Driving in NWA
Sometimes when I’m driving in traffic and I am tempted to get perturbed at the driver in front of me for going too slow, I do a mental exercise that helps.
I imagine that the driver ahead of me is delivering a birthday cake and they are driving slowly to keep from slinging it from one side of the car to the other. If they are delivering precious cargo such as that, it might even explain why they are turning off the road at a snail’s pace with a line of ten vehicles behind them.
They just don’t want to hurl that cake in to the floorboard. Why else would they be driving like an intoxicated 98-yearold who can’t see?
When I imagine that maybe that driver in front of me doesn’t really drive that way every day and that maybe he or she has a very good reason for driving as if the open road is too much to handle, I find that I am able to be a little more patient.
Who knows? Maybe the next time it will be me driving slowly because I have some special package to deliver.
In Northwest Arkansas, there are thousands of vehicles on the road almost any time of the day, and at least half of them are in a hurry.
That means the other half of the motorists are in their way.
And that also means that tempers may be prone to flare up.
As for me, I know I’m not the best driver in the region. And I’m also quite sure that I’m not anywhere near the worst.
But here’s what I do know:
Most of the drivers out there on the road have paid their taxes, are making car payments, have obtained a driver’s license, and are paying auto insurance.
In addition, practically everyone on that road has completed some type of driver’s education in the past and/or has some substantial experience behind the wheel.
All of those things together qualify a person to have access to the road.
That also means that every one of us has to respect another person’s right to drive, even if their performance or their proximity to others poses a major inconvenience.
Having said that, I recommend that any time we drive that we do the following: (1) take a chill pill; (2) exercise patience; (3) be considerate; and (4) stop acting like the south end of a northbound mule.
Oh, and one more thing: (5) remember that automobile horns are to be used to prevent a collision, not to express anger.
At the end of the day (or maybe we should say at the beginning of each commute) there are some unchangeable, unavoidable, everlasting truths to keep in mind.
When thousands of people all take off for their destination, some are going to be running behind, while a few will be ahead of schedule.
It is likely to be crowded.
The lights won’t all be green.
Some people will get upset and someone might even get upset at you.
Some will be eating and driving.
Someone will be texting and driving.
Someone might cut you off.
Some fool might change lanes without a signal or without a second’s notice.
Some drivers will appear to be incompetent. Mistakes will be made. Accidents will sometimes happen; be glad you weren’t involved.
Some people, when they get behind the wheel, may act in ways that they would never act elsewhere.
Some drivers might be just plain rude.
Your stress level might go up, if you let it.
To expect everything to run perfectly smooth on the road is perhaps a bit unrealistic, so it’s best to take a deep breath and understand that the commute might include some imperfections.
Such as when one slowpoke in front of you appears to be delivering a birthday cake.
— David Wilson, EdD, of Springdale, is a writer, consultant and presenter, who grew up in Arkansas but worked 27 years in education in Missouri. You may e-mail him at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.