Saunders: For some motorists, being a jerk is a bipartisan endeavor

barry.saunders@newsobserver.comOctober 30, 2012 

Just as Anne Frank wrote in her diary, many of us think that, in spite of everything, people are really good.

Except when they can say, as many Nazis did, that they are just doing their jobs.

Or when they can hide behind the anonymity a computer keyboard affords.

Have you ever wondered just who are these uncompassionate nincompoops who go online and spew venom?

I think I met a couple of them over the weekend.

On Roxboro Road in Durham on Friday, my mechanic, Spiros, was driving me home when we got behind a little white Toyota Tercel. Our distance from it was respectful, but close enough to read the “Proud to be a Conservative” and “MITT” bumper stickers.

Spiros pulled around the car and I reflexively glanced over, expecting a wave or a smile or nothing.

What I got was a middle finger.

That was Friday. On Sunday, in the parking lot at the Streets of Southpoint, I sat waiting for a woman to pull out of a parking spot when another motorist – a young woman with a little boy in the backseat – zipped in and took it. I gently tooted the horn to let sisterwoman know I was waiting. She responded by rolling down her window and unleashing a barrage of neck-wagging profanity that turned the air blue.

Knuckleheads in training

Oy. Then, taking his cue from mommy vilest, the kid in the backseat rolled down his window and stuck out his tongue.

So, not only did I discover who the mean people are, I discovered from where future generations come: In addition to setting such a sterling example of noxious behavior for her son, the woman was pregnant. Her anger only grew when I waved and smiled at her, wondering from what wellspring such anger – over a darned parking spot – sprang.

Spiros is to this day oblivious to the other motorist and to the intended insult he flashed our way. I was simply amused, wondering what kind of day that guy was having, why he’d try to insult two people he’d never seen before and likely would never see again.

For the record, being flipped off is not a real insult. Think about it: What does a lone finger held up really signify – except, perhaps, for the flipper’s IQ?

Before the wackos who see a political conspiracy in everything – “What did that CVS cashier mean by telling me to ‘Have a nice day?’ ” – start crying “foul,” let me say that the guy’s bumper stickers or presumed political beliefs had nothing to do with him being a jerk. He was probably born that way, and I included it only to identify him to his neighbors and, if he can read, to himself.

Yep, pal, you’re a jerk.

No monopoly on rudeness

President Barack Obama and the Democrats likely have their share of jerk supporters, too. For instance, the sister with the foul mouth didn’t have a political bumper sticker on her car, but unless she has a few million in stocks offshore, chances are she would not have been supporting Romney.

The moral of these stories is that no political party, gender or race has a monopoly on knuckleheadedness.

C’mon, folks. Isn’t life challenging enough without having to deal with the gratuitous incivility of strangers over a parking spot or anything else?

Of course, nothing anyone says is going to stop real jerks from being themselves. They can do the rest of us a favor, though, by confining their jerkiness to their keyboard.

It’s easier to ignore that way.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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