John Ege

the illusive reality of perception

Blog Post created by John Ege Employee on Sep 21, 2016

This is probably going to be more stream of consciousness than deliberate processing towards a rewarding conclusion. I took SAMA training the other day, basically a class on how to respond to someone experiencing heightened emotions, and or, worse case scenario, how to respond to physical aggressiveness by deflecting versus escalating the aggression. Basically, block and retreat. What I took from the class was a statement from the opening that there has been a remarkable increase in aggression in America. Not just road rage, but actual violence in the work place. And not from patients or mentally ill, but from colleagues and work associates. I can certainly own that I have gotten loud, and mad enough I have gone to HR. I can even report that I was assaulted while employed at American Airlines on four separate occasions, the last occurring two weeks before I quit and left the airlines after 24 years of having worked there.

             Interestingly, after the class, my wife was eager to report an experience she had had during the day, which reinforced the statement, 'an increase in aggression.' She made a purchase and was given a phone number to call to arrange pick up of the said product. She called the number and it went to voice mail. Technically, that was a probably the first clue that she had the wrong number, but she persisted. She called the number another 8 times. On one of the attempts, she left a voice message. On the last call, a man answered, and proceeded to cuss her out with a string of profanity that was intended to disparage and cow her into submission, basically telling her, "You've called twenty times now and are obviously too stupid to figure out you got the wrong number. Stop calling me you..."

            My wife is Thai, and though she speaks English perfectly fine, she usually designates me to make all phone calls, and I so I was please to hear she stepped outside of her comfort zone to complete a transaction that she engaged in. I was disappointed in this persons response, so much so, I was tempted to call him back and tell him how much I appreciated his demonstration of Texas courtesy. I might have also argued, my wife didn't call you twenty times, but that I find it interesting that almost everyone who is frustrated exaggerates the perceived offense. Do we all more than double symptoms? Is that so we can convince ourselves there's actually a problem? To convince ourselves of the 'rightness' of our position? I also wanted to take a survey, to see if this man was Christian. It's probably irrelevant. I have even known Buddhists that get mad, so it's not about the religion, but it does seem to me, which is subjective not empirical, that the people I know that go out of their way to impress the world with their religiosity seem to be the ones that are the most angry and the most aggressive. Again, not about religion. I have friends walking all faiths, and this phenomenon does not seem to be limited to one specified paradigm. My wife reported not saying anything, but was simply stunned by this persons apparent anger.

           Meanwhile, out of laziness, instead of shuffling cars, I simply parked the car on the grass and had gone inside after an interesting day at work. The above conversation about the wife's call was interrupted by a knock at the door. It was a policeman. I picked up my toddler who had followed me to the door and stepped out onto the porch. Before the policeman even introduced himself, I noticed the other officer talking to an elderly man who was pulled over in front of my house. His wife was in the car. This man's face was red with anger, and though I couldn't hear what he was saying, the rage on his face made me think spittle was flying out his mouth as he ranted. I brought my attention back to the officer on my porch.

        "Do you own the red bug?" he asked.

         "I do," I said, eager to get to the bottom of this.

          "Police car," my son said.  I affirmed my son's observation. He was excited. I was concerned, trying to figure out what I had done now.

          "There is an ordinance in Irving that makes it illegal to park on the grass and I would like to invite you to move the car so we don't have to write a ticket," he said.

           "I was not aware of such an ordinance and I would be more than happy to move my car and I apologize for any inconvenience," I said. I couldn't help but look back at the man who I assumed had called the police and tried to place him, but for the life of me, I don't think I ever saw him or his car or his wife in my neighborhood before and I was still kind of thinking, 'what the heck?' I admit, a part of me wanted to argue this is America, land of the free, and by God if I want to park on my own lawn, I am going to do so, but then, I have also learned sufficient discnerment that when a police officer asks you to do something, you just politely agree.  "I have to go in and get my keys, and I was intending to shift the cars around, because there isn't a car seat in the bug and I was expecting to take my family somewhere. Is this okay?"

            "Sure," he said. "Some people just have more time on their hands than they should."

            "Maybe so," I said, but I was focused on the feelings of heaviness in my heart that comes from law enforcement knocking on your door. I went inside to get the keys and hand my son over to wife and she wanted to know what was going on and, and in my urgency to comply with law enforcement nearly said 'give me a moment,' but remembered she had already had someone snap at her and I chose compassion, and so I took a moment to explain the situation and she was like: "Really? I want to move back to Thailand."

            This craziness didn't end here. After the park, my wife wanted to run into the store. I dropped her off at the front and circled around. On the third circuit, I had to slow because of a car in front of me. This car was proceeding slow because of a woman walking in front of him. From my perspective, the woman seemed to be purposely slowing down, as if challenging the driver. Again, this was my perception, and it might have been off. Her hips moved move exaggeratedly, so it could have been flirting.  Another woman had emerged from the store, was looking around, and was about to proceed across the street, when the guy in the car tapped his horn. This other woman turned to the car and adjusted her direction, clearly having been looking for the car; perhaps the driver was her husband or boyfriend. The first woman, however, assumed he was honking at her for walking slow. She turned to the driver and cussed him out. She even approached the car and slapped the car and pointed at the driver, yelling profanity so loud everyone was pausing to see the ensuing drama. The man shifted his car to park, got out, and yelled back at the woman with equal intensity, basically saying if she touched hit his car again he'd run her over. I am leaving out a lot of choice words about size and anatomy that might make a good scene in a movie, but this is real life. The other woman, holding her groceries, was hesitating, as if she no longer wanted to get in said car. Meanwhile, a car behind me, frustrated that movement had stopped, started to go around, but suddenly discovered why they couldn't proceed. Fortunately they didn't honk. I can only imagine how this could escalate further.

           The passenger door to my truck opened and my wife got in.

            "What's going on?" she asked, confused by the level of activity.

            "I think I want to move to Thailand, too," I said.