I was a bit late and obviously they weren't. Not "I need to run your butt off the road late" but annoying late. 7.5 miles under the speed limit, they putt-putted on the single lane, no passing road oblivious to my urgency. They must be drunk, or old of gasp... both! Side to side they drifted, never quite leaving the lane but being anything but in the middle. Stupid Sunday driver. Maybe it was a kid... texting I'll bet. I couldn't quite see their snippet of life through their rear window. It was obvious they weren't looking in their mirror or they would have known. I should flash my lights or beep my horn! Dagnabit! The road widened I breathed a hallelujah as I roared up next to them ready with a withering glare. It was a middle-ageish woman. Her hair was a mess and her face was reddened from tears. In a moment, our eyes met for a moment and she managed a weak smile. I withered back into my seat hoping to be invisible. She never really saw at me, lost in her own unknown sorrow. My own empathy caused me to well-up for a moment. My own angst somehow not as important anymore. The light changed and off we went back on the road to stranger-land.
How often we forget that we are not the center of the world. We get lost in our lane and feel everyone should move as fast as we do. If they don't, they are just nincompoops or something worse. Our needs are way more important then their incompetence. We quickly judge them and want them to pull over, so we can get by horns a blaring.
But everyone is entitled to their space in their own lane. Everyone's road is different although at then end, we all end up racing towards the same destiny. The woman's tears could have been trivial or tragic, but who am I to judge. I imagined the impact of my rudeness if I had beeped or flipped her off. At best it would have confirmed her cynicism about human nature and at worse, sent her over the edge. How would waving with one finger help her go faster?
We tend to forget that most of the time the road sign says speed limit, not minimum. If we respect each others boundaries and wait for a passing lane, our emotional traffic would move much faster. sadly, we all have to go through our challenges at our own pace. No amount of prodding, encouraging or gesticulating will really speed it up. Of course, we should all use same driving rules, but as long as you're not a hazard and stay in your lane, you are entitled to your own piece of road. Left lane fast; right lane slow. And we all have to drive in the slow lane sometimes. That's why we have passing lanes and dotted lines.
The rest of the trip my mind wandered through her imagined pain. A little prayer or two lifted for her sorrow. I hope things got better for her; I've been there. In spite of all of my worry, I still made it in time.