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Driver’s Ed

Written By Al Jones


I can’t begin to tell you folks how pleasant it is to drive the roads without fear of slipping and sliding. After six months of snow and ice, concrete and asphalt have never seemed more beautiful.  But despite the pleasant driving conditions, ugliness has shown itself. I’m talking about lack of courtesy on our roads.


It’s a busy world... I get it. But it seems to me that it doesn’t take much to tick some people off. If the speed limit is 80 and I’m going 80, I am sure to tick off the guy behind me that wants to go 90. If the light turns green but I take an extra second or two to make sure somebody coming the other way doesn’t run a red, I’m sure to get an annoyed honk from someone behind me that feels I’m not taking off in a timely fashion. I refuse to let these people bother me. There was a time I wanted to retaliate but my need for retaliation disappeared about twenty years ago. Why? In one syllable... Mom.


My mother still has a driver’s license. With eyesight not being what it used to be, she probably shouldn’t. She recognizes that and so she no longer drives.  She’s a very short lady, just shy of five feet tall. I used to make fun of her because she had a cushion on her seat so that she could see over the steering wheel. But despite the challenges she had as a driver, her attitude towards driving always seemed to be positive.


I recall one instance when we were going to the grocery store. Mom had plenty of room to switch lanes as the nearest car was probably more than a block away. But that car was travelling at a pretty good clip and it wasn’t long before it was riding her bumper. It pulled out from behind us and then along side of us. The young lady driving it flipped my mother a middle finger. Mom just continued on as if nothing happened. I remember saying, “That girl just flipped you the bird? You didn’t even do anything wrong? How come you didn’t flip her back?”


Mom just smiled as she said, “She flipped me the bird? I thought she just wanted me to know her IQ. The reason why I didn’t respond was because I would have had to take both hands off the steering wheel to show her my IQ.”


I recall another instance when she displayed great self-restraint. We had come to a red light and for whatever reason, the car stalled. Mom was still trying to get it restarted when the light turned green. This guy in a truck behind her was leaning on the horn. The light turned red again, and still, Mom hadn’t gotten the car to restart. Throughout the red light, the guy continued to lean on his horn. My mom, all four foot and eleven inches of her, got out of the car and calmly walked back to the truck behind her. As sweetly as anyone could have spoken, she looked up at the guy in the truck and said, “I’m sorry sir, but I seemed to have stalled my car. I’m wondering if you could help me get it started and I’ll lean on your horn for you.” The guy was speechless. And much to my surprise…. he actually stepped down from his truck and helped us get the car started again. As he left, I heard him mumble, “Sorry ‘bout that…. honking and all…. bad day.”


That’s the lesson I learned right there. The lesson isn’t to be courteous to others on the road, although we all should be anyways. The lesson is to not let somebody else who is having a bad day, make you have a bad day. You can’t control someone else’s temper, but if you insert some humour and a smile... you can definitely control your own.

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