WORD FOR THE WEEK
I PROBABLY shouldn’t have done it. In fact, on reflection I’m sure I should have known better – but I just couldn’t resist.
There I was, driving to the supermarket against the flow of traffic and every single person driving towards me looked as miserable as... sin. Admittedly it was quite early in the morning – but, even so!
I reckoned that if they looked that glum before they even got to work, then the chances of their day improving were pretty slender, to say the least.
So, I resolved to do something about it. The traffic was very slow, so we all got a good chance to look at each other through the windscreen of the car coming the other way.
I decided that I would smile pointedly at every single driver coming towards me, in the hope of eliciting some kind of response from them. And did I get one? Did I heck!
I drove the entire length of that road without a single positive response. They all continued to glower out at the world from under furrowed eyebrows. In fact if anything, some of them looked even worse. So much for my brilliant scheme!
Of course, I’ve got no idea what made them look so miserable. They might have been dreading that particular day at work, they might have had an argument with someone they love, or fallen out with the dog!
Their smile might have been wiped away by some far deeper problem which just won’t go away. Whatever it was, a silly grin from some total stranger in the car coming the other way wasn’t going to make much difference.
It’s one thing to take an interest in each other: in fact, it’s one of the best things about being human. But thinking we can sort out each other’s lives, even by flashing a silly grin at a passing motorist, is another thing altogether.
The Apostle Paul was one of the people who founded the Christian church. He travelled from city to city and country to country, always relying on the kindness of others to give him a bed for the night or a meal. Later on, he wrote to some of his new-found Christian friends that we should “bear each others’ burdens” This was a way to help the other person without interfering in their life.
I’m not sure that grinning inanely at sleepy people really fits the bill. There are far better ways to lighten somebody’s load.
But if you see some total stranger smiling at you in the rush hour – at least you’ll know who it is.
The frustrations of motoring