I once heard is said that a test of one’s true character is how you react under pressure. In other words, when things are tensed or stressed all pretences are dropped and the real you reveals itself.
If this is true, it would appear that I am a grumpy old man with a murderous streak. As you might imagine I find this a little depressing.
The reason for the revelation?
I am struggling to understand how it is that in Bangladesh, in Dhaka the capital where, for most of the time, the traffic is blocked solid under 35+ degrees, that I can sit back and relax and be pretty calm – even when we have some appointment to meet or some place we need to go to. Yet, in Workington, Cumbria, yesterday, just trying to park the bloody car sent me into an apoplexy of rage and could – under the correct circumstances – have seen me arrest for trying to punch a guy much bigger than myself and probably (seeing as I don’t really have the physique of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger) have ended up in hospital.
I spent about 20 minutes sitting in a queue for a small car park behind Marks & Spencers. We had to wait for one of only about 30 drivers to return to their car to get a space. I sat waiting as others had before me for about 20 minutes until I was at the head of the queue when one guy overtook me and screamed how I was “holding up half of f***ing Workington”. Just at the moment someone pulled out with their car and he started to head towards it.
British sense of fair play overtook and I raced him (Grand Prix style in my mind) to the spot only to find, as he did, that we had not appreciated one crucial aspect of this car park. What I had not realised was that half of these spaces were for disabled drivers only. Sure enough it was a disabled spot and we both ended up leaving the tiny car park in disgrace as someone else took the spot behind us.
I then attempted to find two other car parks. One was filled with no sense of anything moving. The other, it turned out after I had parked was entirely for disabled drivers only.
Now I am totally in favour of disabled parking and hate it when I see non-disabled (notice the politically correct language I used there – how proud?) parking in reserved spaces. But considering these car parks were all next to each other and how it was almost impossible to see which spaces were disabled or not until too late, why could they not make one car park for disabled on and one for not?
Anyway, whether that is a good idea or not, it was the guy who tried to cut me up and tell me it was my fault that just sent me crazy. I was in such a rage that afterwards I could not speak even to my family without using words I would not use in school or in front of my mother. I almost prayed that something horrible happened to that man and his car. I certainly said it out loud to the shock of my wife and kids.
This ultimately just makes me rather ashamed that, having returned to the British Isles, it has taken me less than two weeks to undo everything I had learned in Bangladesh. I’m back to being grumpy, stressed, proud and with a desire to macho up to the next bloke. Honestly, I could have got out of the car and said “think you’re hard enough eh? Come on then, show me.” Of course, in retrospect, I realise the guy was built like a brick house and I suspect the situation would have ended with me in an arm lock on the ground repeating after him “yes, I am a worm” or something similar. Thank goodness, someone above had better sense.
So, a car park in the north of England behind a shop has managed to bring me to the kind of rage and language that I would blush to hear from anyone. It is a telling reminder that I really haven’t got it sorted, really don’t have any true wisdom and certainly don’t show my best under pressure.
It also means that, from now on – at least until I leave for Bangladesh again – I need to leave the parking to the wife. For a man ready to square up to Schwarzenegger that is the most galling thought of all…