Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hey, I'm talking here!

Is concern for others a lost art?

A few days ago I had a meeting in a Jewish community which will remain nameless. I was running a little late, and the traffic wasn't helping. I made a turn down a one-way street a few blocks away from where I had to be, and there's a car stopped in middle of the street, the obviously frum driver deep in conversation with another obviously frum man who is standing by his front passenger window. (I should mention that there was no lack of parking spots further up the street and he could easily have pulled over if he was so inclined).

I pulled up behind him and figure he will notice me and move his car. No such luck. So I guessed he just didn't see me. I gave a little tap on the horn. The man doesn't even look in his rearview mirror. More cars have pulled up behind me now, and their drivers are less patient than I. A cacophony of car horns ring out. I hold down my own horn a little more. The man is either deaf (unlikely) or just doesn't care (more likely).

This goes on for about 5 or 6 minutes. He is deep in conversation. Finally, he sloooooowly pulls his car into one of the empty spaces on the street. His friend walks over and they continue their conversation.

I'm all for judging people favorably. But there are times, when try as you might you can't come up with anything. I pulled my own car over, got out and walked over to the driver side window. He rolled down his window. This is the conversation that ensued:

Him: What's the problem"?

Me: "Didn't you see me waiting behind you? Didn't you hear all the beeping? I'm in a rush, I have to be somewhere, but you felt that everyone else should wait for you to finish your conversation? Do you care about anyone else?"

Him: "If you're in such a rush why are you standing here talking? Get in your car and drive away".

He looked at his buddy, they both laughed, he rolled his window up and continued his conversation. I walked away before I did something stupid.

Bishvili Nivrah HaOlam was not meant to be taken literally. I was honestly in shock that someone could be so self-absorbed, so oblivious to anyone else. I hope this is an isolated event, but I fear otherwise. When did people stop caring about anyone else? It's mind-boggling. Really.