Sunday, February 7, 2010

#86 Miss Daisy Does Not Drive My Car

I drive the way I live. Perhaps it's not the best way to live, or for that matter drive, but this is how it is for me. I expect people to do what they are supposed to do, ie stop at the red light, send a thank you note, yield at the yield sign, don't cut in line, etc. As I tell my kids, though, expecting something doesn't mean it will always happen, and so we need to be prepared.

I tell them to wear their seat belts and to bring an umbrella when it looks like rain. Being prepared and ready in both scenarios is smart and safe. However, being prepared doesn't mean being scared. I don't live or drive on the defensive, but I'm not a bully either. My foot may come off the accelerator when traffic patterns change, but it doesn't mean that I automatically break.... I hover. I wait and see. I am cautiously watchful in and out of the car. I keep on moving and doing what is expected, but with my eyes open -- always ready and alert, but not constantly worried. As in driving, like life, when I see an opening I take it. And as my friends and family will attest, there isn't too much hesitation in my personality on or off the road.

I sometimes get impatient and pass a car or honk when someone isn't doing what they are supposed to do. As long as you are polite and not hurtful, I think it's fine. When I drive, I am constantly aware of my surroundings. The same goes when I am walking alone. This is what I teach my kids, be prepared, don't be scared. In the same vein, if my car goes out of control on an icy patch, I don't panic. I slowly turn the wheel into the skid and gently apply my brakes. When life feels out of my control, I don't panic or "lose it" either. I deal. When I hurt myself or feel sick, I take care of me and try not to let things escalate. Same with my car. I don't wait until the problem is unmanageable.

On the other hand, my love life has been lived more as Speed Racer than Driving Miss Daisy. There was no speed limit as far as I was concerned, and more times than not, I ran the yellow instead of slowing down. Only in emergency situations did I ever apply the brakes. I have wished on many occasions that I had used my brights to get a better look at some of the lemons I dated. I've had many scrapes, dents and knocks, but thank goodness, no crashes. When I drive, I make sure that my seat is comfortable and that I am comfortable. I can't say that about all my relationships. On a few occasions, I should have just stepped away from the "car" when I had the chance, but in the game of love, sometimes that left turn is just too tempting. When I met Marc and we started dating, it was like driving on a nice new road - no bumps or pot holes.

And so, I have learned lessons in life that help me drive and lessons driving that help in life. When my kids were toddlers, we drove to the airport to pick up my parents. Unbeknownst to me, the airport had just gone through a major renovation and I wasn't sure where the short term parking was. It was also nighttime, which made it even more difficult. As I was driving slowly and tapping my brakes, a truck pulled up behind me and started to ride my rump. After a few more minutes, I decided to forget short term parking and just drive around. I followed the sign that said "turnaround back to airport". It was at this moment that life and driving lessons came together. The truck driver was so impatient at this point that he pulled out from behind me into the right lane, sped past me, and tried to make the light as it turned yellow. A car jumped their green light going the other way and the trucker had to slam on his brakes. It was a very close call. When I pull up next to him, I opened my passenger window. He opened his and I could tell that he was about to yell at me. I was quicker. I told him that I was sorry for driving so slowly, but that it was my first time at the renovated airport and I was having trouble locating the short term parking. I watched his whole personality change before my eyes. He listened to what I said and very nicely told me that I needed to follow the road ahead back to the airport, and then took the time tell me where the parking entrance was. I waved, said thank you, and apologized again. He told me not to worry and to have a good time with my parents, and then, to my surprise he waved me in front of him.

Be nice and don't pick fights... on and off the road.

Quote of the Day: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life we have waiting for us" Joseph Campbell


Michael Rivers said...

Being nice is so very important. The energy created around that is amazing. People remember it. Great post!

Jeanie said...

Nice definately does go a lot farther than mean in changing someone's attitude. I have slowed and rolled my window down a few time and apologized when I have done something wrong driving and it does change the other driver's behavior.

Anonymous said...

That is a terrific story and a wonderful life lesson. I will pass it on to my kids and my husband!

Ellen said...

I've done the same as Jeanie, and it's always a good feeling when the other driver responds positively.