20 years ago or so, when I was doing a lot of driving in traffic, I dreaded hitting the road. The thought of dealing with the over-abundance of drivers and vehicles caused tension, stress, and general feelings of dread. As you can imagine, I wasn’t enjoying the journey and its experiences. Who would? Drivers cutting you off, riding your bumper, refusing to let you over, or rushing to get in front of you just so they can drive… S l o w l y… Sooo Agonizingly S L O W …
I felt a particular disdain for the truck drivers. The trucks themselves were bad enough, practically sucking your car under it, blocking your view, and instilling utter fear of cataclysmic death as they sandwiched you between them and a concrete barrier. Then there were the truck drivers. The drivers were such bullies, pushing their way into your lane and forcing you off the road or into another driver’s lane. I had never experienced such bullies in my life!
One ordinary day, I was driving along happily (as happily as I could be while driving in traffic), when a trucker put on its blinker to get over. Oh no! No way! You’re not getting in front of me, Buddy. I sped up and victoriously pulled ahead of that big boy.
As I continued to drive, I noticed another trucker attempting to make his way from the farthest left lane all the way over to the right to exit. I also noticed that every driver did what I did. They didn’t let him over and sped up to be sure they were in front of him. I watched this happen over and over. That truck driver finally had no choice but to force his way over.
Something happened. A thought crept into my head. It was a compassionate thought telling me to look at that poor truck driver. No one will let him over. He is following all the rules and courtesies of the road and, still, no one will give him a simple courtesy and let him change lanes. How frustrating, tiring, and lonely for that driver whose home is the road. All-day, every mile, constant diligence and awareness to wrestle his way safely to his destination. Caring for his safety and others, not bullying and shoving people around, but carefully, firmly asserting his needs in a world that doesn’t recognize him or his purpose-driven requirements for successful transport of cargo (most likely, cargo that we take for granted daily in our personal lives). Yet, he is forced to fight for every inch of every mile. He has no choice but to do what the rest of us do and aggressively force his way into and across traffic so he can get where he needs to go.
My traffic life has never been the same. My travels are enjoyable, even and especially, when there is heavy traffic. I enjoy opportunities to ease the way and welcome truckers and other drivers to change lanes. I take pleasure in blessing with love and compassion a driver who cuts me off, feeling gratitude that I am not feeling as frazzled, pressured, or angry as they must be feeling. I see the anxiety and concentration of the too-slow driver who is unsure of his route and exits. I see grace: an abundance of opportunities to give a little hospitality and welcome on an often-hostile road.
Funny. The more grace I extend to others, the more pleasure and enjoyment I experience out on that old friendly road…