Traffic Lessons

I had just left Farmer Joe’s feeling good about purchasing all I needed for my dinner party that night in a relatively short amount of time, and under budget. I had an hour’s grace period before I had to start cooking. Driving out of the parking lot to the left turn that led me to the freeway, I ended up behind a stopped car in my lane. The driver was wildly gesticulating with his left hand in a way that indicated to me that he wanted me to go around him. At the same time, a city bus that was on the street that intersected ours was about to turn left in front of us. It was a tight turn. While I should have paid more attention to what the bus was doing, I focused on the insistence of the man and pulled in front of him, thinking I would be poised at the corner to turn left after the bus had made its turn.

I was wrong.

As I pulled next to the man I heard, “What are you doing, you stupid asshole?!!” The bus, now halfway through its left turn, came dangerously close to my car. I realized it was not me he was waving on – it was the bus.

I did the only thing I could. I drove up onto the sidewalk, which (thankfully) was pedestrian free, to make room for the bus to turn. As it did I noticed the faces of a couple of young kids who were looking out the window in disbelief and delight in what was going on. After the bus turned, I had to turn in front of drivers who were waiting to follow the path of the bus, but were impeded by my front bumper sticking out into their lane. Even they smiled at me with kindly indulgence.

What I most remarked on afterward was that I did not call myself a stupid asshole, but instead acknowledged my mistake and the fact that I did the best I could, fairly calmly, in a potentially disastrous situation. So here’s what I learned:

LESSON #1:
Slowing way down when frantic signals are being exhibited is a good idea. Not doing so can lead to misinterpretation.

LESSON #2
Misinterpretation and assumption can lead to disaster. It is no wonder that conflicts between people, between factions, between nations, can seem impossible to resolve. Misinterpretation based on false assumption occurs in an instant of time and is often acted upon in less. If there is no time, opportunity or inclination to check out what has been said or done, or to apologize for misunderstanding someone else, the seed of conflict is planted. I will remain a stupid asshole, and a number of other epithets that I have blocked out or forgotten, in that one driver’s mind forever. And from his perspective, that is absolutely true.

And it is not the whole truth.

Where do you find the whole truth?