Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Car Ahead

Articles on stress reduction often present this scenario: You're driving to work and someone is tailgating you. Instead of getting angry, imagine that the fast driver is late for an important job interview or his wife is about to have a baby.
For me, the opposite is true. I am the impatient driver; for me the story has to explain why the car ahead of me is going so slowly. Maybe it's a newly licensed driver on her own for the first time, I tell myself. Or an old man, clinging to his license because it gives him the freedom to live on his own.
This morning, I had a chance to study the slow driver when I pulled up next to him at a light. He was a middle aged guy wearing a loud print shirt. Next to him was a prim older lady. As soon as I saw them, I had my explanation. He was taking her to Fairfax Hospital for outpatient surgery. She was nervous, so he was driving way below the speed limit. Suddenly my impatience was beside the point. I was embarking on a normal day; for them, this day might change their lives forever. Of course, for all I know they may have been dashing out for a gallon of milk. But it doesn't matter. I drove more slowly after that.


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