A few days ago, as I was nearing the end of a three hour drive, I came upon a red light where I needed to make a right turn. As I slowed down I looked around to check for any “no turn on red” signs or oncoming traffic. The road looked clear and I was good to go, all I had to do was one last step before making the exciting right turn at a red light: come to a stop. Makes sense, right? Red means stop, green means go, simple stuff. Unfortunately not everyone gets to play the red-light-green-light game in gym class, and as a result these people have trouble with some basic rules of the road. One of these people happened to be driving behind me at the time.

As I neared the edge of the intersection and slowed down to a stop, a blaring car horn shot through the dark night. Someone laying on the horn means one of two things. The first is that something is wrong:
“Hey your taillight is falling out and dragging on the road so I wanted to get your attention.”
“The baby is coming! Get out of the way!”
“Look out for me because my crazy ex-spouse cut my brake lines and I can’t stop.”

You know. Something like that. The second is that someone feels inconvenienced by your driving or the state of traffic in general:
“The light’s been green for 0.0042 seconds and I’m tired of waiting!”
“I’m uncomfortable with you doing the speed limit and I’m not exerting the energy to pass you.”
“Traffic will move faster on 80/94 if we all blare our horns? OKAY, I’M IN!”

This particular night likened my situation to the second of the two. Okay, I thought, something is wrong or this guy is in too much of a hurry to make a stop at a red light. I finished my stop and the masterfully executed a turn while the light was red. I high-fived myself to celebrate. The person in the car behind me then sped around the corner and raced to pass me. I managed to catch a glimpse of the creature in the vehicle as it sped by — a male suspect in his late teens, middle finger in one hand and cell phone in the other.

The taillights disappeared down the road before me. I’d been in situations like this before. Two choices sat before me. Either get mad at the situation or let it go. “Letting it go” is always easier said than done, but I made a valid attempt. I said aloud, after taking in a deep breath, He must be in a hurry, I hope he gets to his destination safely.

Strangely, it worked. An event that might normally anger me was diffused by doing the very thing that caused it in the first place: I came to a stop. Metaphorically, that is. Instead of speeding through the circumstances, I took a breath and came to a stop before making my turn. And it might sound hokey, but it helped me let go of that moment and move on without carrying any sort of negative energy or feeling.

There’s some sort of moral in that somewhere.
Anyway, drive safely with winter finally hitting the Midwest.

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