On a typical weekday morning all sanity vacates the premises. Ironically, most mornings start out quietly peaceful. There’s morning quiet time with coffee and my bible, more coffee while I put together our lunches, and then Willa Bear and I go wake up the little person, who usually wakes up pretty happily, despite being licked to death by a Schnoodle.
I’m not quite sure where it all goes wrong, but I inevitably find myself with only twenty minutes to jump in the shower, get dressed and be out the door. I’m slightly concerned that my daughter might think it’s normal to have a crazy, multiple bag wielding momma frantically herding her into the car, while shouting “hurry, quickly, jump in, I’m late, we gotta move, etc.,” but I tell myself it could be worse.
My daily nemesis is the left turn stoplight standing between my little one’s preschool and the high school where I teach. I’m not going to lie, things gets messy and morally questionable when you’ve got a left turn lane backed up one light before yours, while the adjacent lane is wide open for cars to bypass the line and merge into the left lane ahead. Now, I have let many a driver merge in front of me, as I know that there have been and that there will be many times that I need to be let in as well. This morning was one of those times. As the light turned green and we all began moving forward, a space the length of two cars opened up between vehicles. I got myself about two-thirds of the way over, when another woman put the pedal to the metal to zoom up, not just behind me, but beside me. Since we were window to window in basically the same lane, I looked over to see a lady gripping her steering wheel, and staring me down with cheeks sucked in and lips pouting out. There was no selfie-stick involved, so I’m assuming she wasn’t trying to be sexy. She made her point though. If I hadn’t completely come to a standstill so she could zoom around me, she would have plowed right into me. A car accident would have been more acceptable than letting me fill that space, her space.
When did we become so afraid of letting people into our space, of giving people grace, or of putting others ahead of ourselves? We get so caught up in making sure we get what’s ours and of not being taking advantage of that our behavior becomes spiteful. A few months ago I accidentally started to change lanes without realizing another car was in my blind spot. I immediately moved back over and gave an “I’m sorry” wave to the driver, to which I received the middle finger and what were clearly choice words hurled at me. It’s embarrassing to admit, but y’all, I cried. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t hear what this complete stranger was shouting, that I would never see her again, or that the entire situation was ludicrous. The physical barrier of her car did not insulate her road rage from me, but just provided her a false sense of invincibility. Haven’t we all been there though, yelling inside of our car because it’s not really yelling at someone else? I know I have.
With immigration reform being a key talking point of this election season, we hear quite a bit of rhetoric about building walls. Walls that will protect our jobs. Wall that will provide security. Walls that we will force immigrants to build and pay for themselves. Walls that will insulate us. I can’t help but feel we are a generation of walls already. We seem numb to the effects our words and actions have upon others. Heinous comments abound on social media, where we give ourselves permission to write things we shouldn’t even whisper to ourselves in a dark, sound proof safe room. We are so isolated from one another, while staying connected through filters and hashtags. Don’t get me wrong, I love the filters and I love the hashtags, but I worry that we are losing the ability to reach out and listen, to consider one another’s perspectives, to personally empathize with those who are different from us in a meaningful way that goes beyond the click of a “like” plugin.
These thoughts were running through my head as I was driving home from work, only to see a man in a truck in front of me roll his window down to vehemently give the middle finger to a woman in an SUV. I wondered if it’s isolation from each other that drives us to so flippantly hurt each other. I wondered if it’s what feeds the fear and anger that conjures an unfathomable amount of support for a man who carelessly denigrates women and entire races of people from the most visible, respected, and public platform of our country. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that asking these questions is making me take a long hard look at myself and the way I interact with and react to people and circumstances.
There were many beautiful stories today as well. I loved seeing how many people were passionate about getting out and voting in the primaries. It was uplifting to see my newsfeed filled with “I Voted” pictures. There was the lovely driver who stopped, even though he had a green light, to let my little love and I cross the street so we didn’t have to stop running. There were the people, who one by one during rush hour traffic, would pause to let in cars that were trying to exit the H.E.B parking lot, reminding me to stop and let others in as well. In many aspects of my life it is so tempting to speed up, when I should really be slowing down. With that in mind, I’m going to set my alarm earlier tomorrow morning, in the hopes that a little extra time is all my little person and I need to slow down and avoid spasmodically racing to the car, which will in turn hopefully make the length of time it takes to wait through the long left turn lanes irrelevant. Wish us luck.