What is it about being encased in two tons of metal, glass and plastic that brings out the worst in me?
Outside my car, in the real world, I’m fine, even borderline nice. Do I hold open the door for the person behind me? Check. Smile kindly at the harried waitress and compliment her on her manicure? Sure do. I even allow a fellow shopper into the supermarket’s 20-items-or-less line with a grocery cart filled with at least 30 items. (With a significant glance at the cart, then the sign, then the cart, admittedly, but I do cede my rightful spot in line). But if you put me behind the wheel, I transform into Not-So-Christian-Chris and the Jersey-attitude commentary begins to flow.
“C’mon, Van Guy, pick a lane,” I shout towards my weaving fellow traveler. Or, “Hey, chickie in the sedan, get out of my trunk or I’m charging rent,” I bellow at the tailgating miscreant. The play-by-play transcript of events happening around me just leaps, unbidden, from my mouth (maybe I’m covering too many sporting events for the paper). Even I knew I was getting out of control when my auto’s horn, quite liberally used, started to lose its clarity: my six-year-old car now sounds as if it has laryngitis.
I know I’m not alone: though there’s no written proof, I strongly suspect St. Paul began addressing others as “beloved” not only in his letters, but during his travels to preach the Gospel of Christ. Imagine the stretches of primitive road between Corinth and Ephesus, the many rough pathways of Macedonia, of Galatia, of Philippi. I picture the future saint muttering “beloved” along the way as an oblivious pilgrim merged without looking or while he was stuck on a one-lane road behind a donkey with its turn signal incessantly blinking for miles.
But we’re about two weeks into the Lenten season now; last Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 17: 1-9) spoke of the Transfiguration. Jesus transformed Himself into a better, brighter self as an example to Peter, James and John, and to all of us. I’ll try to follow His lead and attempt my own transformation into a more courteous driver. Central Jersey roads aren’t the easiest places to be civil, but my personal Lenten journey should be a bit more challenging this year than giving up chocolate.
So, if you see me on the road during this Lenten season, realize this resolution is a work in progress, and help me out. Signal before you change lanes, don’t tailgate my car, and if you make eye contact with me, chances are I’ll wave you ahead of me….. using all five fingers for once.