To The Woman Who Honked At Me Today In The Mall Parking Lot:
I know I was driving slowly, because, well, we were circling a mall parking lot. But I grant I was probably slower than average. You clearly had somewhere to be, as you honked, glared, and swerved around me and the kiddo. I hope you got wherever you needed to be on time.
I know I’m slow. That’s because, after getting rear-ended a few months ago ―with my child in the car ― I’m a wreck. It takes incredible effort just to leave the house, drive down the street, and walk through the mall telling myself, “You’re fine, he’s fine” before getting back in the car, driving home, and circling my kitchen island to the same mantra.
My driving anxiety is nothing new. It’s been there since the first day behind the wheel, or really, two years before my first day behind the wheel, because I was sufficiently terrified of driving to wait until almost age 18 to take a driver’s test.
That anxiety is the thing I hate the most about myself, more than my post-baby body, more than my sleep-deprived face, more than my growing collection of high elastic waistbands. I would love to be back in a city where I never have to drive, where you and I would just be ignoring each other on a subway. But here I am. And there you were, making me feel pathetic and useless.
But I’m also proud of myself today. I tried on new clothes even when my son took off all his old ones in a Banana Republic fitting room. With an assist from a sympathetic barista, I averted a meltdown over a dropped cake pop. I calmly carried a screaming 3-year-old down an escalator and out of the mall after he bit me for suggesting we leave the train table I had been ambushed by at yet another store that should not have a train table.
I spent my entire morning oozing patience, through the un-dressing room, the cake pop near-incident, the toy store tantrum, and now, a quickly devolving nap time. I survived a stroller-less 90 minute trip through the mall. I can handle driving.
But you know what would have made the whole day so much easier? Your patience.
It’s unlikely you’re reading this. Those who are reading are likely anxious drivers like me. But maybe you are reading. Maybe I’ve gone viral and the friend you told about that slow mom at the mall today has tagged you here.
If you’ve had the patience to read all of this, I know you have it in you to pause and think of the driver in front of you as a human being who deserves your patience. Yes, that human being may need a friendly tap on the horn. But laying on, glaring, and mouthing obscenities at 10:30 AM in a mall parking lot? That’s not helping her, or you, or the 3-year old who heard you through the open window.
So to you, and all the other people struggling with impatience today, I ask you to do what I do: Just count to 5. Those five seconds will resolve a surprising number of problems.