This morning I was driving to work only to be cut off by a bright yellow Mustang. The driver was a middle aged, nicely dressed guy, driving like a lunatic. No Passing Zone, means NO PASSING! I blasted my horn as he cut me off, screaming a few “not- so- Christian” words as his back bumper barely missed my front end to avoid a head on collision……boy was I mad! The winding back-roads in Northern Virginia can be so very dangerous…there aren’t any shoulders allowing room for error, and no guardrails to keep you ” between the ditches.” The roads are narrow, curvy and double-lined for a reason! There are brightly colored signs that read, “DO NOT PASS” …they are for there for those drivers who cannot understand the whole double line concept……..
As I watched as he dodged around another car that was ahead of me, safely passing as he went out of sight. I thought to myself, ” If I see this guy in the ditch a few miles up, I am NOT stopping. I am not stopping to help that jerk….” ( It was like I was giving myself a pep talk , speaking out loud, shaking my hand at the windshield….(.suddenly I could have been mistaken for Madea in the movie,” Angry Black Woman”).
About four miles further, I saw taillights. Welcome to m world. Traffic often builds up on even the most hidden back-roads as we all scurry about trying to find new short cuts. Once that short-cut is discovered by countless commuters, it isn’t so short anymore! Rounding the curve, I saw it. I saw HIM. Mr. Speedy Jerk! Mr. Cut People Off.
I veered my car over a bit so I could see what had happened to him. Had he wrecked? Was anyone hurt? How many cars were involved? should I jump out and help? Then I saw it. Right in the middle of the road was a small turtle, standing right on the inside double line. His little head was poked out….his stubby legs moving into the path of on-coming traffic. The guy in the yellow Mustang had stopped his car, and ran back toward us ….risking his own life to swiftly pick up the turtle. The line of commuters behind me began to grow as the guy waited to cross completely over to the other side of the highway where he carefully placed the turtle safely down. The guy behind me in the big over-sized Dodge Ram began yelling out his window, ” Really buddy? It’s a turtle, get moving!” Car horns began blowing….drivers were annoyed. I found myself becoming angry at them, wanting to yell ” hey this guy is doing something kind, something considerate…unlike you JERKS!” Wait, wait…..just wait…..who is the jerk in this story?? Just a paragraph ago, it was Mr. Yellow Mustang Jerk…..now the plot thickens……..now HE is the hero……what?
You know, we as humans are like that. We are so quick to judge others, based on what we see, not what we know. I know absolutely nothing about the man in the yellow Mustang. Nothing. I judged him this morning because he did something I didn’t agree with. I will never know what his urgency to pass me was…..or why he stopped to help the turtle. How often do each of us make judgments based on what we see, or what we hear, or on what we think we know……..and those judgments are wrong……. We judge our dementia patients on how they behave, labeling them as aggressive, combative, agitated…..when the truth of the matter is, it’s the disease process, not the person…….Whether its driving too fast or behaving badly…these are actions, not definitions of the person….. I certainly hope my actions don’t define the person I am. ……
The turtle was safe…..as I passed by, I saw the grass moving as he trudged on his way…..the guy in the Yellow Mustang had saved him and had taken back off, zipping down the highway…….I smiled as I drove and said to myself………………..” What a really nice man ………………………”