Friday, June 11, 2010

Shame on You

During a break on our Wednesday night group ride, Shim was hit by a pen thrown from a passenger in a car passing by. Shim muttered something before jumping on his pedals to chase the car down. Seeing him in pursuit, the car made a quick turn and sped down a side street. They got away. But a short time later, the car returned and was caught in the front row of an intersection, waiting for the traffic signal to change. In a scene reminiscent of Tienanmen Squire, Shim and another rider rolled up in front of the car and promptly returned the pen while non verbally clarifying how they felt about the incident. A classic Shim moment if there ever was one.

Shim's defiance reminded me of a time when my Mom confronted a nasty motorist.

Back in the day when I was about ten years old and riding my first of many yellow bicycles, somebody in a 70s-something muscle car was making our neighborhood into a NASCAR training circuit. Neutral-drops, excessive speed and power slides through the corners were just a few of his skills on display that day. The idyllic tranquility of our neighborhood had been replaced by a haze of blue smoke from burning tires, oil, and whatever he was smoking inside the car.

My Mom had become incensed. Ask anyone that knows her and they'll tell you that to see my Mom openly express anger was a very rare event. (Passive aggression & guilt were her strong suits.) A very strong Catholic, my Mom was the spiritual, calming center of her husband and five children. Over the years, we gave her plenty of times to practice her faith and patience, but she was a tough nut to crack. In fact, I've seen my Mom enraged only twice in my life. Once it was directed at Dad. Having never heard them argue before or since, I thought they were going to get a divorce. They managed through it and have been on course to celebrate 50 years this December.

The other time was in confronting this driver.

So as the car was winding up to make another pass around the neighborhood, my Mom goes storming out to the curb to give him a piece of her holy mind. The driver approached at around 50 MPH while my Mom stood her ground at the foot of the street, pointing her index finger directly at him.

It was effective. The driver locked up the brakes and brought the car to a skidding halt about 100 ft down the road. He then dropped the transmission to reverse and laid an impressive reverse-scratch until he stopped the car right next to her.

A thick stench of burned rubber permeated the air. The driver leaned across the seat and asked roughly, "What do you want, lady?"

Heroically, she calmly rebuked him. "Shame on you."

I braced for what I thought was going to be a verbal assault. Or worse. Instead, the best come-back the driver had was to parrot, "SHAME ON YOU!!" He then popped the clutch one last time and left our neighborhood for good.


When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
-- Proverbs 31:20-29

Thanks for always setting the right example for us time and time again. You are an amazing woman, spouse and mother. Of course, I'm proud to be your son. And another thing:

Happy Birthday Mom!

In Wholesome Steel-Cut Goodness,


  1. Your Mom Sounds Awesome!

    I guess I never realized that you looked at me in a maternal way, that part is actually kind of creepy.

  2. Yes, my Mom is awesome.

    And no, I don't look to you in a maternal way. The truth is that I almost edited you out of the story as I didn't want to sully the happy birthday wishes to her. Too late for that now.