A timely letter from Rufus: Today I was riding my bicycle on the street. I'd come to a stop before a streetlight, waiting for a green while in the left hand turn lane. Cars were speeding toward me of course, and peering ahead, I saw a man driving in a gray sedan open his door (while going about 40 mph), perhaps spit, swerve a bit, and throw out a used fast food paper cup. The truck following hit the cup. I had some time to think about it (a couple of seconds), and when the guy passed me, I flipped him off. He gave me the finger right back, not even hesitating. He was one of these scary looking Mexican/Latino gang member types, so I regretting giving him the finger a bit later. Granted, he did me a bit of a favor by not throwing his cup at me, but he littered in clear violation of driving etiquette (there were bicyclists and pedestrians, and the street was busy with vehicles). So I guess my question is: Was my action justified?
Rufus, you have done us all a favor with letting an asshole know that he is an asshole. Whether or not that man was a gang member or not, we can only imagine the ugly experiences that led him to be probably unemployed and littering in a busy street. Yet he must take responsibility for his assholeness, as we all must. It always helps to be reminded that one is an asshole. It gives us a clear picture for the future: pick the path of righteousness or the path of iniquity. Your finger, and his unhesitant response, indicates to me that he may be the sort that would lash back in anger, and deny that he's an asshole. Maybe he thinks the rules just don't apply to him. But come a few hours later, when this non-law abiding citizen recalls that he did something wrong and someone called him on it, the choice will be his. Either he'll be quicker to being dead or in jail, and do us all a favor with that, or he'll start obeying the law.
The thing is, Rufus, even bastards got a mother. I can tell that your flying finger was more deeply considered than most. Maybe your mom wouldn't be proud that you flipped the bird at a possibly dangerous stranger, but I have to imagine that the other guys' mom would have been even more disappointed in her son. After all, she's likely to be a devout Catholic, who, despite her modest means, keeps her home clean and her shelves stocked for the kids, and surely wants scum off the street. Now she's not only got a kid that's putting scum on the street, as in littering, but is also the scum on the street, metaphorically speaking.
That dude's not going to find you out and burn down your house, and he probably won't recognize you, and if you're in a large city, you'll probably never come in contact with him again. But if you happen to see him, tell him to be cool and not litter in front of bicyclists, and not to be such a vengajo, and pray that he'll choose righteousness over iniquity. His mother's counting on him.
--Adam S. writes Bad Advice
Bad Advice: On Relating to Strangers
No profanes - sacred