I live in Richmond, Virginia and the term “rush hour” traffic is not relevant to us like in other metropolitan areas such as DC, Atlanta and LA. If we get a ¼ mile back up we start to whine and cry. Traffic high points for us are from 7:00A to 8:30A and from 4:30P to 6:00P. Our two major corridors are I-95 and I-64 but 288 and 295 are quickly catching up. Hull Street, Midlothian Turnpike and West Broad Street are the major roads creating headaches of major proportions from the city to the suburbs. It takes ½ hour to move 5 miles down Hull Street during the “rush hour”. I call it the geriatric highway because you will inevitably get behind someone going slow when you are in a hurry. This happens on a daily basis.
I don’t take the highways or the toll roads to work to avoid traffic and accidents but it can take one geriatric driver to put my day into a tailspin. I know that God has a sense of humor and He flexes it in my life quite often in this arena. I can have the patience of Job one day but on others, blink and I’ll cut you off at the knees. So, given how late I try to sleep in and how quickly I can get out of the house I might get waylaid by the world of geriatric drivers and get to work feeling less than chipper and cheery and then its look out world. Seriously, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t take my traffic woes out on my colleagues but it does make for interesting conversations in my head all the while I’m smiling and inside I’m still seething about the fool that made me late or slowed down morning groove.
What really ticks me off is that I’m a good driver. A defensive driver and I go out of my way to stay away from the crazies but unfortunately I am outnumbered. They are talking on the phone, texting, eating or yes, ladies, putting on make-up. Now I am guilty of doing all of the above but not while driving, except the talking piece and I limit that or use the hands-free when possible. I put on my make-up when I am stopped at a light; texting is the same only when I am sitting still. Eating is limited when I’m driving so I don’t mess up my clothes but at the same time I can honestly say I am cognizant of what is going on around me. All around me; not just what is up ahead but beside and behind me as well. I’m not trying to get rear-ended by the fool too busy looking down to realize that I am sitting still at the light.
I drive in the right lane unless I need to pass someone and then of course I navigate my way to the passing lane and keep going. Once clear, I head back to the right. This is not the case with most drivers. They get in the lane and hog or should I say clog it up making it virtually impossible to maneuver around the geriatric drivers out there. It just doesn’t seem right to have cars in both lanes driving side by side with clear lanes in front of them and 2 miles of back up behind them because they are both meandering along oblivious to the fact that we are trying to get somewhere today, not next week. Now if road conditions or weather are a factor I totally understand but it could be a nice spring day and this happens.
And when it does I become like David Banner and turn into the Incredible Hulk. I huff, I puff, I scream, rant and rave (sometimes out loud, other times to myself) about the situation and then I hear it. This chuckling going on in my head because I know how irrational I am being and how much God must be getting a real kick out of slowing me down even if its just for a few short minutes because I won’t take the time myself and do it. It is during these moments when I am stuck behind someone that I actually pay attention to my surroundings and notice what changes are taking place in the neighborhoods I drive through on a daily basis and never seem to notice. Like the stores that have opened, closed, been repainted or repaired; the trees blooming, the blue sky and the feel of the sun and wind on my skin through the open sunroof. It is during these times that I speak to Him and say, “Hey you, I know what you’re doing and it’s working. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and check out the sights before they pass me by. Thanks for saving me from the truck that plowed through the red light at the intersection just ahead of me that could have been me if I hadn’t gotten caught behind a slow poke. I get it. Really I do, even if I’m not always appreciative at the time.”
And that makes my day a little better for that gift, that blessing until I jump in the car heading to my next destination and find myself caught behind…you guessed it, another slow poke.