As every parent knows, you can spend a large chunk of your day in your car. Hours are spent driving to and from school, practices, dance class, music lessons, etc. For the most part, I really don’t mind, but the past few weeks have been an exception. Our little Southern town has been inundated with traffic. And this traffic has everyone acting crazy.
While en route from my husband’s office to pick B up from baseball, I drove out onto our main road that runs through the middle of downtown. A 60-something year old man in a black two-door convertible came speeding up behind us, screeching on his brakes—as if to say, “get out of my way.” Since two of my babies were in the car, I was more than willing to let him pass. I pulled into a little antique market for him to get around me, but instead of passing us—he pulled right up next to our van and motioned for me to roll my window down.
He yelled, in an unfamiliar accent, “Get off the (expletive) road you (expletive).”
To which I replied, “I’m not sure where you are from, but around here we exercise a little thing called patience.” He put his car in drive and sped off with his middle finger in the air.
Sister asked, “What’s that mean man doing with his finger, Mommy?” Not wanting my precious 7 year old to learn the crude meaning behind such a gesture, I tried to just breeze over it.
“It means he’d like for us to pray for him,” I replied.
A few days after this incident, yet another driver almost ran Sister, Willie J, and me down as we were crossing the street at the crosswalk. And as if it were our fault, we were (yet again) flipped the bird—to which Sister responded by immediately praying aloud for the poor little old lady.
Yesterday, I dropped B off at baseball and Sister off at tumbling. Then, I drove to get dinner and made the rounds to pick everyone back up. We started making our way home and a guy in an old, beat-up car began deliberately weaving behind our van—trying to encourage me to speed up or move. We were driving in traffic on a very congested two-lane road, and I had nowhere to pull over. In a moment of insanity, this guy illegally passed us and ran an on-coming car off the road—managing to squeeze between our van and the car in front. I slammed on my breaks.
Before I knew it, I was blaring on my horn yelling, “Does this idiot think I drive this mini van for the fun of it, I obviously have kids in here! How dare he drive like that around us! He better have some sort of an emergency!” I drove behind him reading all of his bumper stickers—Zombie Crossing, I Park Like An Idiot, If farting is an Art—then I must be Picasso. Then, he passed the car in front of him—yet again—bringing all lanes of traffic to a screeching halt.
“Look, Mom! He’s pulling into the Target parking lot!” B observed.
Without thinking, I whirled my car into Target and pulled up right beside the man. He got out of the car and was dressed in a red Sonic polo shirt and black pants. He looked to be in his late 20’s with dark hair, a 5-o’clock shadow and a beer belly.
I rolled down the windows of the van and hopped out. “Excuse me, sir. Do you mind if I ask why you are in such a hurry?”
He looked at me dumbfounded, “What?”
“I said, why are you in such a hurry?”
“Well, I just needed to run in Target to get my beer and cheese puffs. My friends are coming over to play Defcon 7 tonight.”
“Do you realize that you almost killed a dozen people driving like a maniac? I have my 3 kids in the van—which you illegally passed. Driving like that could have killed you, too—and for what? CHEESE PUFFS?” My entire body shook with adrenaline and fear. I paused and took a deep breath—trying to gain a smidge of compassion.
“Please,” I begged. “In the future, don’t risk people’s lives for a lousy grocery run. It’s just not worth it.” I turned to get in my van, not thinking he’d respond.
“Thank you for calling me out on my driving. I guess I wasn’t really thinking about how I was affecting others. Sorry.” As he turned towards his car, I was shocked at the difference in his demeanor. My kids were all chattering…”Mom, that was awesome!” I smiled, proud of the outcome.
I got in the van and spun it around in the parking lot to turn back towards the exit. As I did, my new friend stood in my path with his legs stretched and two fists in the air with middle fingers blazing.
“Awe, look mommy. He wants us to pray for him,” Sister observed. As I maneuvered the car around him, I gave him “the stank eye,” but as I did—a look of shock covered his face.
“We will pray for you and you can pray for us!” Sister innocently yelled out the window, while mimicking the gesture back to the man.