One day, I was driving a visiting friend and her daughters through rush-hour Philadelphia traffic. Chaotic jams and crazy drivers caused me to mutter under my breath and heave great sighs of frustration. This didn’t fool one of the little girls. In her posh English accent, she piped up and said, “You’re just like my mum. She doesn’t have the courage to beep either.”

Out of the mouths of babes. I am such an un-pushy driver that if a line of cars backs up behind me while I’m waiting to turn left, I’ve been known to turn right, just to stop inconveniencing everyone else.

With the arrival of my AARP card, a new day has dawned. Like the heroine of Fried Green Tomatoes, I’m not caring so much about what others think. For example, today I was sitting idly at a gas station (it was only $3.97 for regular in New Jersey, such a bargain), waiting for the attendant to finish filling ‘er up (no self serves in NJ), when a strange man came up and violated my personal space by sticking his big head through the window. It was open because I had handed my credit card to the total stranger who would be pumping the gas.

The attendant was on his cell phone while the pump’s digits rolled rapidly past $60.00, perhaps conveying my MasterCard number to his pals in the old country. The whole situation was fraught with fraudulent possibilities, but I couldn’t resist the luxury of the old-school experience of sitting in the car while someone else filled the tank.

Anyway. This scurvy man came up and asked me for money so he could catch a bus. He was close enough to do all kinds of damage to me, if he wanted. I considered raising the windows. Locking the doors. Blowing the horn. A second or two passed, and I said “You’re making me nervous. Step back.” And he did it.

No more Mrs. Nice Woman. I have found the courage to beep.

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