• Robert Saucedo

I'm the guy who squirted mustard on your jeep

One night, a few years ago, I broke the law. I vandalized somebody else's personal property. I squirted mustard on a jeep.

I'm not sure what I could ever say to justify my actions but, to try and help you understand what caused me to commit such a craven act of destruction, you need to know that I had a very good excuse. The best kind of excuse. I was tired.

I had put in a solid ten hours at the office that day before heading to the theater to host an event, another two hours' worth of work. It had been a long day and I was tired and beyond ready to lay in bed and surf eBay while struggling to actually fall asleep. But things would not come so easily for me that night.

The first issue arose when I approached my apartment and realized I had left that morning without the magnetic card allowing me access through the front gate. Without the card, I couldn't get into the complex, let alone inside my home. So, denied the promise of a warm bed for that much longer, I waited outside the gate, hoping that somebody would drive through and I could follow them inside. Twenty minutes I waited - without a jacket and without much to do but scan Twitter. I could feel my anger building.

As the clock ticked past midnight and the morning got ever so nearer, I finally received a slice of luck when I spotted the headlights of a car approaching the gate. As it pulled into the complex, I knew I wouldn't be quick enough to start my own car and drive through in time, so I quickly locked my vehicle and ran through the gate before it closed. I looked like a total prowler - but it didn't matter. I was just happy to finally be out of the cold as I walked the short distance to my front door, spring thoroughly in step. I let myself inside, grabbed the magnetic key card, and walked back out the front gate to grab my car and park it in its assigned spot. It had been a rough night but a plan had finally come together.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until I had driven the car inside the complex that I discovered that my assigned parking spot had been taken. By a jeep. By a brand new jeep with a dreamcatcher hanging from the dashboard mirror. I could only hope that this tchotchke would catch my own dreams as they shattered. My dreams of having my car safely secured behind a gate - a gate I paid for with my rent money! My dreams of salvaging this annoyingly cumbersome evening. My dreams of pajamas and warm sheets. My dreams of not having to see a jeep parked in my spot. a stupid little dreamcatcher hanging from its stupid little dashboard mirror!

I was pissed.

I was beyond pissed.

I stood there, anger rising in my core, and flashed back to the times in college when my roommates and I would deal with people who parked in our assigned spots. We were judge, jury and executioner - mercilessly towing any car that dared park in the two assigned spots we had been allocated for our duplex. Well, not always towing. We would only tow cars when we were feeling uninspired. Most times, we were a bit more creative.

One time we urinated on their door handles.

OK, maybe creative wasn't the right word.

I also had a collection of black and white headshots I had stolen from the entertainment desk at the student newspaper I worked on. There were quite a few people who parked in our spot that, when they came back from their party or whatever, found a glossy photo of Hootie and the Blowfish or Pat Green autographed with a message that read "Good luck with your break lines."

It had been nearly ten years since those hellion days, though. Surely, I had grown as an adult and could overlook one indiscretion. I was mature, a responsible member of society that had learned to turn the other cheek.

Nope. I was still a vengeful little bitch.

Here's the thing, though. It was late and I didn't want to mess with calling a tow truck. Instead, I just used my phone to Google "How to fuck with people who steal your parking spot." As I scanned through a few Reddit threads and Buzzfeed lists, I considered my options. Most online sources advised just ignoring the infraction or, at the very most, writing a short note to let the person know they had parked in the wrong spot. People appreciate being politely told when they've made a mistake. Goddamnit! Who knew hippies and peaceniks had such an active presence on the internet. I had no intention in forgiving and forgetting! Karma works both ways!

Instead, I ignored the advice and continued to stoke the fires of my righteous indignation. I stoked those fires ever so higher. Well, only so high - it was, after all, late and I didn't want to spend a ton of time on revenge.

Eventually, I settled on squiring a dollop of mustard on the bumper of their jeep. Not the most creative "gotcha," I know, but it was late and I only had two things in my fridge - oranges and mustard. I considered the oranges but Google informed me that citrus could actually be good for your car's paint job. Fuck that shit - mustard it was.

The next day the jeep had moved down a few spots to park in a different space in the lot. The mustard was still there - the driver hadn't even noticed the glob of yellow destruction I had left in my wake. Shit...

As I stood there, looking at the mustard, I felt bad about what I had done. I was thirty years old but still filled with a desire for petty revenge and delinquency. What would my parents think?

It has now been five years since my crime spree. I've learned to control my anger and, when somebody parks in my spot, I usually just consider the fact that I can always use the exercise that comes with parking a little further away from my front door. That said, sometimes I still wonder if I'm the same guy who not only celebrates schadenfreude but seeks it out as a nightly ritual before I go to bed. Do I still thrive on the misery of those who wronged others? Who wrong me? Am I, at heart, still a petty, mustard-squirting wannabe Batman?

I don't know - why don't you test me and find out?

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