Behind The Wheel it's the Little Things


This morning I dropped my son off at school (or a block away from school because the drop off at the high school can get really congested) and headed back home to start my day.  I headed home to start my day and when I turned on my block I had to stop because there was an SUV turning around.

Or should I say attempting to turn.  It was a larger SUV and I could tell the driver was a small woman.  So it took a couple of back and forths for her to get it to where she wanted it to go, which was in front of a neighbor's house.  I realized that the person behind the wheel was a high school senior and she was picking up her girlfriend, who came bounding of her house with a big smile on her face.  All of this brought a smile to my face (and my heart) too.

Can you remember when you first got your driver's license?  When it was such a big deal and exciting moment to get behind the wheel and go?  For me, taking my son to school was a chore.  For these two young ladies it was a joy.  That ten minute drive was an adventure.  The drive represented a new freedom for both driver and passenger.  They had something in that drive that I had lost and maybe need to find again.

Getting behind the wheel is a privilege and a responsibility.  It IS a big deal; especially to those who have just gotten that privilege.  Think about that when you are sitting behind a car at a traffic light waiting for it to turn from green to red.  You don't know who is behind that wheel; it could be someone who has been driving for decades or it could be someone who has just gotten their license.  You don't know if this is a hum drum drive, a terrifying new challenge or an exciting new adventure. 

When you are out on the road, get out of your own head for a second.  Yes, most of the time we are hurrying to get somewhere.  We are anxious to get to our destination.  Maybe we are running late.  STOP.  You are not the only person on the road.  (Okay it IS possible to be the only person on the road, but that is rare!)  Take a minute to NOT focus on you, but on the person in front of you (or beside you.)  Are they a new driver, excited or anxious?  Are they an older adult, cautious and slower?  Be kind.  There is no need to honk or use a hand gesture.  Remember the time when you were just learning; know that there might be a time when you will be older and more cautious.

Driving can be more than just getting from place to place.  For some it is an adventure.  For some it is a period of calm. Don't be selfish.  Don't ruin (or make worse) the experience.  Get out of your own head and into someone else's shoes, even if it is just for a second.

I think back to earlier this morning.  It was cold.  I could have been a jerk and honked my horn as the person in the big SUV turned around.  I could have gotten home 10 seconds faster.  But I didn't.  And I'm glad.  Since I didn't I got to see the joy of two friends heading off to school together; happy (even at the early hour) at what the day might bring.  It was a little thing, but it was an important moment of reflection for me.  It could be for you too.

Does this mean I won’t be a jerk behind the wheel ever again?  Probably not, but I’m going to try to be a more thoughtful driver when I slide behind the wheel.  Maybe we all should give that a try.


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