One of my pet peeves (and I like to think I don’t have many): being asked to perform strange and seemingly unnecessary tasks a) in a tone of voice implying I’m fixing a problem I created, b) with absolutely no explanation offered. Especially when the request is made by a complete stranger.
I’m working from home today, and just now my next door neighbor banged on my door. With an expression on his face that said, “I’ve put up with this for as long as I POSSIBLY can, and now I’m being proactive about it,” he asked me, “Would you mind moving your car back a little bit?” Backstory: I live in a townhouse in an older development, and each house has an assigned (unmarked) spot along the curb out front. My car was most decidedly in “my” spot, and he’d managed to park his car in his without any trouble. (In fact, there were a good two feet between the nose of my car and his bumper.)
I glanced at our cars, then back at him, stammered, “Uh–sure,” then waited for the explanation.
Anything would have been fine: I’m unloading groceries and want more room to maneuver. My brother is taking my space tonight and his car is bigger than mine. I’ve started a new exercise routine that requires me to do deep knee bends in the street and I don’t want to dent your hood.
But nope, no explanation. He just said “Thank you” in a tone that said “FINALLY” and went back into his house.
And because I’m a good neighbor, I went out and backed my car up about 6 inches.
Reminds me of this time I attended Sunday Mass at St. Mary’s in Old Town. If you’ve ever been there on a Sunday you know that church fills up to the point of bursting. By the time Mass ended I’d been pretty tightly packed into the center of my pew. So as my fellow congregants began to file out, I knelt down to make a quick post-communion thanksgiving before leaving the church. Those on my left exited the pew for the center aisle; those on the right would (I assumed) head for the side aisle. I would not be in the way in either case.
Or so I thought.
The older man on my right sat for a little while in the pew; I assumed he was also making a thanksgiving and didn’t give him another thought. Then he stood up, and I continued to ignore him, assuming he’d head out the side aisle. (There was no one between him and the aisle, I’d like to add. We were the only two people left in the pew.)
Instead he just stood there. Maybe he liked to pray standing up?
Finally I glanced up, and raised his eyebrows at me and asked, “Excuse me, are you staying for the next Mass?”
Surprised, I answered, “No…”
And he sighed and asked in a tone of deep exasperation, “Then may I pass?”
I glanced significantly around him to the very accessible aisle on his other side, but he missed the gesture. So I stood and let him out, and tried to return to my prayers, but I was so distracted by my annoyance with the ludicrous and (seemingly) idiotic request I’d just been forced to comply with that I had to give it up and leave.
I don’t get it.
Maybe when I’m a crotchety, balding, slightly overweight middle aged man it will all make sense. Until that day…I remain confused and irritated.