Of Comportment and Current Events
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
The back of my old CRV is adorned with a nearly forty year-old license plate (you can still read it if you squint in a certain light) and three bumper stickers. One is for my Congressman brother (we're not in his district but you know, family)
(also I'm proud of him)
another says RESIST (as in the GOP's vile embrace of authoritarianism) and the third is a Ukrainian flag.
A few weeks ago I was filling up my Honda at the local gas station, a place where Confederate flags barely raise an eyebrow, when I noticed a white car idling beside the little store behind me. It registered in the way those kind of things do:
(...must be waiting for someone getting coffee. Or picking up a ham biscuit. Or in the bathroom...)
Many dollars later I replaced the nozzle, declined the receipt, twisted the cap and headed out. I was idling at the mouth of the lot that yawns onto a very fast two-lane highway, when the driver of the white sedan, now in my rearview, leaned on his horn making me jump in my seat and come off the brake.
Towards a flying truck.
I recovered, re-stopped and kind of threw my arms up in the international symbol for 'That was unnecessary and very, very rude!'
I saw no apologetic wave from behind.
I waited for a break in traffic, began my turn and was again aggressively honked at, causing a surge of confusion.
(...did I hit something? ... maybe I didn't put the nozzle back?)
Then the white car suddenly pulled up next to me and then INTO MY LANE like it was trying to herd me somewhere. At 45 MPH. Shocked, I steered towards the shoulder and slammed on the brakes. My vehicle shook.
It was then that I realized that what had just happened wasn't merely somebody with bad manners. Nor had I run over anybody's shoe or driven off without paying. It was political. The driver just didn't like my bumper stickers.
Which made me mad.
I grew up in DC where I learned to stand up for myself. (When I was like 12 I was waiting to order at McDonalds when some creeper came up and put his hands on me. I spun around, punched and knocked him sideways. He left. I got my vanilla milkshake.)
I leaned on my horn. The word motherfucker may have come out of my mouth.
He slammed on his brakes ahead of me.
Uh-oh, I thought.
He clearly was weighing the benefits of getting out and storming over. Then traffic picked up. And he drove off.
When I told people about the experience some suggested I peel my beliefs off of my car. Others were firmly in the 'don't back down' camp.
Which is where I am.
Timothy Snyder, leading authority on the rising threat of fascism advises us to be as courageous as possible. (He also suggests current passports.) I am not capitulating to the homegrown terrorists in our midst.
In fact, I may even special order two new bumper stickers:
Stay In Your Lane
I Will Fight For Democracy