Opinion

Doing my best to avoid confrontation

I was on my way down to the Cloverdale Rodeo at the fairgrounds last week. I wasn’t actually going to the rodeo because I’m not into confrontation these days, and I didn’t want to run into any animal rights activists. But some friends had some classic cars and trucks on display and cowboys, country music and classic cars seems to be a comfortable fit.

As I was cresting the hill on 60 Avenue, the driver of the car in front of me slammed on his brakes. Thanks to my lightning fast reflexes and total awareness of my surroundings, I was able to avoid hitting him. I looked ahead and saw an RCMP officer with a radar gun about halfway down the hill, which was why he had stopped so short.

As we proceeded down the hill, the officer came to the centre line, waved him by and pulled me over to the side. Maybe I was going to get congratulated on my defensive driving skills. He was not smiling. “Do you know why you had to brake so aggressively?” he asked.

“Well, the guy stopped pretty quick when he saw you,” I replied.

“I realize that, but if you had been travelling the posted speed with the right amount of distance between you, you wouldn’t have had to climb on your brakes.”

As I said earlier, I wasn’t looking for confrontation so I kept quiet, but he continued: “This long weekend is one of the worst for traffic accidents caused by speeding or distracted drivers.”

OK, I got it, but then the dagger. “We expect more from mature drivers like you.”

Now how did he know I was “mature?” He didn’t look at my licence, I wasn’t wearing a straw hat and I hadn’t been driving with my left turn signal on for the last mile. I prevented an accident and I wasn’t getting credit for my skills.

I don’t know what he said after that, and I just kept saying, “Yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir.” He told me this was just a warning and to drive safely the rest of the week-end.

I said “Thank you,” and pulled away.

At the bottom of the hill, I wished I had asked, “Hey, how bad did you screw up that you got stuck on traffic duty in Cloverdale on rodeo weekend?” Because I know that’s not the duty you ask for. But I’m glad I was mature, and didn’t lip him off.

Mature is one of those words that has bite to it. If someone throws it into an argument and yells, “You’re not being very mature,” it hurts.

Like the word “disappoint.” Your Mom can be mad or upset with you and those times pass, but if she ever says, “You boys have disappointed me,” that lasts a long time. No one wants to disappoint their mother. She was usually saying it to my brothers, and I know it seemed to really bother them.

Another nasty word is “whatever.” I hate it when you have just given a well-thought out and reasonable response to a situation, and your spouse or teenager waves their hand dismissively and says, “Whatever.” This is supposed to signify the argument is over, you have lost, and they are going to do whatever they want anyway.

But confrontation is not the answer.  Life is too short to argue. Be mature, just say ‘whatever’ and walk away. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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