I normally consider myself to be a fairly calm, patient sort of person. I’ve been known to be able to talk people off the ledge, as it were. When everyone else is losing their ever lovin’ mind, I can usually stay reasonably calm. Some of this I attribute to my general nature, and some to my Buddhist training. However, sometimes something just pushes the wrong button and well, it gets ugly.
I know Sarah Palin has this effect on me. But, I’ve learned to deal with it. There is a support group of probably several million in this country who may feel the same way. So, the hot hatred I have for her can usually get quenched with comedy by spending a few minutes on YouTube, or my nightly date with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Right now she is easy to laugh at. Who knows what my reaction might be if she actually got elected. I can’t even bear to think about it.
The other thing that gets under my skin is nothing of national importance. In fact, it is incredibly petty. But, when I got going about it today at work, I think I scared the staff. People just smiled at me politely and then scurried back to their offices. So what is that got under my skin? Our company’s parking policy, and the rather draconian measures some petty administrator is taking to enforce it.
Some background: I work for a very large healthcare company. I believe the largest in California. I work at the IT campus out in the suburban boonies. We have a very large parking lot. There is ample parking for all the employees with plenty left over. Across the street from our office is a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. From my own experience, if you get to the BART station any later than 8:30 am, there is no parking available, so people are either forced to park illegally or get back on the road for the horrendous commute into San Francisco and environs. The part of the parking lot they use is closest to the street and farthest away from our building, so it’s not like they are taking the choice parking spots. They are taking the dregs.
My thought is “please, sensible commuters, take our unwanted parking spots. Good for you not being another single passenger car on the road.” The thoughts of many of my colleagues? “Oh god, I hate those BART commuters. They park in our parking lot, even though the sign says “No BART parking”. Something should be done about them!”
So, the brain trust called facilities management decided that employees should be issued placards so they can distinguish between us and them, those evil, bad BART parkers. Security guards started checking out cars in the morning and issuing warnings. Me, I just shook my head and muttered about what a waste of resources. But, I’m compliant and I put my little placard in clear view so security will know I’m not one of those BART terrorists.
But as time goes on, I forget more and more to put my placard on my rear view mirror. It vibrates when I drive so I tend to take it off and throw on the passenger seat. Inevitably on the weekend, the boyfriend would then move the placard when he wanted to sit. Sometimes he just threw it in the backseat, sometimes he shoved right next to the passenger seat. He took it about as seriously as I did. As a result, I’ve gotten a couple of warnings, which have simply resulted in me rolling my eyes and muttering to myself about the stupidity and futility of it all. My colleagues continued to express their displeasure that those “BART people” are still part in our lot and why aren’t they towing these idiots?
Much to their delight, the neurosurgeons over in facilities management decide to start playing hardball with the scofflaw parkers. Apparently with nary a warning, with the exception of those silly tickets, they have started hauling people without placards out of the parking lot. When I came back from lunch there were four tow trucks each with two cars – and this was their second go-round for the day. A woman who was working at our company as a contractor got hers towed. She said she never got a warning. Another woman who was a BART parker, but worked for our company but at a different office said she got a warning two months ago. These are not evil people doing bad things. They committed the most victimless of crimes, yet they will have to pay a hefty ransom to the tow truck company to get their cars back. It makes me mad.
And my anger got even more enflamed when I tried to express my disgust to my co-workers. “Well, it’s about time.” “If they can’t read the sign, they got what they deserved.” I mean good lord, it’s not like these people were coming into our office and eating all the shrimp from our free buffet (not that we have a free buffet, but you get the point). I had to just stop and shut myself in my office before I went ballistic on a colleague who somehow through some convoluted logic ended her argument “and that’s why I didn’t take the job at Planned Parenthood because I don’t believe in abortion. ” Abortion? Parking? WTF? Oh yeah, and another told me if I thought our company was so petty, why didn’t I just quit. (But then again, this is the same one who told me to leave the country simply because I had lingering doubts about 9/11).
I don’t know why I let it bug me so much. It just got under my skin and burrowed in. I felt I was right morally, and we know how dangerous that can be. The more my so-called friends questioned my oh-so-stainless logic, the more I cleaved to my position, and rather than respect their opinions I became more and more certain I was surrounded by childish, selfish, petty morons. So, in criticizing their “us vs, them” thinking, I had created a “me vs. them” and made myself really miserable. Sure, I see that. But, it still bugs me in a big big way.