Unclassified Info: Defusing the anger one tip at a time

From time to time, I have made passing comments about my merry band of haters — those individuals who get a tremendous amount of satisfaction letting me know how much they disagree with me.

Truth be told, I respect readers who take the time to express a differing opinion. I have engaged in some very polite, fascinating dialogues over these last couple of years. A few have even managed to alter my opinion on a couple of topics.

I’m sure it will come as no great revelation when I say there are a lot of angry people among us. In fact, I encourage those of you who may be reading this in a public place to peer over your paper and survey the landscape. I’m willing to bet someone within close range is scowling, sneering or griping about something that is wrong in the world.

Most of the time, the anger of others doesn’t interfere with our own lives. But when it does, we have a number of choices. We can let their anger resonate within us, thus perpetuating the negativity. We can ignore or diffuse it. Or we can try to comprehend it before making any judgments.

This week, I had two random encounters with a couple of very angry people, whom I tried my best to understand.

The first came via an expletive-filled note left on my windshield. It seems someone had taken exception to my parking in a yellow loading zone and used the opportunity to give me a sampling of their colorful vocabulary.

The insult-laden scrawl went on and on threatening damage to my car if I parked there again. Ironically, it was signed, “A Concerned Citizen.” This person then drew a happy-face emoticon, which — along with the numerous misspellings of body parts — amused me.

I was going to throw the letter away as nothing more than the rants of a lunatic, but for some reason I kept it. I studied the letter several times, curious as to why someone would invest so much useless energy. Who has time to patrol the streets looking for parking violators?

For those of you cursing at the mere thought of my parking in a loading zone, let me clarify one of the best kept parking secrets on Earth. I parked in this spot around 9 p.m., and if there are no other postings, yellow zones are fair game between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Of course, now I have to worry about being hunted down by the enraged group of drivers who have fought hard to keep this parking law under wraps. Sorry. I only did it in the hopes that the Loading Zone Avenger will read this and stop scribbling venomous indignation at people who have done nothing wrong. Speaking of which…

The second angry letter came via a reader, who took some time to insult me and let me know how much of his time has been wasted reading my column. Much like the note left on my windshield, I sat with this for a while, curious about the author’s intent.

I wondered why someone would occupy their valuable time telling me how I’m wasting their time. That really is quite the paradox. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure free will gives everyone the choice to read or not read something based on personal preference.

There’s an old saying in the car business: “There’s a butt for every seat.” With that in mind, I might recommend that those who feel I am sucking the life force from them consider reading the other fine columnists in the Glendale News-Press. Patrick Caneday and Dan Kimber do a nice job and hardly make me angry at all.

As far as a dialogue between me and you readers, I will always be happy to engage in intelligent, polite discussion of my topics.

As for the disgruntled letter writers? I’m reminded of the old grade-school rhyme “Sticks and stones…”, the always reliable “I know you are, but what am I?” And then there’s the junk mail filter for repeat offenders.

One last thing: if this week’s topic made you angry, take comfort in the fact that you got to walk away with a pretty awesome parking tip.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.

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