I have turned into Enraged of Tunbridge Wells. This is not a good thing. There have been some roadworks around where I live recently and various road closures etcetera to accommodate these. Not a problem. Happens all over the country when the weather warms up and is very necessary to keep the roads and us all safe. We all know that.
Yesterday I was driving down a road whilst the workmen were in the process of closing it. One of the workmen gestured to me and I wound down my window – he took the time to explain how long the work was going to take them, what time he thought that they would be finished, and whether I would be able to go back that way for the school run – he was lovely. Really quite lovely. On the way back later in the day, just as the work was completed, but the signs were not down, I spoke to a colleague of his, who was equally polite and helpful, and said that it was fine for me to go down the road to collect my children, but please could I do so slowly and with my hazard lights on. Don’t tell Man of the House this, but I did as I was told.
Today, I went down the road towards school and half way down it was a sign “Road Closed.” As I was half way down the road and there was no way of turning off I thought “oh well, maybe it’s like yesterday and they are just putting the signs up.” I got further down the road and the road was most definitely closed. There was a barrier across one half of the road and a van across the other. In the van was a man. I raised my hands to see if there was a possibility of him letting me through as I clearly had children to get to school as evidenced by my son sat in the seat next to me. He folded his arms and stared at me. Entirely expressionless. And he continued to stare. In fact, he didn’t take his eyes off me. And I don’t think it was because he was beguiled by my stunning beauty.
I do not believe that I am a person who is backwards in coming forwards, and I was very cross at his behaviour. Particularly at such behaviour in front of my children, and I could tell that my son was getting quite anxious. However, at this point I had to make a judgement, as I expect that all women have had to make, and has probably never entered the heads of their male counterparts or peers. Did I get out of the car and suggest to this man that his people skills needed some work? I considered it as he continued to stare at me from his van. I decided that all I was probably going to get was a load of abuse, or worse, which was presumably the desired effect of the staring. So in fairness to him, it worked. Whilst I did not find his behaviour in any way acceptable, I didn’t want a row and I didn’t want my children to see it. So I turned the car around. As I drove away, I wondered to myself if he would have done such a thing had Man of the House been on the school run? I suspect not.
After the kids were safely as school, as there were a number of workmen around, and being a stroppy madam, I considered locating this man’s superior and making a complaint in person. Due to the nature of the staring, and already being quite upset about it, I didn’t want to risk being shouted at by several men. I should like to apologise to these men for judging them by their colleague’s woeful standards, but that is how I felt. Instead, I took a mental note of their company and telephoned them when I got home. The lady to whom I spoke was perfectly pleasant and assured me that he would be spoken to. I wonder if my car happens to be keyed at any point over the next twenty four hours if it will be a coincidence.
Although as it happens, there will be a second candidate for the car keying. After I got back from taking the Hound out for his morning constitutional, a man delivering something to my neighbour seemed to find no issue whatsoever with not only parking across my drive, but also blocking my car in. He must have been the passive aggressive twin of Man in Van Starer because he did not look at me at all. Even though I was sat in my front window on my computer, which is entirely and wholly visible from where he had parked. He did not look up. He did not turn to face me. He kept his sunglasses on which presumably meant that if I couldn’t see his eyes, he wasn’t really there.
If I could just pause – I have no problem with him parking there if it makes his life easier – I didn’t need to go out – not that he knew that. Equally, he could have parked across the road which would have been safer all round for him and for other road users. However, his poor safety choices aside, a few words to say that he wasn’t going to be long and to ask if I minded would not have gone amiss. It would also have not required him to lift a small roll of gaffer tape onto his shoulder like he was carrying a newly felled tree as if to emphasize the arduous nature of his delivery to me.
When it became apparent that he was going park for as long as he damned well wanted, I considered the question again for the second time in a morning. Did I tackle him and his colleague direct? Yes, there were two of them, both ignoring the fact one of them was blocking me in by parking on my land. I considered it. But then again, I live in a quiet village and they could, if so minded, make my life thoroughly unpleasant and really upset me in that moment if they chose to. So I decided against it and fumed quietly. Well not very quietly. I have emailed his company to ask if in future, their drivers wouldn’t mind just asking homeowners if they object to their drives being used and cars being blocked in? All the time I wonder, would they have done that if Man of the House had been in and not me?
I know that all women often have to make such judgements when faced with a man acting like a toddler. It makes me so bloody angry because we know, all women know, as do their male partners and friends, that these men would not behave in such a way to them. Which obviously means that they should not be behaving that way at all, if the only thing stopping them from doing so is the prospect of a smack in the gob.
So as I continue to fume, I shall leave you with this. My son and daughter are learning karate. Their Sensei is a second dan black belt and also happens to be a woman. She is an unassuming but quite brilliant woman, and you would never know to look at her that she could, if she chose to, down with you one flick of her hand. When she was nineteen and had not been driving long, someone rear-ended her at a roundabout. Her first, and hopefully her last, bump. She got out of the car expecting to be faced with an enraged driver. Now you may ultimately conclude that I am doing this man a disservice, but apparently he was charm personified. She said that he checked her car for the scratches and whether it was safe for her to drive. He made sure she was okay and not too shaken up. They exchanged insurance details and went their separate ways. Sensei got back into her car, surprised at how pleasant the whole incident had been. Then she looked down. She was on her way to training. In her gi. She was a brown belt at the time. Oh how I wish that I had had her with me this morning.