The girls, the baby and I hustled into the car this morning and were on our way – a mere five minutes behind schedule. Phew! We drove along on a double lined single lane road discussing T-Ball and whether or not the girls wanted to play this spring. Up ahead a garbage truck was blocking the opposite side of the street. The cars from behind the truck were making their way around it so I slowed down and stopped to let them pass. After the fourth car had passed it was my turn to proceed forward. As I began to pass the parked truck a fancy car pulled out around the 4 cars stopped behind the truck waiting their turn to pass. As he sped towards me on MY side of the road I thought, “No way is this guy going to pull this off! How dare he try to cut all those other people off. How dare he try to cut me off?!?” As he pulled up beside the garbage truck and was blocked by my car I saw the train pass hanging from his front mirror and knew he was desperately trying to catch that 7:53am.
And there we were in a “standoff”, neither one of us willing to back down. He waved for me to back up. I threw my hands up in the air and indicated I wasn’t going to budge. At this point the driver of the garbage truck climbed into his seat, opened his window and called down to me, “I can’t believe that guy just did that! You stay right where you are. Some nerve…” After another 30 seconds the garbage truck pulled away and the cars behind him quickly pulled forward so the “rude driver” couldn’t get back on his side of the street before them. He still refused to back up and our front bumpers were almost touching so he couldn’t get around me and back into his proper lane. I felt my point had been proven so I slowly edged backwards and gave him the space he needed to get into his own lane and drive away. As he sped past me I put my window down and screamed, “That is dangerous driving!” I am pretty sure he missed his train.
“I showed him!” I thought as I drove away. We then continued our talk about T-Ball. It wasn’t until I was on my way back from drop off with the baby sleeping soundly in his car seat behind me that I thought about how I could have handled the situation differently. Yes the guy did something dangerous. And yes he put his needs this morning before the needs of everyone else’s. BUT at the end of the day I really don’t and will never know what he was going through that made him act that way. What prompted him to drive so desperately that he was willing to risk an accident or injury to another or himself?!? Maybe his kid puked on him on the way out the door and he had to run back in and change his clothes and that’s why he was late. Maybe his wife yelled at him as he passed her by on the way to his car because he had “yet again left another sink full of dirty dishes for her to wash” the night before and that argument was on his mind. Or maybe he was headed to the biggest meeting of his year and if he missed that train there would be consequences to pay. Or maybe he is just a grumpy guy that’s always late and tries to cut people off to make up for it. Who knows? Does it really matter either way? Nope. His bad behavior led to my bad behavior and that’s not ok.
Next time around perhaps I should be the one who backs up first. Be the one who says, “Poor guy, he must have been really late for something important to act that way.” If my kids are late it’s not the end of the world. I want them to see me make my way through life with grace and patience. Throwing my hands up in the air and muttering about how rude another driver is is not the way I want to start our day. (Thank God I gave up swearing for Lent because this story might have been much more colorful if I hadn’t been conscious of the words I chose to use this morning.) Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want them to be excuse makers. I don’t want them to continually “turn the other cheek”, but I do want them to realize that when it is a small unimportant choice they are making it is always better to choose the high road. (Pun intended.)
Tomorrow morning I will slow down, back down, and remember that we are all battling something when we wake up each day. I’d like to be the one who smiles gracefully through the battle and maybe makes that moment a little easier for the guy struggling on the other side of the street.