One lesson we can learn from driving is that you can’t please everyone. For some you drive too slow, and for others you drive too fast, as well as endless other helpful “observations”. It must say somewhere in the driver’s manual, “use your horn to educate your neighbor”. My latest example had an interesting outcome that encourages wonder about the meaning of this encounter.
The car before me avoids a slowdown bump by driving around it on the shoulder of the road.
What made this unusual was that instead of using this trick to continue at normal speed, he slowed up even more than the normal driver who would take the bump. Somewhat confused by his unusual slowness, I chose not to wait for him, but continued at normal speed, taking the bump and passing him while he was still on the shoulder.
Apparently this was not acceptable to him, since he gave me an educational honking as I continued to put a significant distance between us. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to have a conversation with that driver about what happened. How would he criticize me? What would I reply? I didn’t see that there was anything wrong with the way I passed him.
Well, I got home just in time for evening prayers at my neighborhood synagogue, and on my way out someone calls my name. “Aryeh, you know you did something very dangerous when you cut me off on the road.” It was a good friend that I truly respect and love, and I was so pleased that this time I had the opportunity to clear up the disagreement.
I listened carefully to his criticism, looking to see if perhaps he saw something that I had missed. However, reacting to the sense that the criticism was unjustifiably strong (if not completely unjustified), I let him know that it’s not correct to drive on the shoulder. And when I expressed my confusion about his slowing almost to a stop, he apparently misunderstood and thought I didn’t realize that I passed him. So he very seriously pointed out that drivers need to be aware of what’s happening around them. When he talked about my cutting him off, I told him that I was never close to his car. Then he accused me of “deliberately” cutting him off and actually claimed that I was lying to him. It didn’t help to tell him that I love him and would certainly not be lying about this. He walked away in a huff of anger.
Now, I could list several meanings to be found in this confrontation, including my opening comment that you can’t please everyone. But if there’s anybody out there reading this, I’d find it very enlightening to hear what your thoughts are about this. What meaning do you see here, and how can it be applied to life in general? If you’ve had similar confrontations, what meaning did you find in them?
(Submitted by Aryeh Siegel)