Monday, April 10, 2006

We’re so Polite

I was on my way home the other day when I ran into a traffic jam. Rush hour driving is the bane of many an existence. Here I was in the far left lane of 4 lanes of traffic doing a great impersonation of a parking lot. After about 10 minutes of moving 27 feet I noticed the left shoulder of the highway. It was empty, I slowly moved a little left and I could see a clear lane for miles ahead. How easy it would be to just take the shoulder, I would be home by now. Why don’t I just do it? Come to think of it, why doesn’t anybody just do it? There is no way a cop would see or even get to me if I did it. The only thing I could think of was the embarrassment of doing it, dealing with the iron, cold stares of the people I was blowing by. And, of course, that internal thing that told me it wasn’t the right thing to do.

My wife and I spent some time in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic doing some service projects. I had the opportunity to drive while there on their highways, if you can call them that. I come to realize that the lines in the road were simply suggestions. That the stoplights and stop signs were, at best, actually yield signs. Very few vehicles didn’t have dents or bumpers tore off. After a few days of getting nowhere fast, I became a less polite, more aggressive, horn blowing, arm waiving, stoplight running, power shifting maniac.

All this came flooding back as I sat in traffic, waiting and waiting, moving and stopping, waiting again. Glancing at the wide-open shoulder with that maniac pushing the envelope open.

We are such a polite people. We wait in lines and don’t bunch up at the nearest opening. We stay within our lines on expressways and only change with a turn signal and an opening. We open doors for people. We say “bless you” to a stranger who just showered us. We’re so polite.

Do you know why? I think it has something to do with the character of the country we live in. I think it has something to do with how our parents raised us. I think it has something to do with our own influences. I think it has something to do with the spirit that we all have inside us … maybe more than a little. Whatever it is … I am glad. God bless you.

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