The other day I walked from the West Side to the East Side of Manhattan, through Central Park, twice. Both times I was tested, and both times I failed. The first test occurred as I was crossing Park Avenue. Half way across the street and possessing the right of way, I approached two Hispanic men who motioned a semi-truck, which had been parallel parked on Park Avenue, to begin backing up. The truck had been just north of the street on which I was walking. The problem I foresaw was that when that truck backed up to where the Hispanics wanted it, it would have blocked the walkway and left me stranded in the middle of Park Avenue, unable to walk around the truck due to the cars running parallel with me. My time was running out. I had only seconds before the white walking man flashed the red hand and the cars sitting on Park Avenue awaiting their green light started toward me.
So, naturally, I kept walking, looked at the men, raised my arms and shouted, "Guys, I gotta walk."
They looked at me walking toward the truck in reverse, looked at each other, looked back at me, and laughed.
The truck kept backing up, and I kept walking. They kept motioning for the truck to continue. The truck missed me by a matter of inches, at which time, I looked back at the laughing Hispanics and emptied a spew of angry curse words at them.
Later, I was walking across the park for the second time that day, looking down as I walked, when suddenly I heard commotion in front of me. I looked up and saw a cyclist speeding directly toward me. I had seconds to react. Mind you, I was not walking on a cyclist path, but on a walker's path surrounded by other walkers lazily enjoying the beautiful day.
The black man trying to control the racing bike yelled for me to move out of the way. I inched to the left the same time he swerved to his right. I inched to the right as he corrected to his left. With the momentary God-given awareness of freed Neo in the Matrix, I paused, judging in a nano second which way to jump in order to avoid getting pelted and tangled in tire and gravel. I jumped left. He sped past me.
As he did, the curse words again flew out of my mouth at him without a second thought. I looked at the walkers around me who all looked back at the cyclist and shook their heads. I murmered something about hating cyclists and kept walking, heart racing. Then I heard him. The black man. He had stopped his bike. He was yelling at me. Voice booming through the park. He didn't sound nice.
I kept walking.
People were looking at me. I kept walking. Didn't dare turn around. Walked faster.
Ignored him. Kept walking, a different path than usual in order to remain close to people rather than take the more isolated path I usually took that ran under a bridge.
He finally stopped calling after me. I checked to see if he was following me. He wasn't.
Two tests. Both I failed.
I felt in both instances that I was wronged. I was put in danger, and I wanted vengeance. If only to hurt them back through words, I wanted them to be sorry. But in both instances it made no positive difference to my offenders. They did not apologize. They didn't care.
The only one left to deal with my anger was myself. And it felt heavy, and dirty, and dangerous.
I would have rather turned the other cheek than live with that anger the whole day long.