“Tonight, I went to see a play by, and full with, women I consider fierce.
En route, a car seemed to purposely cut me off, almost causing me to hit it. I was a bit in shock and angry both.”I turned my bright lights on him and I drove right behind him. At the next stop light, I pulled up beside him. He was angry, and seemed to shout profanities at me.
I rolled down my window and said, “Really? You’re mad at me when YOU cut me off?!”
He retorted, “YES!” And then threw what I think was his coffee grande (with cream) in my face!
It covered my face, my car and my steering wheel. Thankfully, it was cold.
I didn’t know what to do but I was angry and tired and not feeling 100%, so I followed behind him with my bright lights on.
I called 911 to report an assault by a taxi driver. A very nice and calm operator answered. She told me not to follow him since I could get hurt. I asked her what the procedure was, what would happen. She told me to give her the license plate number and type of car, and they would follow up.
Something in me re-thought the whole thing. I told the 911 operator that I changed my mind. I did not want the police involved after all. “I am fine,” I told her before hanging up.
The car turned down an alley quickly, trying to lose me, but I followed persistently.
I had no plan.
The car pulled over to the right, a youngish man got out of his car. He didn’t look so mean or scary actually — more sad, really. I sensed I didn’t have to worry and I wasn’t afraid.
I pulled over to the left side ahead of him and got out of my car. I shouted at him, “Really?! You are going to throw your coffee on me?” He tried to reason with me as he was approaching.
“Stay back,” I yelled out. “I won’t hurt you,” he replied. I could tell that he meant it. I started to sob. He was walking toward me, kindly.
“Please don’t cry,” he said. “I should not have thrown my ice coffee on you. You flipped me off and that made me angry. This is my second job today, I am just delivering pizzas — that’s what I do. I am in a rush, like everyone else.”
“This is not who I am. I am not this guy,” he added.
“I believe you,” I said.
“And, I am not someone who flips people off usually. I am sorry,” I say through my tears.
“It has been a hard day. I am not a bad guy,” he says. “I am not a bad woman. I am sorry, too. This is not my way,” I say. “It is not my way either,” he says.
“Please wait here,” he says as he goes back to his car to get a towel. He also brought a bottle of water. “Please drink,” he says, “It will make you feel better.” Then, he proceeded to clean my jacket and my car.
“This is not who I am,” he repeats. “I have a son, I am working two jobs, I am just trying to do my best. I am not this person you think I am.”
“I am not this person either,” I say.
As if to start over, I ask, “My name is Mia. What is your name?” “Mohammed.” “I am sorry this happened, Mohammed.” “Me too,” he says.
We both hugged, apologizing to each other. These are turbulent times for our world. “I don’t want to add to the darkness,” I tell him. “Me too,” he says.
We hugged again. Both crying. “Keep your son safe,” I say. “Thank you. You stay safe too.”
One last time, we both apologized, hugged, shook hands and parted ways.
Mia Tagano is a vocal coach, actor and ServiceSpace volunteer based in the Bay Area. She’s toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in scores of stage productions in the United States. Her dedication towards her 96-year-old grandmother has touched many across the world. Read more about her inspiring journey here.