The other day I met a friend for coffee. I was in a good mood and enjoying the beautiful morning. As I was sitting at seats outside of the coffee shop, I observed an elderly couple pull up and exit their car. The gentleman walked around to the other side of the vehicle to help his wife. He was careful as he assisted her with her cane, and she placed her hand on his outstretched arm. They slowly made their way to the front of the coffee shop and proceeded inside. It was an extraordinary scene as I thought about the love that existed between the two of them and how it demonstrated itself in their actions.
My concentration on what I had just witnessed was interrupted as a loud motorcycle pulled up to the curb. Upon the bike rode a long-haired man dressed in black. He wore a bandana on his head and had chains hanging from his pants and belt loops. He pulled into an area that was delineated a no parking spot. He pulled forward and backward and looked at the car from which the elderly couple had just exited. He finally parked and got off his bike. His body language was exuding negativity as he walked gruffly around the car, looking inside the windows. He then began to make his way up to the sidewalk when another man walked in the direction of the vehicle. “Is that your car?” he yelled at the other man as he got in his face. The other man was unphased by his behavior and barked back with, “Don’t yell at me!” The angry biker yelled again, “Is that your car?” and the other man just walked away, shaking his head.
The biker looked around and began to make his way into the coffee shop. I could see through the large windows that he was striding through the coffee shop, looking around and fuming. Just then, the elderly man exited the coffee shop. It appeared that he had gotten his wife settled at a table with her friends and he was leaving. Just then, the biker strode after the elderly man and yelled: “Is that your car?” The man looked up at the much larger and very agitated biker and just carried on his way to the car. This pissed the biker off, and he followed him. “Can’t you see the sign? It says motorcycles. You are parking in a motorcycle parking spot. I’m late for work, and you are making me even later!” The man got into his car even though the biker was hovering over him and barking at him. The gentleman closed his door and backed out as the biker just watched. I could see smoke coming out of the biker’s ears. He stood there and watched the older man leave. Then he turned around and stomped into the coffee shop.
I was astounded by what I had observed. This biker had just spent 5 or more minutes tracking down the person that he wanted to unleash on and blamed him for his lateness. It was truly incredible to watch how someone arrived on the scene angry and just looking for someone to blame. Brené Brown writes, “Blame is the discharge of one’s pain and anger.” I saw it so clearly in this example. The reality of the situation was this man was late to work due to his own doing. He came poised and ready for a fight with anyone who came in contact with him. He desperately wanted to unleash his pain and anger because I bet he didn’t know what else to do.
Messages to my daughters: Be aware of your own discomfort and pain. Process it in healthy ways and do your best not to discharge your unhappiness on others. We most often target our loved ones with our blow-ups. It can hurt relationships, families, and the wellbeing of the people we love the most. When you do lash out, because it will happen, apologize, and take responsibility. Continue to try to implement healthy ways of honoring and dealing with your pain.