A Black Hole of Rage

By William J. Furney
The Bali Times

Driving in Bali, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been whacked by another car mirror as we squeeze by a lane-road meant more for meandering bicycles than thundering four-wheelers, and once my driver-side mirror was sheared clean off. Or rear-ended in traffic. Or having to swerve to avoid a let-loose motorist on speed. The unexpected is always to be expected here, along with the odd scratch or dent along the way.

The point is: on Bali roads, no matter how astute you are, things happen. And when they do, no matter who’s at fault, it’s best to approach the mending in an amicable fashion. At least that’s my theory.

Not so one woman I had the immense displeasure of encountering this week, after my driver left a line of plastic from his driver-side mirror-housing on her car, and a small dent.

Upon learning of the incident, I phoned the woman, whose name and number had been supplied, and was subjected to a screeching, hysterical tirade about the “vast amount of damage” that had been done to her car, replete with a “long scratch” line.

The best course of action in dealing with someone of elevated emotion is to do the exact opposite, in a bid for equalization. But no matter how slowly or softly or low-toned I spoke, the rant and rage continued.

She seemed to have serious trust issues, because when I gave my mobile number (I had called the land line she had given my driver, and she couldn’t see my number), twice she counted the digits, up to 12, to make sure it was a real number and I wasn’t giving her a false one: “That’s one, two, three..” (I had no idea there were 12 numbers on a mobile.) And after I repeatedly told her I would pay, she still screamed like a banshee to get payment.

So not only did I personally phone her and give her my number and say repeatedly I was paying, but she didn’t believe me on either count and continued to wail.

Naturally the best solution was to get an estimate from a garage, and this was eventually agreed to, and the following morning, bright and early, the woman’s driver phoned me from a garage in Denpasar to say the mechanics had deemed the job small and it would come with a work fee of just Rp100,000, which readily I agreed to pay.

Problem solved? Not quite.

A couple of hours later, enter stage right the screeching woman, who in a shrilling phone voice declared that upon inspection of said vehicle, post garage work, she was not satisfied and had herself decided it needed “a lot of work.”

Why didn’t I want to pay? she hollered emotionally. (Huh? I hadn’t said a word!) I’ll call the police! she threatened. Police? And then she handed the phone to what she said was a friend of hers, who related the entire story of the damaged vehicle all over again.

The raging woman demanded I view her car that afternoon, an unlikely command I was unable to meet due to work – and so I sought permission for my driver to photograph the damaged area so that I might view it later in the day. No, she said, it wouldn’t show up on a photograph.

However, a photo was later snapped, with permission eventually extracted, and I saw it and the damage amounted to a small bump, about the size of the drinking end of a teacup. Shortly before that the raging woman’s driver had been dispatched back to the garage for a second once-over – this again had been my suggestion, to try to swiftly resolve matters (raging lady had been insisting that my driver take her car to a garage).

From the garage, the woman’s driver phoned and asked me to speak to a mechanic, who told me panel beating was required and would cost Rp450,000. Fine by me, I said.

All was not fine the next morning, though, when raging woman was back on the line and in full explosive form and not allowing me to speak and talking over me and repeatedly asking me – in a ferocious tone – to talk to her husband about all of this. Hold up! I told her. It’s all been sorted, the money agreed and to be handed over today. I then made a point of saying how extraordinarily difficult it had been dealing with her – and hung up. Afterwards, I put Rp500,000 in an envelope and sent it (the extra for a couple of Xanax she clearly needs.)

All at the back of my mind during this disturbing and violent-rage encounter was: how can someone blow something so small into such a big issue (with someone, me, who was cooperating) and what on earth would they do if a major problem befell them? Do they feel, as it seemed, that they have to kick and scream and threaten and bully to get what they want in life? What a life.

As I said to our columnist Lydia Wilson, a transpersonal hypnotherapist who knows a thing or two about human behavior, this woman’s enormously negative and aggressive attitude sucked up a large dose of my positivity and left me with reduced energy and feeling woozy. I couldn’t help but wonder what her home life was like. So, seeking to understand her apparent belligerent nature, I sought counsel in Lydia, who surmised that she was choked up and flailing about because of possible past experiences and would probably badly erupt in the future, if she hadn’t already.

“She sounds like an impatient, spoilt brat – bitch sounds more appropriate – who doesn’t know how to express herself properly or how to negotiate nicely to get what she wants,” Lydia told me.

“It seems that she has a lot of problems in her life, such as being unloved and misunderstood, that she is feeling overwhelmed by it. And the poor thing knows only how to scream and shout to express her feelings, which I can imagine only brings her more problems in her life.

“As long as she behaves the way she is doing in society, she’ll get herself into trouble plenty of times, I’m sure. And one of these days she will meet her match and get herself into deep trouble.”

Lydia said there might be feelings of being ignored as a child and that the only way she could get any attention was to make herself loudly heard, and perhaps that’s the case. There could also be issues of parental or sibling abuse, she suggested, adding that the most effective way to rid yourself of the negativity of such people is to understand where they’re coming from – their anger and subsequent rage – and then forgive them.

I’m a big believer in that. And that there are many bumps and scratches along the road of life, but it’s counterproductive to break out into a firestorm when they occur. A composed, measured approach wins the day.

Who knows what’s behind a raging person’s rage. All I know is that it’s no way to behave in decent, civilized society.


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