I have been a driver for the past twenty-two years and have never been involved in a major accident or traffic infraction, except driving over the speed limit seventeen years ago (66/45!). As I have grown older I am more conscientious of my driving and the perils that can potentially confront me on the road, from inclement weather, acts of God, car failure, dare devils on a fast and furious mission, road rage bandits, and the much feared drunk drivers who prowl the streets on any given day.
Today I attempted to squeeze through a trailer and a parked car. The trailer was making its way to a gas pump when it came to a sudden halt parallel to the parked vehicle on my left flank. I misjudged the space between them and as I proceeded to pass I soon realized that the space was too small to allow me safe passage. So I stopped until the trailer moved.
I parked my car in front of the gas station convenience store and as I exited my vehicle an untidy, disheveled young guy approached me somewhat exasperated and started barking at me about my ignorant move in trying to squeeze through the trailer and the parked vehicle. His rapid fire hysterical demeanor seized me by surprise as I quickly realized that my attempt at stupidity had candidly been witnessed. ha ha ha. How embarrassing.
Given that my “ignorant move” was indefensible (those were his words), I said nothing in my defense, except to mumble a nervous question about whether he was the owner of the trailer. He said no, but he reiterated that my audacity struck him more like idiocy than a diligent driving maneuver. That is it. My ego was crushed. I regarded those terms as fighting words. I was almost tempted to fight back with thunder and lighting. But I knew I could not win. I stood there naked and guilty, while being confronted by my traffic sins. The accusatory bony finger was too compelling for me to make even a half-hearted believable excuse.
I’ve learned from past experiences that the quickest way to diffuse a heated situation is to apologize right away. On the spot. It is not every day that you will get the opportunity to be shamed and blamed in public by a total stranger, even when the cause is just. Because the mistake was mine I also acknowledge the need to forgive the lack of tact coming from that young guy. His need to insult me in order to bring me to my senses is due to who he is and how he has learned to manage other people’s mistakes.
I felt a rush of relief by dealing with the situation the way I did. By saying I was sorry I brought closure and disarmed a highly volatile situation where I could easily have traded insults with a total stranger. I am not that kind of unbending macho type. I am a Christ follower. I make mistakes. I need Christ’s forgiveness every day. I need Christ to save me from future stupidity and ignorance ( on the road including), from misjudgment and prejudice. People will shame me and condemn me for my transgressions, but Christ will never do that because his name spells grace and love for undeserving sinners such as me.