Monday, April 17, 2006

Freeway Faith



It happened just the other day.

Some idiot in an old Buick pulled right out in front of me, forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid slicing his car in half. He was either too stupid or too occupied on his cell phone to even notice me shaking my fist and uttering a string of profanities long, loud and nasty enough to make even my old Drill Instructor blush. (One time, in boot camp…my fellow inmates and I counted—he used the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge expletive nearly seventy times in the span of one minute).

I can't tell you how many times I've wished for one of James Bond's Aston Martins decked out with a few of Q's stinger missiles hidden behind the headlights.

“Don't you do it! Don't you dare pull out...oh you *&%$#@! Take this! Haha! You're sorry you pulled out in front of me now, aren't ya!? Yeaaaaah...”

I usually only have these episodes when I'm alone. By and large, I try keep my composure when I'm driving with my wife, though she's made enough comments that I know I'm not always entirely successful. An ex-girlfriend said she genuinely disliked me when I got behind the wheel.

It's not that I'm a bad driver. Just an aggressive and intolerant one. I hate it that I always seem to be a magnet for the most incompetent motorists on the road. My brother-in-law has a bumper sticker that gives me grins every time I read it: “Why am I the only only person on earth who knows how to drive?” Amen, brother.

I've been thinking lately that life is a lot like a freeway. You're moving forward, toward a destination somewhere in the unseen distance, which is good, but it's not always swift or effortless. Sometimes you're racing along and other times you're stuck in a traffic jam. Other drivers get in your way. There are detours and roadblocks to hinder your momentum. Sometimes you have to exit one road and merge into traffic on another going in a completely different direction. And sometimes, you're the victim (perpetrator) of a minor fender-bender or a catastrophic accident that destroys your chance to get to where you're going and even that of those around you.

The problem is, I don't like myself when I drive.

I'm at my worst when I'm behind the wheel. I'm my most unforgiving, most angry, most ungraceful when on the road. If the road to wherever is a metaphor for the road of life, I'm in trouble. If there is one situation where my actions deviate the most from the ideals of my faith, it is in my car. And that shames me.

And what happens when Superior Driver Me does something dumb—cuts someone off, changes lanes without noticing that car in my blind spot? “Yeah, yeah, get over it,” I holler aloud to the driver gesticulating wildly behind me. The difference, I tell myself, is that I had a temporary lapse of judgment while everyone else is stuck in perpetual driving ignorance. Yeah, sure Brandon...you keep telling yourself that.

Where is my love for the guy who is going twenty miles below the speed limit on a crowded two-lane road? Where is my forgiveness for the lady who just changed lanes and almost side-swiped me? Where is my grace for the guy who just intentionally cut me off?

If I can't display Christian attributes during something as innocuous and irrelevant as driving my car, how do I expect to apply them when life comes at me with far more vicious and agonizing attacks? Am I really so deluded as to think that the two aren't related—that my responses to the little things will not also rear their ugly heads in the midst of the truly big things?

Can my road rage be anything other than sin?

If so, I desperately need to check my map. I have a feeling I'm headed in the wrong direction. Or worse yet, toward a horrible accident.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Bert said...

I feel the same way (I've been known to get the road rage).As I'm calling someone else an A**, there probably saying the same thing about me as I get angry and end up looking ridiculous. Maybe on my way home today I'll try to be nice in traffic:)

2:54 PM  
Blogger Tanya said...

I think your post is a sure sign that you are not headed in the wrong direction...maybe just a different direction than what you are inclined to take. To add to the clever metaphor you have so brilliantly composed...a map is to giving direction as Bible is to giving spiritual direction. Right? Neither prevents accidents from occurring, however. If an accident does occur it is not the result of failing to follow the directions...but really, we are all just really bad drivers when we take over the wheel...

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Gilly said...

You should have wrote in there a good story about how one time you were driving your best buddy Gilly's car and hit the most expensive car in San Diego! LOL!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

One of the things I love about living in the city is that I don't have to drive. You really don't fully comprehend the sizeable amount of stress that is incurred through driving until you no longer have to do so.

If I could get away without having to drive ever again, I'd do it in a heart beat.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

3 words: Books on CD... or tape. Makes driving a joy and if the book is good enough, you find yourself making excuses to get into traffic.

Otherwise, dealing with distracted drivers listening to their books driving is an excercise in grace. Keeps us mindful of that.

Read on,
Paul

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GREAT analogy! Really good and something I think we all can relate to on some level (I mean who hasn't gotten angry at least once while driving?).

Really good stuff Brandon, as usual!

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Note sure it pertains to the larger message, but: one of my very favorite statistics is this one, announced a few years back.

"90% of American Drivers consider themselves better than the average."

although...maybe there is something to the larger message there. Maybe we get impatient/frustrated/angry with those other bad drivers because we believe we have more of a right to be there than they do.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

My advice to you... CHILL OUT.

Have the courage to drive the slow lane and reflect on life. Laugh at all the miserable people driving past you going on with their miserable consumerist lives. Don't be a part of their pitiful lot.

Be a bit more type 'B' is say...

9:30 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

You forgot one POD...and take a break to sit back at a Viennese cafe and sip a good cup of hot espresso. Ah, the good old days.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

Ahh, sitting back, drinking a cafe, eating sacher torte during the day... at night drinking giant beers watching drunk people fight, and singing, "I wanna know if you'll be my girl."

Not to mention the self-cleaning toilet seat...

9:42 PM  
Blogger supermn said...

Thanks for the nod. :)
I completely understand this issue and i think you know that. However, since moving away from the fast, airtight, aerodynamic speed machine i was driving, and moving into a literal box on wheels with as much insulation, things have changed. I can no longer speed around like i once did (a good thing). Additionally, if i decide to open my mouth I need to make sure what’s coming out is clean because the vinyl & plastic covering does not hold in sound. Finally, I have had to check myself continually to be a more considerate driver in case i am cutting off or being cut of by a student i mentor's parent ... you never know who's watching...

4:29 PM  

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