Occasionally when I write, I pause to consider how a particular post is going to play. Will it garner comments? What sort of response will it get? How many retweets or shares will it prompt? I really don’t know how the incident I’m about to share will be received, but I’m just going to put it out there. Here’s what I experienced yesterday during an evening run.
It was fairly early in my run and still quite light out. As I headed west on Whitehall Road, I approached a group of teens walking in my direction. There were three or four of them, I don’t exactly remember – or, more accurately, I hardly really noticed. What I did notice was the tremendously bright smile on the face of the girl closest to me. Spectacular!
As we passed each other, the small group politely fell into single file formation as we met on the not-really-so-wide sidewalk. The teens were talking animatedly and the big smile girl made eye contact with me and said “She’s got anger issues,” with a nod of her head to one of her companions. I interpreted her tone as joking, and responded, without breaking my stride, with “She’s working on it!” What happened next was disturbing enough that it is still bothering me.
The girl with the “anger issues” started yelling at me – to mind my own business, that she’d show me and a few other choice words she felt I deserved for “getting in her business.” I had the distinct impression that if I had elected to stop and turn around, she would have been right in my face. Her voice and words were threatening and I chose to keep running, maybe even a little faster than I had been previously.
The incident brought to mind the coverage I’ve seen recently about “girl brawls” which have occurred around the Capital Region. I reflected on my own teen years and considered whether I would have ever been that aggressively confrontational with an adult in similar circumstances. My conclusion was no. I couldn’t imagine speaking to a stranger with such anger and disrespect.
This young woman and I were different from one another, and our differences did not stem from the fact that she is black and I am white. Her behavior and demeanor were hostile. She was assaultive and seemed to be actively seeking a fight. She was indeed angry and somehow viewed me as a potential target for her fury. She and I were not alike at all. But…
I won’t make assumptions about her home life, but I can tell you that by the time I was in middle school I had lived at 9 different addresses. I don’t know what the composition of her family is, but I do know that I never had the good fortune to meet my own father, or a single blood relative other than my mother and brother, until I was an adult. Maybe she comes from a family with limited positive educational experiences. My mother was limited to an 8th grade education until she was able to obtain a GED in her early 40s. I know about Medicaid and free lunch and long afternoons spent at social services as a child. I get it.
What I don’t get is her rage, nor her desire to inflict it upon me. I have no intention of give up my running route, but I do hope she finds a way to exorcise her anger.