chariots of fire


Today the peace of a quiet cup of tea al fresco in Windsor was disturbed by two drivers disputing one parking space.

Both pulled in from opposite directions, both at forty five degrees, both nose to nose. One sounded the car horn in a pained expression of perceived right. Ironically one car white, the other black, like monochrome representations of right and wrong, good and evil.

They sat, drivers in cars, both with their metallic stake in the ground. Two full minutes passed before the driver of black got out and approached the other vehicle. “I was waiting.” he proclaimed. Inaudible exchanges took place, peppered with finger pointing and fist waving. He returned to his car and urged forward his chariot a full foot so that its nostrils were breathing into the bonnet of his white opponent.

Three full minutes of stand off passed. Then the driver of white emerged. His rant built around his claim that the first driver had in fact been waiting further down. More pointing, raised voices and threatening gestures. In both cars the female passengers looked away. As if eye contact might condone or inflame the behaviour of their chariot champions. Passers by could be heard to wager on the outcome, or to chastise the antics of these proud, if somewhat childish, warriors. Some tutted, some raised eyes skyward in a knowing nod to each other.

The second driver returned to his trusty white steed.

Three or four more minutes passed. The driver of white reversed out and pulled alongside the black. More words exchanged. Then black pulled into the space and a little beyond. White jerked forward then quickly into reverse. Surely a back to back conflict wasn’t about to begin?

But no. Black ceded the space. White triumphed like a checkmate move on the chess board. Black King was taken.

Pride?
Competitiveness?
Anger?
A sense of right and wrong?
Stubbornness?
Male testosterone?

Who knows? Human behaviour is always purposeful, but often the driver behind it is invisible to us. Just like today’s car joust, the actions attract attention, but the motivations remain hidden.

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