Have compassion - Driving Edition

I was driving my son to school this morning and made a mistake. I wasn’t sure what lane to be in to turn into the school. It’s an honest mistake. I know where the turn is, but there seemed to be a line to turn further back than I expected. But I also saw – the line I thought was the line for school – the lead car was waiting to turn into a business – before the school. I wasn’t sure whether I should go around or wait in line as I wasn’t sure if THIS turn line was the right line.
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I decided to wait in line, but it was so far back that by the time I made this decision, there wasn’t really room to pull into the left turn lane. The result is that the back end of my vehicle was sticking out blocking the thru lane. I would have avoided this had I made my decision to go into that lane about 5 feet sooner. It’s an honest mistake. These things happen.

The car behind me, who I was now blocking, got cranky and honked. I skootched up as far as I could, but it wasn’t enough and I didn’t have any ability to correct my mistake until the car in front of me moved. Eventually the car behind me went around. But then… they pulled even with me and waited until I looked at them – and then they glowered at me. And drove on. Whoever this was REALLY wanted me to know how unhappy they were with me because they stopped to make sure I knew they were mad and they were clearly going to wait until they knew I had seen that they were made at me.

I do understand their frustration. I had made a mistake and inconvenienced them for about 20 seconds. If you add in the time they waited to make sure that I saw that they were angry with me, they were delayed for a total of about 30 seconds.

I am not sure what they hoped to accomplish by waiting to make sure I knew they were mad. I made a mistake and was unable to correct it. I felt bad but, I had no ability to correct the mistake, I had to wait on the cars in front of me to move. I doubt their anger at my mistake is going to impact my future driving. This wasn’t something I did intentionally, it was a mistake.

After I dropped off my son and was driving home I was thinking, it would have been nice if they had been compassionate with me instead of angry. After all, it was a mistake. It’s not like I woke up today and thought, I’m going to inconvenience someone on the road and delay them for 20 seconds just to piss them off. I made a mistake, and realistically – it cost them 20 seconds. Why get so mad about a mistake? Why not just – fix the mistake or work around it.

They had several options. They could see the problem and know I had no ability to maneuver or move. They could see that and respond with patience. Or, they could have gone around sooner as there was no one in the other lane. They stayed, honked and got angry because they wanted me - out of their way and for whatever reason, weren’t willing to consider their other options.

The next time you find yourself getting upset or frustrated that someone else is inconveniencing you, step back and reframe what you think is happening. The person most likely didn’t do whatever it is on purpose. Maybe they made an honest mistake or are having other problems. Instead of focusing on how you want them to fix the problem, perhaps consider how you can fix the problem you are now in. Can you work around them? Maybe help them? I don’t know, but what I do know is that having compassion for the people around you – who will make mistakes – feels better than being in a perpetual state of anger and indignation.

I really do think the world would be a better place if we just had more compassion for one another instead of feeling entitled all the time. So please – practice compassion

FYI - I first published this at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/have-compassion-jennifer-hancock/ 

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