Things Get a Little Easier – Once You Understand

by Andy Wood on January 17, 2011

in Turning Points

(A Turning Point Story)

On Highway 43 North in Jackson, Alabama, the  Joe C. McCorquodale, Jr. Bridge crosses the Tombigbee River and lands at the base of a mile-long bluff or hill that probably has some name I don’t know.  All I knew at the time was that Ed’s Drive-In (formerly Troy’s) was at the top of it, and that’s where we stopped for a couple of cokes for the road.  Next stop:  Mobile.  A hospital visit or two was surely on the agenda.  Most likely a stop by Bel Air Mall or the Baptist Bookstore as well.

We turned south and started down the monstrous hill.  Highway 43 is a nice, wide, divided highway, and the view south toward the river is really nice.

And long.

Which explains how ridiculous it was that just as I approached the Highway 69 intersection, a lady pulled out in the left lane, right in front of me.

Good.  Stinkin’.  Grief.

I wasn’t much of a horn blower back then.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure the horn even worked on the old brown Cadillac hand-me-down we were driving.

Anyway, clearly annoyed, I did that wide, sweeping swerve to the right around her, sure to catch anybody’s eye who was paying attention.

Apparently she wasn’t.  I drove on.

We reached the bottom of the bluff.  As we were nearly to the top of the high arch of the McCorquodale Bridge, still in the right lane, I approached a propane truck from the local dealer.  I gave my signal to move over and pass him when – oh my gosh! – there she was again.  She came flying up the left lane, and for the second time in less than a minute, this woman had caused me to hit the brakes on a highway.

The offense of it all still makes me shudder today.

I was pissed.*

Oh.  Sorry.  I was a young pastor in my first senior pastor position.  I was, um, inappropriately frustrated.

Have you ever tried to teach somebody a lesson at highway speed?

I don’t recommend it.

“Uh huh.  I’ll show you,” I thought to myself as I drafted over behind her.  “I’ll outrun you.”

I should point out here that these were the days of the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.  I got up to about 70, at the peak of the bridge, and by God, I was going to catch this woman.

That’s when the alarm went off.  Not the Cadillac.  The wife.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

It was no use anyway.  My nemesette was a shrinking figure in the windshield.  Disappearing fast, she had to be doing 90 or more.

So I slowed back down and went from pissed to pouting.  In a minute and a half this rude woman (driver!) had made me suffer the frustration of braking twice, and the indignity of being outrun.

“Nothing,” I muttered, as the cloud grew darker over my head.

Would you believe I saw her again a few minutes later?  On the other side of the river from Jackson is the little town of Leroy.  And there she was again.  Only this time she wasn’t driving.  She had parked her car on the left side of the highway and gotten out.

She was running.

And crying.

And there in front of us was the worst accident scene I think I have ever witnessed.  A log truck – apparently at full speed – had crashed into a little two-seat car – something along the lines of a Mazda Miata.  The entire roof of the little car was crushed in, almost as if the truck had hit it, then run over it.

I can’t see any way someone could have survived that.

And I can’t find any reason why the driver’s wife, or sister, or fiancé, or whoever, should have cared one whit how irritated I was with her mindless, desperate driving.

For five minutes I lived with a completely flawed, selfishly-skewed image of who this woman was.

But that’s nothing.  How about the months… or years… that are wasted believing something about someone that isn’t based on fact, but on your distorted perceptions, hurt feelings, or wounded pride?

Things really do get a little easier… once you understand.

(* – please forgive the crudeness, but there isn’t a more delicate way to describe my ugly attitude.)

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