last weekend, as i drove down a residential street to park for yoga, a guy in a white car appeared in my rearview mirror. he was waving his arms and seemed magnetically attached to my rear bumper. startled and angry, i pulled over in case he wanted to pass.
he wanted to stop right behind me.
then he and his sidekick got out and walked to my window, which was partially lowered. by this point, i was worried.
“miss, you scraped the side of my car back there.”
whaaaaaa? i thought, squinting up at him.
“there’s a bunch of white paint from my car on your bumper,” he persisted.
now, i’m the first to admit to having an awful short-term memory. but hitting a car, however briefly, is an event one remembers.
let’s pause to consider what he was hoping for:
it’s intimidating for women to be confronted by strange men, and after scaring me, he was trying to set in motion the female “what did i do wrong?” domino effect. the default state for many women, it’s where we doubt, then blame ourselves and ultimately accommodate the other person.
i’d like to think i would never believe some stranger’s claims. but the truth is, a few years ago, i might have.
in my mind’s eye, i see a younger version of myself leaping out, apologizing profusely before even checking the cars, and agreeing that yes, i was responsible for the “new” scratches on both vehicles.
accepting their bogus offer and doing anything to make the confrontation go away, i would’ve twisted my feelings to match his explanation, so his story made sense.
and what’s the five-letter word that would get me started? sorry. absurd as it sounds, i’d apologize for something i wasn’t even sure i’d done. women do it all the time. i used to.
luckily, my turning point with “sorry” came a few years ago thanks to my male roommate.
our kitchen is small and best suited for two people who are deeply in love (we aren't). traditionally, our choreographed kitchen ballet runs smoothly, but one night i ended up in his way while he tried to open the fridge. "sorry!" i called out, cringing both internally and physically.
"don't apologize," he said, in a “why on earth would you?” tone of voice. i took it to heart and the experience tuned me in to how often i apologized unnecessarily.
still, even in this recent scenario i could’ve weaseled my way into rationalizing his argument. the very fact i didn’t see him until he loomed large in my rearview could be proof of my negligence. were you really paying attention, Julia, or were you on autopilot because this drive is familiar?
check in tomorrow to read what happened next in part two.