The Finger 7/18/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

On a road built to access a group of stores, the one I was heading to was on the left. The road was two lanes, with a long turn lane. As I was getting close enough to my turn that I needed to begin to slow, I moved into the turn lane so as not to disrupt the traffic behind me. As I did so, I noticed a car, some distance away, coming the opposite direction in the turn lane as well. There was a store to my right, but not much else. I assumed the car would be turning there, and yet, it didn’t seem to be slowing.

The car kept coming towards me, not decelerating at all. When it was close enough for me to clearly see the driver, it swerved back into the driving lane, passed, and swerved back into the turn lane. Several hundred yards later, it became clear that she was heading towards the turn lane at the stop sign behind me.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think the turn lane should be used as a driving lane. Yes, it became the turn lane eventually, but if I’m heading to a stop sign, I don’t turn into the turn lane until I’m at the turn lane. Does this make sense? I feel I’m speaking in circles. And as she was rather close when she finally swerved, I could see her clearly enough to even see the wedding ring and nail polish she was wearing. Now, she was kind enough, as she passed, to at least give me a friendly little wave.

Little because the wave consisted of just one finger.

This got me to thinking. There are some people who just choose to live angry lives. I was using the turn lane as it was intended, namely, to turn into one of the store parking lots along the road. She was driving to it to get to the stop sign behind me. And yet, she was the one that gave me a sweet little bird to brighten my day.

It didn’t bother me one way or the other. In fact, truth be told, I literally laughed about it. But I can’t help but wonder what it must be like to live a life of such anger. It’s not just her bad driving habits, but that she felt she needed to show such angst towards me because she was so terribly inconvenienced that she had to move out of the lane and back into it without even slowing down.

People often don’t understand driving. I’m used to that as well. I was married to a woman who thought that you could pass if the yellow line was solid on one side and dashed on the other, not understanding that if the line is solid on your side, then you are not allowed to pass. She insisted it was just meant as a warning to pass with caution, but, of course, you always want to pass with caution. I had a girlfriend who was so excited to explain to me that she had learned that if she manually adjusts the rear-view mirror at night, she can still see without lights being so bright behind her and was actually angry with her when I showed her the lever that does that automatically because “I messed it up”. Yeah, I was associated with some real winners.

I wonder what else makes this woman angry, and where she insists on showing it. Such a little thing, to have to swerve out of a lane she was improperly using in the first place, and she felt she had to shot anger towards me. Does she show such angst when she cannot find what she seeks in the grocery store? Does she become angry when children make noise in her restaurant? Does she flash the finger at her own family when they disagree with her? How well liked, or disliked, is she?

I believe we all have a choice as to how we will live. This woman was not young. Although not old either, I would say she was old enough to be a grandmother. And I do not know the kind of day she was having. Maybe there was not enough whipped cream on her coffee that day. But we have a choice of the face we show to others, our family, and our friends. We have the choice of being kind and reflective of our own actions, or if we are going to throw our phone and break the television. Which choice would make us easier to love?


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