Something unusual happened to me this morning during my drive to work. Someone cut me off.
Now that wasn’t the unusual part. Some self important dingbat whose exigent occupation demands he is the lead sheep in the morning commute will cut me off every other morning, and he usually does it with a cell phone in one hand and a Tim Horton’s coffee in the other.
This morning was different because the twat who cut me off had neither a cell phone nor a cigarette, nor was she doing her make up: she just made a mistake. A mistake that had me slamming on the breaks and swerving into oncoming traffic (the clearer lane than the one to my right) to avoid a collision. Once I had had set the car to rights, I continued onward, shaking with anger and adrenalin, and cursing the little silver car now ahead of me on my right side. I could see the lights ahead turning red and a realized in seconds I would be right beside my reckless road mate.
I rolled down the passenger side window, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to say, but you can be sure it was going to be peppery, and spiteful, and righteous and…
She rolled down her window, (the NERVE!) and said:
“I am sorry I cut you off, my mind was somewhere else” She shrugged. She was red faced, and was waiting for my response.
And I was slack jawed.
Cut off at the knees.
My anger had nowhere to go.
“Uh, Ok thanks.”
What else could I say? This was so unlike other encounters I had with drivers who through carelessness or error had almost caused an accident. Usually it went down like this: I bang my horn at them, they give me the finger. That is best case scenario. Worst case: they yell at me because I have the audacity to be pissed about being bullied by a 3000 pound vehicle with 200 pound of asshole at the wheel.
And then I thought about how much time I would spend stewing over said example asshole’s transgression. You can multiply my stewing by a factor of 1000 if my son was in the car at the time. The rest of my drive becomes a tense, nervous exercise, with me silently cussing the whole drive until I arrived at my destination; where the first person who could fog a mirror would be assaulted by the entire story. How much easier would the drive and the rest of my day be if the offenders put their hands up and said sorry?
She did, and in an instant changed how I viewed the situation and my reaction to it. She completely diffused my anger and instead engendered empathy. I saw her in terms of my life. She was probably tired, rushed, thinking about paying bills, worrying about work, children, maybe wondering about a sick parent. Who was I to say?
We all get busy. We all get a little self important. And we all screw up.
But oh how few of us own up.
Thank-you lady in the silver car. Drive safe.