So I had a lesson in perspective recently while driving to work one morning. The lesson revolved around judgement. How we judge others and certain situations to be more precise.
Once I moved past the eureka moment of this lesson, I became a little squirmy with myself.
I had to look in the proverbial mirror, gaze at my reflection while looking myself dead in the eye and call myself judgmental.
Realistically I should not have been surprised, but I felt so justified and convicted that there was no way I was judgmental of others. After all, I've written about racism, segregation, interracial relationships. I've opened my door, literally and metaphorically to everyone. I call myself a Christian for goodness sake. Me? Judgmental?
Yes me. And you are too.
We might judge different things, but judge we do. Probably more than we think.
I want to tell you about something that happened that made me admit to myself that I am more judgmental that I cared to acknowledge.
I love my ride to and from work. It's a little long, but not too much. It's hilly, curvy and colorfully picturesque. I either gear myself up for the day and wind down, depending on which way I'm headed. I meditate, I pray, I rock out with great music, whatever the mood dictates. It's a special time of day that belongs to just me and I choose to make it mine twice a day.....until......
Some loser, inconsiderate, self important, careless jerk decides to tailgate me. Me, who is not driving too slow and is minding my own business.
Almost nothing gets on my soap box more than a tailgater. If I can't see pavement between your vehicle and mine, then you are tailgating me. If I can't see your headlights in my rear view mirror, you have invaded my personal space and now we have an issue. This almost cheers me up a little, because now I get to break check you. I love to see the expression on your face when you have hit your brakes a little too hard and grab the steering wheel with both hands. Serves you right your arrogant, self absorbed, complete disregard-er of human life.
You get the picture.
So anyway one beautiful, clear, crisp, North Carolina Blue Sky, kind of morning I am on my way bright and early to work. I am completely loving the start to my day. Until.....
Here she comes, right up on my bumper. Trying to push me. Out of her "must be running late for something or another and no one else matters" kind of way. Oh no she didn't!
Yes she did.
And this one is persistent. She has someone in the car with her. And they are yapping away. Not happy. Clearly agitated. And I'm convinced it's about me.....driving the speed limit.
So just about the time I am ready to give this nice woman a "check of reality", I came around a curve and noticed way up ahead a chaotic array of fire trucks, sheriffs vehicles complete with lights and flashers going alerting us of danger. In the middle of the chaos is a wrecker beginning to harness a very crushed and dented, how did anyone survive this, VW Bug.
I take this in from quite a distance while slowing down to patiently and respectfully wait my turn to be waved through this tragedy by a dutiful deputy. I glanced in my mirror, certain this situation would slow my offensive tailgater down, but no. While seemingly impossible, she was now even closer to my vulnerable bumper and relentlessly pushing me. Much to my amazement, while I have moved to my left to be guided past the accident, she is now beside me on my right and speeding up.
What??? This crazy person is going to try to pass me here? At this exact second, it's my turn to move past the crushed vehicle and my attention is diverted from my persistent and dangerous tailgater. Once clear of the accident, I look into my mirror again to realize in horror, my tailgater has left her vehicle along with her passenger and is running full speed towards the crushed vehicle.
I felt a little sick to my stomach. At myself. I felt a lump in my throat for this poor woman and her companion. I don't know who she was trying so hard to get to. I don't if they were hurt or worse.
What I do know is that I judged her. And in my mind called her behavior ugly. I was so convinced that she was inconsiderately and selfishly gunning her way down that beautiful country road that day, off to some frivolous activity. Instead she was trying everything in her power to get to what appeared to be a loved one.
I could not have been more wrong.
And I was self righteously going to brake check her. Willfully keeping her from what appeared to be a loved one in dire need.
I didn't like my behavior too much that day. I still don't. And somehow I would love to apologize to her and ask her if everyone involved is okay.
I'm not too sure how I will handle the inevitable future tailgaters I am destined to meet in my journeys. It's probably safe to say a good number of them are, indeed, inconsiderate jerks.
But what I think I do know is this. Everybody has a story. And like a book, we can't just look quickly at the cover and grasp what all the chapters inside reveal.
I hope in the future I give heed and the benefit of the doubt to all of life's jerks. It will be a challenge and I suppose at times I will epically fail. But I do know that I don't ever want to be in someone's way like that again.
What about you? What do you think?