It could be you….Picture it. You’re late for work and the driver in front of you is going…so…slow. I mean – molasses in January in Maine slow. You want to honk. You want to scream. You’re literally losing your mind. Am I right? Why are people so self-absorbed and inconsiderate? You just want to get where you need to be!
Now imagine you’ve had a super long day and you’ve run into the grocery store to grab a few things. You’ve beat the crowds and you’re next in line, when some lady saunters up and sets her stuff down in front of you. Did she really just cut in line? What do you say to her? How do you feel? Wow. The audacity!
Typical stuff in modern life when out and about. We’ve all experienced one of these things – or something like them. And we probably all felt a little outraged, angry or indignant. Maybe you even said something to the person – a cutting remark meant to remind them of their horrible behavior and put them in their place. “Hey buddy – gas pedal is on the right!” or “What the hell?” C’mon – we’ve all done it. They deserved it, right?
What do you know about the slow driver or the line cutter? Truly. What do you know about them other than the fact that they seem to be oblivious to others? Probably nothing. You don’t need to know anything to know that they’re rude, do you?
Actually, you do.
That slow driver might have just said goodbye to their mom or dad for the last time. Maybe they’re driving home after having just received a terminal diagnosis. Perhaps that line cutter was distracted because those pads she’s buying are because she’s currently miscarrying. Or maybe she’s in the middle of a divorce and rushing home to her kids who are home alone for the first time. You don’t know.
Maybe you don’t care. I mean after all – they’re still being rude, right?
But here’s the thing. They could be you. Someday you’ll be old, and you might struggle to drive. Someday you will lose a loved one and, in your grief, you might do something you didn’t intend to do. Someday your world may come crashing down and you will be them without even realizing it.
I tell you this from experience. I’ve run a stop sign during a time of grief. I’ve snapped at a cashier during a miscarriage. I’ve lost my shit during a divorce and I’ve been the slow driver after I was told my baby might not survive. But do you know what? If you ask my friends and family, I probably say please and thank you more than anyone I know and I’m typically pretty considerate. Those actions were not me. One less honk, one less middle finger and one more wave of “it’s ok – it happens to the best of us” would have meant the world in those moments.
When things happen we often jump to conclusions, assuming the worst motives and assigning blame. But that doesn’t make the world a kinder place. Maybe those people are just rude. But maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re sick, hurting, distracted or afraid. And maybe, in a year or five or ten, they will be you or your loved one. And when that time comes, I guarantee that you will be grateful for the stranger who gives you the benefit of the doubt. So please, be kind. Judge less. Care more. Remember what you don’t know. And never forget that someday, it could be you.