I was heading home on Washington Avenue when we northbound cars had to stop for a school bus coming toward us, red lights flashing, letting kids off. Wait. Wait. Wait. Finally the lights stopped and the bus slowly moved past us. But our lane didn’t move. The ten cars behind the bus slowly followed the bus, and still we waited. And waited. I poked my head around to see what was causing the problem. Ah, two cars ahead the driver was signaling a left turn. Sigh. Two more cars coming toward us. There’s a space! GO! Turn left! Please turn left so we can move on!!
No. The driver continued to wait for a car that was about 100 yards away. That car passed and I was SURE the car would turn, but no. There was another car coming down the road. Way down the road. GEEZ, could you just put your foot on the pedal and GO? HONK, I said aloud. HONK, I said again. And I waited.
Then I began to wonder who this slow, slow driver was. I certainly had time to wonder because two more cars were meandering towards the ever-growing line of cars I was in, all of us waiting for the lead car to turn left. What would make someone take so much time? Why would any driver wait for the entire road to be car-free before turning left?
I assumed it was an old person. Maybe someone whose vision wasn’t good. Whose depth perception left him or her unsure about how far away the oncoming traffic was. Maybe the driver had had a stroke and no longer moved his or her arms quickly. Or maybe the driver was crying because s/he had lost a loved one recently. I pictured a new widow sobbing in her car.
Suddenly, just from my imagining, this driver became a person. My impatience evaporated. Eventually the driver turned left onto Lupine and the procession of cars that had waited several minutes moved on.
As I pulled forward at last, I wondered what would happen if we Americans took a few minutes to imagine what made people do all the things they do. What makes them vote a particular way? What makes them go on strike? What makes them hurt their children? Why does he wear a mask now that COVID is dwindling, and why did she never wear a mask, even when people were dying? There is a reason. Every one of them has a reason.
I pulled into my garage, pondering.
Of course, maybe the driver was a teenager on a cell phone.