Leaving the farm, especially since the pandemic, has become rarer and admittedly more stressful for me. Over the weekend, I took my bean to Steel City Comicon at the Monroeville Convention Center. Traveling to the convention center was relatively easy. It is a straight shot down Route 22. My only complaint about driving in Monroeville is that there is a traffic light every few feet. However, these frequent traffic lights help keep my speed in check.
I was unprepared for the traffic going to Comicon. When we attended the event on Friday, it was very low-key. The traffic wasn’t bad, the crowd was minimal, and we found parking easily. Sunday was a whole other experience. It took us over half an hour to turn into the convention center from Route 22. Traffic was backed up; people were swarming outside the convention center on foot and in vehicles. To describe it simply, it was chaos.
There were security guards in all the parking lots of neighboring businesses, tow trucks awaiting parking offenders, and frustrated, angry people looking for the nearest parking place. After seeing the chaos in the parking lots near the convention center, I decided to drive to the farthest end of the mall parking lot, park, and walk maybe a half mile. The scene was much calmer, and there were no security or tow trucks in sight. Once the girls had their photo ops, we planned to shop at the mall, so I didn’t feel guilty about choosing a distant parking spot in the mall parking lot.
We pulled up to a quiet intersection with a two-way stop sign. The car in front of me moved forward. I stopped, looked in all directions, saw no cars, and proceeded to pull through the intersection. I made it a few feet into the intersection when a large older model car with a big old pitbull hanging its head out the rear window came out of nowhere. How I missed seeing this car baffles me, but I slammed on my brakes, came to a halt, threw my hand up in apology, and waved the guy through. We were not close to a collision; I thought nothing of it. However, the driver of the other car did not share my mindset. What happened next shook me to my core.
The man driving the car pulled in front of me and came to a complete stop blocking me in with no way around him. He rolled his window down and was screaming at me. I could not get over the anger on his face or his reaction. The only words I could make out were, “Bitch, roll down your window. I sat there paralyzed, waiting for this man to move his car. He sat there for a good three minutes blocking the intersection and screaming. Jordan and her friend Raylee were in the backseat. The Bean kept saying, “Oh my God, mom! What do we do?” I told the girls to remain calm and stay out of sight. It occurred to me that this man would not move until he said his piece. I reluctantly rolled my window down halfway and was blasted with the total onslaught of his angry barrage.
He kept pointing to stop the sign I had been stopped at, called me a stupid bitch, a f****** wh***, and said I needed to look where I was going. Now dear reader, I admit I made a mistake, but we were nowhere near a collision. If anything, it was a minor inconvenience. I yelled, “Dude, I’m sorry! My mistake. Please just go. You’re blocking the intersection. Just go!” Without a pause in his angry barrage of swear words and name-calling, he flipped me off and called me a f****** c***. To my relief, he finally drove off with his middle finger flying out the window.
I was stunned, to say the least. I pulled through the intersection and looked nervously into my rearview mirror, half expecting to see this late model car with its angry driver pulling up behind me. The Bean asked what he had called me. I repeated what he had said; her response was, “Wow, why did he get so mad?” Raylee said, “I’ve never seen anyone that angry before. His eyes were scary.” I could not disagree with her. As I drove through the parking lot, I kept an eye out for that car and decided to park in an area with a lot of foot traffic.
Once parked, I sat with my hands on the wheel, trying to calm my frazzled nerves. The Bean and Raylee asked me repeatedly if I was okay. I told them I was; I just needed a minute to calm down. I had this overwhelming feeling that I could have been in grave danger and had two kids in the backseat. I can’t effectively communicate the level of rage that was on this guy’s face, and the hate-filled words he spewed made me feel somehow violated. It all seemed like such an exaggerated response to such a minor infraction. My bean gave me a big hug when I finally felt safe enough to get out of the car. She said she was sorry that man had called me such horrible names. I told her it wasn’t her fault, there was no need to apologize, and I just felt terrible for his dog that was riding in the backseat. I hoped he didn’t go home and take his anger out on the dog. I added, “maybe he feels better since he called me horrible names.” The Bean and Raylee hugged me, and Jordan told me I always look for the best in a situation. I’m not sure that is always accurate, but I appreciate the sentiment.
I have to admit that feeling of fear and vulnerability stuck with me all day. The day was filled with wonderful experiences, and my child and her friend were over the moon, but that man’s angry face and those ugly words stayed with me. The look of rage in his eye made me feel like he was capable of terrible things. I feel if I had said anything in anger or retaliation, he would have escalated to violence. That, dear reader, is a horrible feeling indeed.
When we returned home, The Bean told her dad all about her amazing day and her wonderful interactions with her favorite celebrities. I, on the other hand, responded with, “I got called a f****** c***.” Eric was astounded and then outraged. He told me if anyone ever got out of their car to come at me, I was to stay in my car, and if they posed a real threat and had a weapon, I was to run them down. I’m not sure I’m built that way, dear reader. I think if I had to defend my girl, instinct would kick in, but I don’t relish the thought of hurting anyone.
I’m still in shock over the incident. I’ve asked the girls repeatedly their perspectives on the ordeal. They both confirmed we were not close to colliding with the other car, I didn’t say or do anything aggressive, and my response was calm. Whatever this man is going through, I hope it gets better, and he doesn’t hurt anyone. As hard as I try, I can’t get his enraged face out of my head, and his ugly words make me feel vile. I’m not sure why this nasty incident sticks with me so strongly. I also have a hard time understanding such rage and ugliness. After that brief incident, I went on to meet some lovely people. I met dozens of kind, friendly, helpful, and considerate people. The crowd at the Comicon was one of the friendliest crowds I’ve ever seen. I try to focus on the good, but this brief negative interaction keeps sneaking into my thoughts. I hated feeling unsafe.
In this tumultuous time, stay safe, be smart, remain calm, be kind, try to focus on the positive, and keep washing your hands.