Confrontations come with excess baggage

Grant McGee: local columnist

A total stranger angrily confronted me the other day. I’m not going to go into any great detail about what happened. I drove into a Clovis neighborhood and stumbled into a drama-in-progress. The stranger thought I was part of it.

Later as I tried to make some sense out of this confrontation that came at me out of the blue on a sunny summer afternoon I thought about other similar incidents.

Like the time I was running an earthmover with a construction team in Valencia County near the Rio Grande. We found ourselves getting stuck over and over again in some thick bosque mud. A bulldozer had to push us out. As I got stuck for a third time — BAM! A shower of dirt exploded inside my cab. It took me a moment to realize someone had thrown a dirt clod through the side window.

I looked out to see Big Jim the foreman. We called him Big Jim because he was just over 5 feet tall and probably weighed 120 pounds. I shut down my machine and marched on over to him. And there we were, toe to toe, glowering at each other.

“I’m so %$*# tired of you getting stuck,” he yelled.

“What’s this really about Jim?” I said, trying to stay calm.

Big Jim paused for a moment, let out a big breath and said, “We’re behind schedule.”

“Well that I can understand,” I said.

The whole crew had gathered to watch what they thought was going to be a good fight. Big Jim told them to get back to work then called a bulldozer over. I did my best to not get stuck again.

Then there was the time I was team driving an 18-wheeler with Frank who had just arrived in the U. S. from Trinidad.

It was my turn to drive and I found while I was sleeping Frank had driven down a narrow country road. I was looking out the windshield at a sign that read “DEAD END” posted in front of a cow pasture somewhere outside of St. Louis. The only way to get out was to back the truck up for about a mile.

I was so ticked off I flung open the door and jumped down. I had to walk for about 10 minutes before I calmed down.

When I came back I rapped on the truck door and motioned for Frank to get out.

As soon as Frank’s feet hit the ground he covered his head with his arms and ran away, making a high-pitched “aieeeeeee” sound as he did.

“What are you doing?” I called after him.

“You are so big and I am such a small man,” he said in his thick Caribbean accent. “Don’t hit me.”

“Come back,” I said. “I’m not going to hit you. We’re going figure out how we’re getting out of here. And you’re driving.”

These were some of my thoughts as I tried to make some sense of the recent incident with the stranger. It occurred to me that many times people bring their own problems into confrontations.

“And besides,” The Lady of the House chimed in, “it may not always be about you.”

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: