by Janice Price
The face in the rear view mirror was so distorted it was impossible to tell whether the driver in the vehicle behind me was a man or a woman. Both fists were waving wildly and the mouth was contorted as the lips formed angry words. It was not a pleasant view and my ears burned with what was undoubtedly being screamed at me.
What did I do to initiate this? I stopped to make a left turn and waited for the oncoming traffic to pass before making the turn. The car behind me speeded up instead of slowing down. At the last moment, the tires squealed and the car swerved hard to the right. And suddenly it was almost touching my bumper – deliberately almost hitting my car so that I might have a closer look at the temper tantrum being thrown at my expense.
“Angry drivers!” was the way I greeted my brother as I pulled into his yard.
“Was your turn signal working?” he asked.
We checked the turn signals and brake lights. All the lights were working. Road rage seemed to be the only explanation for what had just occurred.
Thankfully, the patient people on the road today compensate for the short-tempered people such as the angry driver I “ran into.”. Whenever that image comes into my mind, I try to offset it with a reminder of the kind people who rescued me when I was walking during a thunderstorm or offered to give me a lift when I would be walking home burdened with purchases.
There was a time when strangers stopped to help someone stranded along the road or to offer someone a ride. Today it can be dangerous to do either. That’s one nice thing about having moved to a small town. When I was without transportation in a big city, people would watch me struggle to carry or cart groceries home. When I moved here, neighbors sometimes would stop and offer to help. In the big city, everyone was a stranger. In this smaller city, it’s easier to spot familiar faces.
I can remember the face of the angry driver but I can’t remember the faces of the young couple who pulled off the main road to help me after I stepped on a curb that wasn’t there. Tall grass caused the curb to appear to extend farther out than it actually did. They were driving on the main highway and noticed me sitting in a side street with my feet propped on bags of Mother’s laundry, unable to get back on my feet without help and waiting to be rescued. They turned around to check on whether I was injured. (I was, or I wouldn’t have been sitting in the street.)
Anger is an unpleasant experience, whether it’s our own anger being vented or someone else’s. When I dream, I don’t want it to be a nightmare about someone waving both fists at me. I want to dream about the hope, love and laughter of life. If nothing else, I can dream about the laugh I imagine the young couple shared after they helped me to my feet and watched me pick up the bags of laundry and limp to my car.
I wish for the angry driver one of life’s embarrassing memories to laugh about and a sound night’s sleep. And I pray for that he or she might find “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding,” (Philippians 4:7a).
© 2005 Janice Price