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October 7, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude

We’re not supposed to be delighted at the misfortune of others; however, what if the misfortune befalls someone who wronged you? 

Today I was driving to an appointment down Main, a busy street that cuts through the lively downtown area.  Mistimed stoplights abound.  Pedestrians zoom out in front of you no matter what color the light is.  It’s a dangerous place to be zipping around at noon time.  I’m ever vigilant about this fact, so today when a fifty-something man in an expensive silver car cut me off, I was able to swerve and brake in time to avoid getting hit by him.  It was a bad cut-off too.  No blinker, no indication of his intention, and barely room for him to fit his yacht on wheels.  And apparently no good reason for the move, as the light in front of us was red and there was no one in front of him and he wasn’t going to turn. 

But in a turn of events that will probably never happen again, a police officer was in the parking lot of a nearby establishment and witnessed the almost-collision.  The lights went on.  The siren went on.  I pulled to the side of the road and let the cop pull over the man in the silver car.  I resisted the overwhelmingly strong urge to beep and wave and smile at him as I drove by.  I feel a little more grown up today because of that, too. 

Should I have been happy that he got pulled over?  It may have been an innocent mistake on his part, but it certainly inconvenienced me, and could have resulted in a tragic outcome.  People rarely get to see instant justice served, so the presence of a cop in the right place at the right time was great.  And who knows, maybe he got a warning.  I feel just a little bit guilty that I smiled when he got pulled over. 

But not that guilty.

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6 Comments

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  1. romi41 / Oct 12 2008 12:02 pm

    I wouldn’t feel guilty at all; I would have rolled down the window and greeted him with some colourful language, so you did great by my standards! 😉

    And driving in a way that is much more likely to cause an accident where a person could hurt himself and others, well that’s the type of thing that NEEDS a little warning, at the least!

  2. morethananelectrician / Oct 11 2008 9:15 pm

    I have had that happen twice lately…and I never had a ounce of guilt. Pretending there is a cop watching me at all times has kept me from getting a ticket in 20 years…knock on wood!

  3. bluesuit12 / Oct 8 2008 7:04 am

    I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. I sometimes wish I were a cop so when people do stupid stuff like that I can pull them over instantly and have the satisfaction of writing their ticket.

  4. megan / Oct 8 2008 4:36 am

    “Schadenfreude…Making me feel glad that I’m not you!”

    If you haven’t heard the song from Avenue Q, I highly recommend you have a listen. It explains this feeling so completely.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Greg / Oct 8 2008 1:33 am

    Sweet instant catharsis!

  6. fawnahareo / Oct 7 2008 9:32 pm

    Heh heh heh. You’re apparently a better woman than I, for I would feel not even a little bit of guilt.

    I love the word Schadenfreude. German is such a poetic language… at times. LOL

    heh heh

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