Yes, have you seen my marbles because I’d really like them back.
Seriously. D’you know how mad I’ve become? Last week I leant my bike against a wall and upset some woman who thought I’d leant it against her planters. As I had taken express care to mind the planters when leaning it there I felt really put upon when she leap out from behind a wall, in her slippers, and started having a go at me. Obviously, she’d had to wait 10 minutes or so while I bought eggs and plants and chatted to her neighbours.
Then as I was leaving, out she popped. She’d clearly been waiting there since my arrival, letting her anger build, getting more and more irate while she waited to ‘have a word’. Suffice to say it was so clear she was a) not in the right frame of mind to be polite and b) very possibly a bit of a troll. Yes the smart thing was NOT TO ENGAGE. But what did I do? I had to try and be conciliatory. So she had a go at me and then I went and answered back and that just made it worse – but I had the presence to walk away then, I suppose, so a partial success there.
When I got home, instead of forgetting about it, I found I couldn’t let it go. So I made her some please keep off the planters signs, really nice, polite ones. I encapsulated them, put them on posts so she could stick one in each planter, stuffed them in an envelope and posted them through her door with the envelope labelled: ‘life is too short for bad karma. These might help to reduce the number of cyclists who annoy you.’
I wasted two hours doing that. All because I had to let the crap go, for my own sanity preservation, and I couldn’t do it any other way. And worse, her nastiness left my brain so coddled that a few minutes afterwards, when I popped into a shop, I left my wallet behind. After wasting two hours on the miserable Mrs Mangle-alike (80s Neighbours joke there) I wasted another two looking high and low for my effing wallet until I worked out where it was, by which time it was school pick up time and I had to rush, via the shop. When I went back and asked, they had it! Wahoo! But it took ages for the sales girl to get it from upstairs.
So when it was returned to me £5 lighter, there wasn’t time to say anything. Anyway, £5 is not enough to complain about, not enough to conclusively prove – certainly not until I’d checked all my pockets, handbag etc first which I didn’t have time to do on the spot because I was going to be late for school pick up and get a bollocking from the school. Later I did check. It’s not there. Someone in the shop nicked it; either the person who handed it in, or one of the staff.
In my life as it normally stands, that’s an exceptionally crap day. By 2016 standards it’s quite a good one.
However, it doesn’t stop there, oh no. A new and worrying trait has cropped up. I seem to be turning into a nimby-magnet. Yes it seems that I’m a red rag to the kind of person who feels it’s in the civic interest to tell people off.
Let me explain …
The latest incident in a long line was this afternoon.
Yes, once again the cause of contention was the sign at the bottom of the lane in which McMini’s school is situated or at least, the apparent invisibility of this sign to motorists. Bridewell Lane is two way for bikes and one way for cars but the sign that states this is easy to see if you coming from one direction but regulars using it from the other tell me they hadn’t noticed it until I posted a picture of it on Facebook. So I won’t be as rude as I was going to be about my antagonist this time but …
Today, as we cycled down the road on our way home, a dark blue Skoda estate stopped and waited for us. I thanked him and as we went by and I noticed he had his window open his head leaning, ready to have a word.
Clearly my troll-dar was down because I suspected nothing at this point or I’d have been sensible and ridden straight past but I thought he was going to say something nice about my son, people often do, so I slowed up.
No. He turned out to be another observationally challenged spoon having a go about my riding the ‘wrong’ way down a ‘one way’ street.
So here we go again. At what seems like an appropriate pause in the conversation I attempt an interjection.
‘Did you look at the sign at the bottom?’ I am amazed by the calm in my voice. Booyacka! Go to the top of the anger management class and take an A star MT.
That’s when I realise he isn’t actually listening. He has not paused for more than that brief moment to draw breath. He has no interest in hearing what I have to say. I suspect this is because I might be able to justify my actions, leaving him with egg on his face. Instead, he is merely spewing words over me, a spiel he’s mentally prepared while waiting for me to arrive alongside his car, a lecture I am supposed to stand and listen to, without replying. A lecture at the end of which he can drive away feeling smug and self satisfied, knowing that he’s done his civic duty in protecting the populous from ghastly women on bikes with no respect for the law! Heaven forfend that there might be a reasonable explanation for my actions. Nothing I say can possibly have any value … and of course, if it was be reasonable and he might have to adjust his view or, heaven forfend, apologise for maligning me. So he’s certainly not expecting me to answer back. Speaking is not a luxury he has envisaged for me in this scenario.
He carries on, ‘This is a one way street.’
‘No it’s not,’ I say. The tone of my voice has risen a little, less of an A star for anger management now and more of a C minus. Oh dear. I mustn’t shout at him in front of the boy.
Never mind, after the last myopic angry man had a go I have taken a special picture of the sign on my phone, I can show him that, and he will see reason. Except that it is approximately one million keystrokes and 100 years of waiting to even activate the screen, let alone find the picture and show it to him. There will be no time to explain myself before his tirade is over and he closes the window and drives away.
‘I hardly think it’s very clever to ride down a one way street the wrong way with a child,’ he is saying.
Yeh I’m sure you hardly think full stop mister because you’d be right if it actually was a one way street.
I am thinking that it’s very stupid to have a go at random strangers unless you are certain of the facts. Although, judging by my own experience over the last three months I appear to be in a minority with this view. I am also thinking that he’s on shaky ground criticising others quite so vehemently if he hasn’t actually read the sign. However, despite the C minus state of my anger management mechanisms, I manage not to say any of those things. A small personal victory to take away from this then.
He has finished and he drives off without giving me time to reply, just as I suspected he would, presumably with a feeling of smug self satisfaction at having struck a small blow for right thinking people everywhere.
But he hasn’t closed his window.
And before I can stop myself I shout:
‘Try reading the sign you blind bat!’ at a volume that would be the envy of fishwives everywhere.
I tell my son that it is very wrong to behave the way I just did in public, whatever the provocation.
A little bit of me dies, inside, every time I do this. But still I cannot stop myself. I still want to smooth things over, to explain. Why does it never dawn on me that these people are not seeking an explanation. They are not expecting any interaction. They are expecting to castigate me mightily for their own personal edification and then go home thinking something along the lines of, ‘hurrumph! That told her!’
Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.
Do. Not. Engage.
And yet I do. All the time.
I seem to have become a nimby-magnet and it’s turning me into a shouty nutter. Maybe I need anger management.
So, there it is, missing, one set of marbles: mine. If found please let me know. £5 reward for their safe return.