Salt Lake City, UT – 1997
On a Friday or Saturday evening around 8 o’clock, Jen and I went to a Harmon’s grocery store to pick up some dinner. On the way through the parking lot we noticed a pickup truck with loud country music playing from it. There seemed to be a group of four or five people tailgating in the parking lot of the grocery store.
As we walked to my car, one of the cowboys in the truck spotted us and began cackling hysterically. His friends cued into what he was looking at and they all looked in our direction and hooted and hollered. My blood boiled instantly.
We got in my car and I decided I would drive over to their isle and see what the fuck was so funny. I pulled around, rolled down my window and crept slowly up to where they were. There were two men and three women, all with lawn chairs in the back of the truck.
As I pulled in front of them, the one who had laughed the first time, the loudest one, pointed right at me and laughed hysterically. I stomped on my break, pulled up the emergency brake, stuck my head out the window and demanded to know what they thought was so funny.
A heated exchange began with them calling me a pussy and me calling them a bunch of redneck faggots. My argument was only with the men; the women implored their boyfriends not to gang up on a smaller, single person. Insults were hurled one after another.
Finally enough was enough and I went fishing for the ball peen hammer I kept in my console. As I looked for it the loud hick darted out of the back of the truck, ran up to my car and punched me squarely in the face. His punch landed in the third eye center of the forehead, which I felt swell immediately. His pal started whooping and hollering as he threw several more punched through my window, hitting me flush with each blow. I was overmatched and already behind the timing.
The only thing I could think to do was throw the car in gear and peel off. I was humiliated, and worse still royally pissed. I pulled over about two miles down the road and kicked dents in the passenger side of my car for about five minutes. When we got home Jen drew me a bath to calm me down but it didn’t help. Being a slave to my anger was pure hell.
The lumps were superficial, but my pride was took much longer to heal. Crazy to think how much avoidable suffering I took on. I could take the whooping; what I could not take was the feeling of powerlessness and inferiority.
There’s a great Zen saying that you are not punished for your anger, you are punished by your anger. I wish that would have made sense to me earlier in life.