Now how about this for a puzzle.
Yesterday evening friends arriving from London, turned into a narrow lane in our village, one we often take in our van. At a junction with a footpath, C slammed on her brakes to avoid hitting a man waving his arms and shouting, “You hit my car! And you are driving away!”
Mindful not to upset our position in this small community, C, who runs several wards in a busy London hospital and is used to abuse, took a deep breath and said, “Oh, I am sorry. I had no idea, I felt nothing. Let me get out and see.”
She proceeded ten paces down hill with her partner J beside her. The man still scolded her as he took photos of her car and number plate. Using his phone, J took some of the villager’s undamaged Jeep. The man shouted, “What are you up to! Taking photos of my property!”
J said he was simply copying the man. The man got angrier and shouted, “You people come into our village and cruise havoc driving like this. Where do you think you are off to?”
“We’re looking for the Drydens,” C said, “Do you know where they live?”
“The far side of the village. You shouldn’t be driving down this lane!”
“Ah! Thanks. Up there,” C pointed.
“Go off to the DRYDENs!” The man waved his arms dramatically.
C & J burst out laughing. Inevitably the man, whose Jeep was untouched, grew angrier.
C & J wisely got into their unblemished car and drove uphill to our house. If there had been any contact between the two vehicles, it would have been her turning wheel touching the edge of his which stuck out at a protective angle.
Our friends, civil, well mannered, educated, were understandably shaken as we discussed their story.
What do I now do with this man two hundred metres from our door in this little community? Do I calmly talk it over with him, adding in somehow that he’d been unreasonable, aggressive and rude? Do I mention that he too is a recent arrival from London? Will this simply increase tensions? This is a man who always thinks he is right, who has corrected me on minor points when either of our view could have been correct. Or do I do the English thing - ignore the incident? Will this simply brew up worse feelings in his mind over time? Having grown up beside a warrior tribe who despised dishonesty, my nature is to confront difficulties immediately and seek common ground. Or, my wife wonders, would it be better to wait and see if the man brings up the incident?
Life constantly creates such challenges and we always have choice. Naturally, one wants to create a harmonious future, but integrity and honesty come into the picture. This man has for no reason upset people we like. Is that a slight on us? And what did he mean by shouting out our name?
You see the problem? One has to be wise and skilful to avoid making things worse.