- On July 24, 2018
On July 22, 2018, CBS Sunday Morning began its nine-minute segment on civility by asking the question: Just how rude has life become?
The segment reporter stated that incivility has gone viral whether coming from the president of the United States or someone in a restaurant. After reading about so many disgusting incidents where people have been insulted and demeaned, I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment. However, I wasn’t prepared for the “vulgar incivility” I experienced when I tried to exit my condo garage the same day CBS aired this segment.
My condo requires that residents wait for the garage door to close completely when exiting in cars or on foot. If we don’t follow this rule, residents and/or their guests are fined $100 fine. I’ve been fined once and that was enough! While I patiently waited for the door to close, I noticed that there was an SUV in my rear-view mirror and another car coming toward me. I was sandwiched in the middle. The car coming forward was forced to stop. I heard a car horn blow, which startled me. I didn’t know if the annoying noise was coming from the back or the front. And before I could retract my hand, I hit my horn, too.
Finally, the garage door rested on the concrete and I pulled out to the right. I could clearly see the man in the white Mercedes sedan whose momentum was interrupted by my desire to follow the rules. When our cars were side-by-side, he motioned for me to roll down my window. I clearly have been living in the Seattle “bubble” too long, because I naively thought he wanted to have a polite conversation. Instead, he raised his voice and called me a c _ _ t and drove off.
For a minute, I was stunned, but recovered in time to watch him pull into the garage of the apartment building that shares our alley. His car and extremely suntanned face are imprinted in my mind. And if my memory fails, our condo building cameras captured the interaction.
I reported the verbal assault to each building’s concierge teams. Unfortunately, this was an unpleasant reminder that “crass incivility” can unexpectedly slap me in the face any time and any place….as it did for a friend, who was recently called the N-word while driving and accidently cut off a cyclist in Seattle’s Arboretum area; and for my handsome “adopted” godson with a caramel complexion, who is frequently asked to show his identification in order to enter his luxury apartment building even though he was the fifth person to sign a lease; and for married friends, who were walking in the garage of Seattle’s newest luxury condo building and a resident repeatedly asked them “Do you belong here?” Surely, they must have looked like suspicious actors instead of who they really are — a loving couple, who happen to be African-American.
YES, we belong here! And I hope that this “incivility crisis” does not fester and cause unspeakable harm. Even though, I experienced something that was awful, I refuse to lose my faith in our ability to do better and be better human beings.