by Father Mark Goldasich
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I believe that hell is the road.
I’m embarrassed how many times I’ve written here about driving and its negative effects on me. What triggers those reactions? Sometimes it’s a simple thing, like people not using their turn signals. But it can also be more serious, like people choosing to treat speed limits as suggestions, rather than the law (especially in school zones).
And then there are the folks who have their eyes glued to their cellphones and not the road. I want to erect a two-way (facing front and back) rooftop sign on my car, mirroring a bumper sticker that said: Hang Up and Drive! (But they’d probably not see it.)
There is, however, one irritant that stands head and shoulders above every other. My most recent experience was a few weeks ago when I was taking my mom to a doctor’s appointment. We were on I-435 and, due to construction, the number of lanes went from three to one.
When I saw the sign saying, “Left two lanes closed ahead,” I moved to the far right lane as soon as it was safe to do so. Naturally, there was a snakelike column there, moving slowly forward. Occasionally, people from the right were being let into the line. I was totally OK with that, as these were cars merging from an entrance ramp to the highway.
What I was definitely not OK with was the people zooming by on my left, long after the initial warning sign and a secondary sign that featured a huge arrow pointing to the right. In my more charitable moments at times like this, I just sigh and roll my eyes; in less charitable moments, I groan and shake my fist as they zip pass. In my least charitable moments, I’m tempted to throw out some stop sticks and then taser the blasted driver once he screeches to a halt.
What possesses people to ignore these merge signs until the very last minute, when they have to force their way in and thus delay everyone already in the line? Do these lane crashers think that no one else has places that they’re going?
Well, I’m happy to report that I contained myself in this most recent incident. I’d love to say it was because doing any of the “charitable” things mentioned above would violate my commitment to be particularly attentive to respecting life in this month of October. Actually, I was only well behaved because my mom was sitting in the passenger seat and would not have tolerated any outbursts (especially the tasering).
Remarkably, I did a little bit of thinking and praying instead. I tried to give the “speeders” the benefit of the doubt: Perhaps they were attending to the needs of some small kids in their car and missed the signs until the last minute. Or maybe they were running late for an interview for a job desperately needed to support the family and had to jump the line in order to arrive on time. I doubted either of those scenarios was true, but they were possible.
I suspected that the folks rushing down that left lane were probably just selfish people, who figured their time or task was more important than mine and everyone else who was dutifully crawling along. If that was the case, I prayed that the Lord would one day soften those hearts and help them notice the presence and needs of others and, maybe for once in their lives, willingly sacrifice the first spot in favor of a lesser one.
In the meantime, I’ll keep working on myself so that, with God’s grace, my nemesis the road will become a highway to heaven.