May the punishment fit the crime

My husband hides his mother’s chopping board in his sock drawer for safekeeping.

Soon after his mother’s death, this chopping board found it’s way into our house and we used it for a time until one day my husband realised, it was wearing away.

All those years of use, close to one hundred years, and he decided the board was past its use-by date, but needed preserving.

It’s been a ‘temporary’ resting place for the past ten years or so, at the bottom of the sock drawer until one day when we leave this place and my husband will most likely pass the board onto one or other of his daughters or grandchildren as an heirloom.

I hope they appreciate its significance.

All the loaves of bread that have been chopped on this board; all the onions sliced and diced, all the meat slivered.

Which brings me to another matter of less significance but a new understanding for me this week – at least it’s something I’d never really considered before though looking at it now, I’m amazed I have not.

The other day, my youngest daughter still at home, asked that we keep aside one chopping board to be used exclusively for the chopping of fruit. This way the watermelon does not get infused with the taste of onion.

An excellent idea and one we have now put in place.

And for more significant events this week, I went to post a letter one day, and pulled my car up at the edge of the red post box in a ‘no standing’ zone.

I know it’s against the law, but I had only intended to stop as long as it took to slip the letter into the box.

As I leapt out of my car, letter in hand, a man stopped at the lights in the middle lane on the road, and well clear of my car, which I’d parked alongside at the front of a long row of cars just before the traffic lights. He had his side windows down and called out to me.

‘You fuck head.’  He repeated this several times for good measure on the top of his lungs. ‘You fuck head. Can’t you read the sign?’

Of course I could.

I half apologised, ‘Only posting a letter,’ but he didn’t hear.

My fellow driver, of the shiny white ute, with tools poking out the back, seemed to have found an excellent opportunity to let off steam or get rid of whatever awful feelings assailed him by passing them onto me.

‘You fuck head,’ he repeated several more times and I had the urge to ask him, was he so pure. Had he never once stopped at a no standing zone for two minutes to drop off a child; post a letter; use his phone?

Had he never sinned?

But it was pointless, and the lights changed in the time it took him to hurtle more abuse, to drive off, and for me to post my letter.

I live not far from this letterbox and as I pulled into my driveway minutes later, I could still see his car in the distance ahead, stopped at the next set of lights and wondered whether he felt any better.

Certainly I felt worse. Bad feelings that come back to me even now as I write. Like someone has tipped a bucket of shit over my head.

But that’s the intention, isn’t it?

And I can’t really complain, can I? Because I broke the law.

All of which leads me to ponder the significance of discrimination.

Not all crimes and misdemeanours are the same, not all deserve to go to the chopping block.

From the safe bubble of his car, this man saw fit to pass judgement on me because I was in the wrong.

Or was it because I’m a woman? A soft target?

On the other hand, this man might be one of those obsessives who hate people who don’t abide by the law to the absolute letter.

Somehow I doubt this.

I suspect it’s more like the sight of me, choosing to do something so outrageous as to stop where I should not stop, infuriated him, and he became the self-righteous parent who feels better passing all his unwanted feelings onto the errant one.

Self righteous in his arrogance, while I cringed under the weight of his abuse.

Needless to say, I won’t park there again.