I had a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year's Eve and hope you all had similar if not better experiences. One of my resolutions this year is to seek out stupidity and call it out for all to see. My first installment in 2009 relays just such a stupid person.
While driving along in the Queen City last Friday evening I encountered a stupid person. I was driving along the I-275 beltway in Cincinnati approaching rush hour traffic in one of the interminable construction areas. Years ago I gave up driving fast in and around the city and have taken up the role of right lane slow driver. It is just easier and way less stressful, I recommend some of you with too much stress give it a try. Back to the story. I pulled into the left lane to pass some slower merging traffic which I went around in good time, but apparently I did not return to the right lane fast enough for the person behind me. This lady came along side and slowed, blew her horn and gave me the finger. Happy New Year to you I thought to myself. Oh well. Let it go, Cyndi. The woman moved on ahead of me.
At this point I had a great view of the back of her Toyota Prius. She had several bumper stickers that struck me as interesting and down right hilarious in retrospect. The one that caught my attention was a simple statement: Envision World Peace. Ironic that a woman who drives aggressively in her eco-green machine and flips people the bird, is interested in world peace don't you think? World Peace? How do you actually have world peace when people of different ethnic or religious or geographical demographics just don't like each other. Beyond reason or logic, it is just a visceral hatred. We can't even seem to love our neighbors here in the US.
The bumper continued to extoll its knowledge to those trailing in her dust. She had the Make Love Not War sticker. The Jan 20th End of an Error sticker - a big fan of Bush, not. An Obama 08 sticker was there.
As you all know when driving in traffic, you can swerve and pass all you want, in the end you never get very far. As it turned out, this peace loving road raged lady never got very far from me. In fact, the slow lane was moving a little faster and I ended up passing her. She actually swerved toward me as I drove past at all of 35 mph. I apparently had gotten under her skin rather badly with my correct driving. Let it go Cyndi.
The rest of the drive went rather uneventful and I arrived at my destination, a wonderful restaurant to celebrate a friends promotion within a local non profit organization (a charity). Amazingly, the lady in the Prius entered the parking lot right behind me. She was going to the same place! What a coincidence. Or wait....maybe she was really pissed at me and wanted to kick my butt! I didn't know which. She parked and went into the restaurant...it was just a coincidence. So I went in to meet my friend only to find the Prius woman sitting at the same table with an open seat on her left. Hugs and greetings for all of our friends. Pleasantries and introductions were exchanged for those who did not know everyone at the table. This is when I got to meet the Prius lady. She recognized me immediately. The look on her face was difficult to discern. Was she still angry at me? Was she embarrassed by her actions? Was she waiting for me to say something mean? Whatever it was, she was very uncomfortable. I only smiled and said it was nice to meet you. I took great pleasure in remaining cordial and nice to her all evening, I never let her know that I knew she was the lady who flipped me off only 20 minutes prior. She began to relax and the dinner and drinks came to a close. People were beginning to leave and the conversation died down. Eventually she and I were seperated from the others by a chair. So I turned to her and said, "So you are a peace advocate, huh? How do you expect to attain peace in the world when we don't even have peace in our own country?" The Prius lady was flustered and she stared at the table for a second or two. She looked me in the eye and apologized for her actions out on the roadway and I accepted it with no ill will. We continued our evening and she was really a nice person. She was smart and funny. She is devoted to Obama, which is okay by me, I respect that. We sparred back and forth over some of our political differences but ended the evening as friends. In parting I asked her what I did to warrant the rage on the road out there on the way to the restaurant, not trying to rub her nose in it but to truly understand what I did. She said I was just in her way, she was late for this meeting with her friend.
She apologized again and I told her not to worry about and thanked her for her honest answer.
Looking back I wonder how often we all get so wrapped up in ourselves that we begin to look at those neighbors around us as only hinderances to our own progress. I looked inside myself too. I admit I lose sight of the what is really important , too. I just hope I can keep reminding myself that the person in the next car is a person with a family, with desires and wants, with ideas and beliefs, and with hopes and dreams.
World peace? Let's start with peace in America first. It begins with each one of us living the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Stop the road rage, stop the bird flipping. Drive safely for your sake and that of your family. Respect each other. In the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other."
If she ever flips me off again, though, I am calling the cops!!