The luxury car weaving wildly through traffic, without using a turn signal, just cut me off. While I slam on the brakes, he is looking in his rearview mirror, without apology, to either see if I am mad or just check me out. I am grinding my teeth, trying desperately to hold in the tsunami of expletives and gripping the steering wheel so that my twitching trigger finger does not rise.
“Take a deep breath. His punishment is that he has to be him for the rest of his life,” I say to myself.
I glance in my mirror to see my smiling daughter talking to her bear. The world is mine again.
I think back to my first driving lesson. Not the one when I was 16 and I almost hit that fruit stand. Instead, I’m remembering a time when I was about 5, in the back seat of my dad’s car. A similar situation faced us, but the subsequent reaction was a sort of suburban vengeance. We screeched around the offender’s car and cut him off at a dangerous distance all while my dad flipped the bird. The look of satisfaction on his face was my lesson. Until I had Stella, I might have been tempted to react in a similar fashion. I mean seriously, how satisfying is it to “teach someone a lesson?”
…But does it really? Is the world a better place now? Doubtful.
So here is my New Year’s resolution: I am going to drive like the person I want to be.
Maybe you are how you drive. The luxury car jerk is either an entitled sadist or oblivious to how he disrupts the world, only to get to the light at the same time as the rest of us. That lady in the SUV who breezed through that stop sign and pretends not to see that old man crossing the street with his dog: perhaps a narcissist. She doesn’t have time to wait for a neighbor, but cares enough about what he thinks to stare straight ahead as if she didn’t see him. She did. Then finally, a young girl in a beat-up two-door, slows down and waves me into her lane. Polite and considerate, her little gesture did make my world a better place.
How amazing would the roads and the world be if everyone let you into their lane when you needed to get over? What if a turn signal wasn’t considered an act of aggression? What if we all waited at crosswalks and waved in thanks when someone let us in front of them?
Since I can only control my little world, that is my resolution. I am going to teach my daughter to drive.