It IS yours, right?” I mean of course it’s yours, but for right now let’s pretend I’m not making safe assumptions and I’ll be generous enough to let you own up.
“Yeah. Well I mean it’s his but…”
“Oh, hi, yeah, that’s actually mine, but…” says the other guy.
“Hi. Yeah…” (I think I’m still smiling, but there are amorphous blobs of ice-rain landing on my head, so I’m not 100% sure.)
“You need to get, like, what, all the way down?” the one guy wants to know.
“No, um… like halfway down.” (Smiling and fully aware that he wants to challenge why I didn’t just drive down the block behind us instead of the alley between us and it… yet not willing to tell him exactly where I live in case he decides that my requirement that he be decent warrants a tire-slashing party later tonight. His house is clean and he doesn’t seem to have criminal tendencies—he’s just a regular douchebag—but you never know.)
“Oh, okay. Can you back out and we’ll move it?”
“Um… well I’ll back out as far as I can, but… I can’t see into the street and I don’t want to back into the street, so…” Which is why I didn’t already back out, but you guys are A) douchey; and 2) kind of bad at context clues.
“Oh, yeah, okay, well…”
“Oh, actually, if you can just back up a little bit we can roll it into that half-pad right there,” says the other guy, who’s apparently the brains of this particular operation.
“Great!” If only someone had thought of this before, when you were both looking at me and I was making the universal gesture for Move That and then you WALKED AWAY AND LEFT ME THERE.
So they both come back out, into the freezing rain, and I back up and they easily move the thing into the half-pad. And I gesture at them to go ahead and walk back inside out of the rain before I drive by, but they wave me through. So I roll down my window and thank them and wish them a happy Thanksgiving and then silently plot to set their house on fire.
Moral of the story: if you have a choice between being a decent human being and being douchey… don’t be douchey. It makes people want to set your house on fire. (Hashtag DBD)
But honestly, why feel the need to be jerks in situations where you are clearly in the wrong? Not only were you blocking me from getting through the alley to my parking pad, but you were also illegally blocking the alley itself. Why stubbornly insist on doing something that could land you in hot water with the fuzz? If they drive by and see your contraption blocking the path of hypothetical emergency response, you’re going to get cited for it. And it would be a shame if, say, your house was on fire, and the emergency personnel couldn’t access the burning area.
I mean I’m just trying to help you out, here.
Hopefully the upshot of this mild neighborly battle of wills is that these guys feel kind of guilty for being dickish to the nice lady who was all dressed up and had to climb out of her car in the alley in the freezing rain because they were dickish for really no reason at all except laziness and an apparent forgetfulness of having had mothers who would be disappointed in them right now. This is why I’m always telling Gaybor Steve not to go all sassy on people right from jump. If you get bitchy at step one, you make the other guy feel justified in his initial behavior, and you’re at the added disadvantage of having nowhere to go from there. If you start out with civility and a smile, you get to be the bigger person and you have wiggle room for possibly escalating behavior.