“We’re all just walking each other home.” — Ram Dass
People do funny things while driving home in commute traffic. Here is one you’re probably familiar with:
A large number of cars are trying to turn right, so the right turn lane slows down while the left lane moves faster. All the cars turning right wait patiently in a single-file line.
But every once in a while, a guy appears to cut in line. He cruises in the left lane until he’s skipped over most of the cars, then he squeezes in. This slows down both lanes.
As far as I know, there is nothing illegal about this. It’s just that everyone sees it as rude. The guy cheated.
There is sometimes one person in the left lane who descends on the cheater with honking and ire. This person thinks, I’m gonna teach this guy a lesson. It gets awkward as we all watch this righteous driver honk and gesticulate at the guy trying to cut in.
Some of us nod with approval. But many of us feel that the problem has only been made worse. The new confrontation interrupts the music we were listening to, the radio program, the dreams of home.
At the end of the day, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the “cheater” really did forget to change lanes until the last minute. Or maybe he truly is in a bigger rush than I am. Maybe he’s late for his kid’s soccer practice. Maybe his wife is sick.
The way we treat each other in these little situations speaks volumes about who we are.
We often forget that when we’re stuck in traffic, we’re all in it together—just trying to get home.