The scene: A dark night. Light flurries. Crispen street, a windy isolated one-way down-hill road frequented by individuals looking to dump old tires and anything else you have to pay to get rid of. A car is pulled over, running, headlights on. A man is returning to the car from the guard rail. I--a bearded man wearing a hat--am driving a large white van, my friend Jon--a bearded man, no hat--is in the passenger seat. I pull up next to the car, stop, roll down Jon's window.
Me: (angry) You can't dump here!
Man: (angrier) I ain't dumping nothing!
Me: (still angry) Then what are you doing?!
Man: (even angrier) My car stopped running for a minute!
Me: (disbelieving, still angry) Your car stopped running for a minute? (we are stopped on a hill, it is hard to believe that the car died in this location and then magically started again all while he was standing by the guard rail known to be a favorite spot for dumping)
Man: (angrier still, looks at the side of the van, sees TPP written on the side) Who are you? You're not the police! (opens his car door)
Me: (just as angry as before) I'm not the police, but I can right down your plate number! (I back up the van to get a good look at the plates.)
Man: (angry, quickly starts to get into car) Go Ahead! You won't find nothing, cause I wasn't dumping!
Me: (realizing this did not start out well, still pretty sure this guy was dumping) My man, wait, wait, my bad, I'm sorry, you're right. I work at that ball field at the corner and I bring kids up this street who help keep it clean. (car honks behind us, traffic is 3 cars deep behind me) I'm just trying to keep people from dumping here. If you could help keep an eye out for dumping. (can't believe I'm saying this, still convinced he was dumping)
Man: (less angry) Sure, sure. (gets in car, I roll up Jon's window and drive away)
I realize now that this interaction was doomed from the start.
1. I rolled down Jon's window, if anything went wrong it was his neck not mine. Sorry Jon.
2. Yelling ends communication.
3. There is a chance that the man's car really did break down, I left no room for this to be the case until it was too late. Sorry Man. I still think you were dumping.
Hopefully the lesson has been re-learned.