Thoughts on “When Someone Threw Coffee on my Face” (by Ruth Frankenfield)
There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. –Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tonight, I went to see a play by, and full with, women I consider fierce. En route, a car seemed to purposely cut me off, almost causing me to hit it. I was a bit in shock and angry both.”I turned my bright lights on him and I drove right behind him. At the next stop light, I pulled up beside him. He was angry and seemed to shout profanities at me. I rolled down my window and said, “Really? You’re mad at me when YOU cut me off?!” He retorted, “YES!” And then threw what I think was his coffee grande in my face! It covered my face, my car and my steering wheel. Thankfully, it was cold. I didn’t know what to do but I was angry and tired and not feeling 100%, so I followed behind him with my bright lights on. I called 911 to report an assault by a taxi driver. A very nice and calm operator answered. She told me not to follow him since I could get hurt. I asked her what the procedure was, what would happen. She told me to give her the license plate number and type of car, and they would follow up. Something in me re-thought the whole thing. I told the 911 operator that I changed my mind. I did not want the police involved after all. “I am fine,” I told her before hanging up. The car turned down an alley quickly, trying to lose me, but I followed persistently. I had no plan. The car pulled over to the right, a youngish man got out of his car. He didn’t look so mean or scary actually — more sad, really. I sensed I didn’t have to worry and I wasn’t afraid. I pulled over to the left side ahead of him and got out of my car. I shouted at him, “Really?! You are going to throw your coffee on me?” He tried to reason with me as he was approaching. “Stay back,” I yelled out. “I won’t hurt you,” he replied. I could tell that he meant it. I started to sob. He was walking toward me, kindly. “Please don’t cry,” he said. “I should not have thrown my ice coffee on you. You flipped me off and that made me angry. This is my second job today, I am just delivering pizzas — that’s what I do. I am in a rush, like everyone else.” “This is not who I am. I am not this guy,” he added. “I believe you,” I said. “And, I am not someone who flips people off usually. I am sorry,” I say through my tears. “It has been a hard day. I am not a bad guy,” he says. “I am not a bad woman. I am sorry, too. This is not my way,” I say. “It is not my way either,” he says. “Please wait here,” he says as he goes back to his car to get a towel. He also brought a bottle of water. “Please drink,” he says, “It will make you feel better.” Then, he proceeded to clean my jacket and my car. “This is not who I am,” he repeats. “I have a son, I am working two jobs, I am just trying to do my best. I am not this person you think I am.” “I am not this person either,” I say
As if to start over, I ask, “My name is Mia. What is your name?” “Mohammed.” “I am sorry this happened, Mohammed.” “Me too,” he says. We both hugged, apologizing to each other. These are turbulent times for our world. “I don’t want to add to the darkness,” I tell him. “Me too,” he says. We hugged again. Both crying. “Keep your son safe,” I say. “Thank you. You stay safe too.”
One last time, we both apologized, hugged, shook hands and parted ways.
I just came across this great post from “Daily Good, News that Inspires” It made me think of the struggles each of us face as we move through our days doing our very important but often very difficult work. It’s so easy to pop off in frustration at someone whom we’re sure doesn’t care about us; maybe we even think that they’re intentionally trying to slight us. The truth is, most of us are really good and kind people, working hard to do our jobs well and manage our complex lives the best we can. Of course we’ll collide, it’s inevitable. And if we’re stressed anyway, we’re more than likely to misread and misinterpret one another’s intentions. For the sake of our own inner peace and one another’s wellbeing, Let’s try to remember the next time we feel “we’ve been done wrong” to take a breath, soften our hearts and offer one another a little grace. Before approaching someone about their words or actions take time to give them the benefit of the doubt. It will go a long way to improve your wellbeing and theirs.