I was on my way to work from the doctor’s office. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an older dark blue pickup truck pull up beside me. You know the kind that has the metal screws and bolts visible on the outside? Sturdy-type truck. Usually, I’m the kind of person that prefers to give drivers direct eye contact– especially if I like their vehicle. I often remind myself of the human behind the wheel. This keeps me from anxiety while I’m driving. This time, I didn’t look – I wasn’t really feeling particularly social or human, for that matter, as I’m dealing with a head full of fluids and everyone sounds like their in a twenty-foot deep tunnel.
But I heard the honk. The first thing that went through my mind, before I turned my head, was that this must be one of those humiliating cat-calls. I also always look at people who do cat-calls, directly in the eyes – so they can see the human that they are attempting to degrade and objectify. So, I turned my head.
It was a man around 75, if I can eye-ball my ages correctly. He had a kind face. An oxygen tube was encircling his face, ending at his nostrils. He waved for me to put my window down, and I did. We were at a light, so it was fine to take a moment. I worried that maybe he wasn’t feeling well. After my window was down, he leaned out of his window and said, “Did you know your right brake-light is out?”
No, I didn’t know that. And I realized in that moment that these are the moments that I miss in our society. I felt so grateful for him to take the moment to get my attention and let me know about my brake light because I want to drive in safe conditions with all of my indicators working. I thanked him and said I’d get it fixed. But the moment has stuck with me all day.
It reminded me of a few weeks back when I was waiting in a long line to exit from a parking lot to a busy road. The woman in front of me decided to find a different exit and as she turned, I noticed that her gas lid was open. So, I got out of my car and approached her. At first, she ignored me. Finally, I must have acted like a monkey enough for her to stop and roll her window down. The look she gave me could have killed, if looks could kill. When I let her know that her gas lid was open, her response was “Oh, that’s all? Okay, thanks.” And she got out of the car and shut it.
But it was a good experience for me to get out of my comfort zone and get someone’s attention and help them in ways that they would have been otherwise oblivious to the fact that they could use the help.
I wouldn’t have thought to check my brake lights until my next oil change, which isn’t for another few months (praise be to synthetic oil). But this guy helped. And I am grateful.
The take-away: Check your car lights regularly and express gratitude for those moments when strangers extend themselves beyond social norm comfort zones and enhance your life in ways that you don’t expect.