Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's A Small World

My son is taking driver's ed right now so I am more aware of my own driving habits.  I'm also keenly aware of how many jerks are on the road.  This morning I noticed myself sliding through a stop sign (on a vacant side street) and twinged, knowing that my son was watching me.  Later, I waited to turn left as a group of 30 students finished crossing the street.  I was surprised when a car honked at me, urging me to move, even though the large group of students was clearly visible.  I was stunned when the same driver passed me, driving in the lanes for oncoming traffic and then inched their SUV within a foot of the student pedestrians.  I was outraged as I watched this impatient, rude, and unsafe PARENT drop of her own student in front of the school.

Globe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I watched a TV sitcom once which played out a very funny version of this story.  The driver does some impossibly obnoxious and insane thing from behind the wheel, gets honked at by the other driver, and then proceeds to flip off the offended party.  In TV land, the uber nasty driver goes to the parent-teacher conference or the job interview or whatever, to of course face the very individual whom they have just presented the "bird".  I frequently keep that little image in my head.  What if the person who I'm so annoyed with, was my neighbor?  My son's English teacher?  A coworker?  What if I had to face this person later in the day in a conversation or ask for their help on a project? 

Would you behave differently if you were going to have to answer for your behavior or words later in the day?  Alone in our cars or behind our computer screens we can forget about common decency, patience, civility, or empathy.  Interacting with clerks at the store or receptionists at the doctor's office it's the same thing.  Would you offer more respect and courtesy if you knew you were looking at the mom of  your child's new best friend?  We can be lured into thinking that it's all about us and our needs, our schedule, our emergencies.  It's not.  The parent that honked and then cut me off and sped ahead within inches of the student crosswalk, arrived in front of the school exactly 5 seconds ahead of me.  In those 5 seconds, she managed to scare and upset another driver, intimidate 30 students, and educate her child about how little other people are to be considered or respected.  Her world was very small indeed, it consisted of exactly one person.

I'm looking forward to my son's driving education.  It will be stressful for sure.  I also know that  it's going to help me refocus on what's important and require me to practice what I'm preaching to him.  Common decency, patience, civility, and empathy are all qualities that I need more of and that I want to offer to others - including the mystery driver who cut me off.
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  1. Good lessons for us all. Though I have to admit - when a cabby honked at us for not moving the very second the light turned green, not just one time, but at two separate lights - I was secretly really happy when JG blocked the way on the one way street so the said cabby couldn't pass us.

  2. Sometimes there is a need to provide Karma lessons...