Saturday, June 26, 2010
My Lucky Day
I'm so angry I could punch a cop! Today I got called out by a police-officer-turned-Six-Hour-Course-instructor. The guy was a beast. Easily 6'3" and 295lbs. I know because he referenced his height and weight twice an hour. That's 12 times for those keeping score at home.
When I first walked into the room I expected to see a scrawny man in his late fifties with suspenders and coke-bottle glasses. Instead, he was a slick model dressed in ultra-fitted black everything, sporting a football player's frame, and less body fat than me. I don't usually plan on feeling sexually intimidated at my Driver's Safety courses, but today was my lucky day.
Actually, it was more like a sequence of lucky days leading up to this one. Two months ago I was pulled over. The cop said I didn't stop. I suggested that I did. Lost that battle. He awarded me a ticket and a date with the local judge. The whole trip was predicated on a frivolous Wal-Mart run to buy yarn for my wife. It seemed urgent at the time but the yarn remains unused.
Before I combed my hair and plead with the judge a balding District Attorney announced that he wanted to throw out some tickets. Sweet! It would only cost $150 and a Six Hour Course. I was eligible so I skipped the judge and signed up. Minutes later I watched the judge throw out an identical ticket. Lucky, like I said.
So at 9am this morning I sat stranded in a classroom with nine other delinquents. Two of them shouldn't have been allowed near a car! A husband and wife in their late seventies, both using walkers and both demonstrating obvious symptoms of memory loss. But the old man liked attention and he knew how to get it. He simply began talking - loudly! Whenever he wanted.
At first it was hysterical to see a hulking teacher utterly stymied by a senile guy, but after the five-minute mark of interruption number four it got old. The beast in black, with all the patience he could muster, puffed out his substantial chest and smiled a plastic smile. When the old man paused to breathe the model/cop/teacher interjected tactfully and never looked back. Situation averted? Check. Old man's self respect in tact? Check. Mission accomplished!
Later in the afternoon he saw me send a text on my phone. He stopped speaking mid-sentence. He took a step closer to me, casting a dark shadow over my desk, and stared. Once the attention of the entire room had shifted to my trembling self he spoke: "Should we stop while you finish that up?" He asked, with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Lucky me.
Didn't see that coming. The room started spinning and I felt especially small. High-school, take two, and action! Who knew a single text was the cardinal offense? He didn't mind when the college girls across from me were texting and giggling - all day long. Or when his wife texted five minutes later and he showed us all an image of his daughter.
"Um, I'm good." I stammered apologetically, as I slammed my phone shut and slid it out of reach. My face flushed slightly and I sank a little. My stomach clenched tightly. I wondered if he would refuse to give me my course completion certificate. Can he do that? And why was he picking on me and not the crazy old man or the distracting chicks?
I feel singled out. Call it paranoia, but I feel like I affect people. And I don't know why. Sometimes it feels good - especially when I'm helping someone or feeling appreciated. But sometimes it feels bad - like a surprise correction, or an insensitive word.
Maybe I pay too much attention to myself? Maybe I'm too insecure. Or maybe I really am a rebel? Whatever my problems, and I'm sure they are many, I don't like feeling riled up at people. A churning starts in my stomach and a hundred sharp retorts shoot into my brain.