I was driving to work, one morning, feeling all caffeinated go-getter and ready to get on with it, when another driver who must’ve been feeling even more deadline driven and eager to get to work cut me off. Tempted to show off my perfectly manicured middle finger, I settled, instead, for muttering, “Asshole!” under my breath. I immediately remembered the day, many years earlier, when I’d done the same after a car nearly clipped me coming out of a parking lot and my daughter – her tender ears far too young to hear her mother utter such language, said, “Mom, you realize you just called my third grade teacher an asshole?”
I looked around and smiled sheepishly at the other drivers, checking to be sure none of them was having a moment of psychic clarity in which they’d overheard me.
In that moment, I realized something. Maybe not today, or tomorrow – but some day, and certainly on more than one occasion, I would be somebody else’s, “Asshole!” Fair enough. I try to remember that, when I catch myself angrily muttering about others in my impatience. Sure, they’re behaving like drunken cattle. Today. Right now. But in another hour or two, they may have their fingers inside someone’s chest cavity, jump starting a failing heart. Impatience is my cross to bear; it will, I’m convinced, lead me to put down deep roots and grow 47 arms on a windy hillside in my next life.
One morning, one of the ubiquitous wreckers that haunt the main road near my house cut in front of me to turn right – from the center lane. You can bet I cursed him, and regretted, later, that I’d been too stunned even to remember which company he was with, so I could report him for reckless driving. But last June, after being broadsided on that same road by a GMC Sierra, I was singing a different tune – all those “vultures,” as I’d occasionally thought of them – showed up en masse, gave me antibiotics and bandages for the teeny-tiny boo-boo on my elbow that wouldn’t stop bleeding, after flying glass from the passenger door rained on me sideways like a hurricane. They closed ranks around me when they thought the driver who hit me might be losing his cool. I admitted to them the uncharitable thoughts I’d had in the past, and thanked them for being there. They laughed. They know they’re assholes, sometimes, but they like helping people, too. They love their jobs.
So spare a kind thought or prayer for me, if you catch me muttering, “Asshole!” or being one, and I’ll apologize in advance for my failures and try to think kindly thoughts your way if you cut me off in traffic on your way to saving a life.