A couple weeks ago I was in a rush - what's new... I was cranky. Traffic was bad. I had a 30 minute window to get from my office at 5th & Alberta over to a network meeting in Kerrisdale. I am trying to find parking and looping around the block and beginning to feel very stressed about being late. I am on West 42nd behind a white SUV fully stopped at a stop sign turning right, it is already half over the white line and so when the SUV goes I turn right and go as well. And old man waves his cane at me but I ignore him.
I park my car and see the man shuffling up the street waving his cane. He gets to me after I have put money in the metre and starts shouting at me that I ran a stop sign. I said no I didn't. He tells me I am fucking bitch. I tell him he is cranky old man and to go shake his cane at a cloud. He then starts erupting in scottish accented expletive calling me a stupid fucking fat cow and a slag. I said you're are a miserable old curmudgeon and that I pity you and then I laugh at him, and use my young able body to swiftly walk away from him.
I feel the guilt, knowing what I did was wrong. I conduct the internal argument of "ya well he called me a..." I feel shaky. My heart is beating. I hate conflict. I hate being a bitch. I know in my heart he was right. I did run that stop sign.
I get to the café and I am early, The person I am meeting is not there - good thing I rushed to get there right? I stand around looking for a place to sit and then out of the corner of my eye I see the old man sit down outside at a table alone. I see him bend over and pick up his tiny yorkshire terrier. This is the first I see the dog and then the penny drops. I make a decision.
I go outside to him and extend my hand. I look at him and see one of his eyes looks blind, and his other is moist - maybe a leaking tear duct as can happen with older people - so I know his vision is blurry. He looks to be 90 years old. He is short and very grey. I say "I want to apologise for my behaviour, you were right I did run the stop sign and I frightened you. I am so sorry. Please let me buy you a coffee. My name is Elisabeth"
The man shocked looks at me and says "It's just so hard with my little dog, she's everything I have and everyone around here doesn't pay attention when they drive. I don't know what I would do without her." Again I said "I am so sorry, I was irresponsible and you have every right to be angry at me for putting you in a position where you were afraid for you and your dog's safety. I very much would like to buy your coffee."
He looked at me and said "I am sorry as well dear I shouldn't have said those things."
I laughed and said "That's ok, you were afraid but you've got quite a mouth on you."
We both laughed.
He said, "My name is Ian and I would like a decaf cappuccino"