Conflict or Understanding? It’s Our Choice

Commentary
By Gary Kopycinski

This is not a spite piece. Really. I will neither reveal the make, model or license plate of the person with whom I had this encounter, nor will I make any description of the man, beyond to say he is a man.

You might call this a we-really-need-to-get-over-ourselves piece. And before I begin to sound too sanctimonious, I have been equally rude in the past and have, at times, been called out. When I have done so, I needed someone to call me out sometimes, and I needed to get that I was wrong, and I needed to apologize. And sometimes still do.

So, onward.

After taking World Religions students to Temple B’Nai Yehuda Beth Sholom for services this morning, I went home, took care of the dogs. The little one feasted on Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope last night. Pieces of it still litter my living room; my next project. After doing the "dog thing," I dressed for the gym, drove to Quality Classic Health and Fitness Center for a treadmill walk.

Driving down Main Street, saw a nice parking space in front of the gym. Yes, I freely admit the irony in that, while I as going for a workout, the spot was nice. Trouble was, there was a vehicle double-parked in front of a neighboring business. Decided to try for the spot anyway.

Turning around at the circle on Main Street, I came back to the spot and found that I could only maneuver the hood of my vehicle to the front of the open spot and needed more to parallel park. There sat the vehicle in front of me, emergency blinkers on, driver inside.

Giving a few friendly toots on my horn, I hoped the driver would move forward a bit so I could swing in. That didn’t happen. Backing my car up a bit, I gave a few more friendly pops of the horn so he might better understand after seeing my turn signal.

That made no difference either.

After a few more toots on the horn, moving my vehicle forward and back, I exited my car and gave a tap on the driver’s darkly-tinted window.

"Would you please move your car up a bit? I’m trying to parallel park," I said.

His eyes wide, the man responded, "Would you watch how you f***ing knock on my window?"

Oy.

"I’m just trying to parallel park," I said. He responded with a few more F-bombs. "I’m calling police," I said with a smile.

"You call whoever the f**k you want," he said.

Got in my car and began to dial the non-emergency number for the PFPD when he pulled forward about seven or eight feet, enough for me to finally park. Then I called the non-emergency number again and asked for an officer to drive Main Street, reporting what had happened.

An officer arrived a few minutes later, but by that time the man and his vehicle was gone. I thanked the officer for showing up.

Double parking on Main Street is hardly the crime of the century, and there was a time when we hungered for traffic in the DownTown. Well, there’s traffic a-plenty now, and with traffic sometimes comes conflict. Or, perhaps, a need for greater understanding that the universe does not revolve around us and we cannot set our own rules, even if our windows are nicely tinted.

Gary Kopycinski is a Village Trustee in Park Forest and an high school educator for over two decades. His views are his own. He can be reached here.