Everyone has their own definition of what qualifies as being "mean," and for the most part I can usually look the other way when my path crosses with folks who get up on the wrong side of the bed.
As a kid having to deal with a severe case of buck teeth, braces and more braces, I built up some "thick" skin. The old adage of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me," became my motto. I won't, although, overlook people who are mean in ways that will cause me physical harm because I believe mending a broken spirit is possible, but broken body parts are another story.
I consider myself to be a fairly patient person and don't get too hyped up about things I can't control – like drivers who decide to stop in the middle of an intersection and have a conversation with someone in another car.
Having a case of cabin fever, while at work I decided to go out for lunch for a change. I was only a couple of blocks away, making my way through the side streets to the main drag. I was coming up to a stop sign and noticed that the car in front of me had stopped midway across the street to have a chat with someone in a pickup truck going the other way.
I patiently sat and waited for them to have their small talk, while cars were piling up behind me. No one could get around them and they didn't seem to care they were blocking traffic.
Eventually their conversation ended and after the truck sped off, the car in front of me, maybe because of this small talk with the other guy, decided to change directions and began backing up. It happened so quickly I didn't have time to honk my horn and he backed into the front of my car. As I opened my door to get out he took off, leaving me standing, looking at the damage. That, in my book, was really mean.
I gave them the courtesy of waiting while they illegally blocked traffic to have their talk. I didn't honk my horn or yell at them to get out of the way. If the guy who backed into me would have gotten out of his car and apologized, I would have said don't worry about it, because chipped paint isn't enough to get all worked up about.
After he hit my car, I saw him glance in his rearview mirror, locked eyes with me and then squeal his tires to get the heck out of there. It's not like he didn't know he hit my car because it was loud enough the person behind me could only shake his head in wonder as they just witnessed a hit and run.
Page 2 of 2 - They say "nice guys" finish last and that may hold true on these roads, but let's see who gets to speed through the pearly gates in the end.
Sandy Turner lives in the Kansas City area and writes this column for GateHouse Media.