It’s always good to drive with your eyes open. Especially here in our Nation’s Capital, where people take a turn signal as a challenge, not a courtesy. I have been trying as I go here and there to keep myself attuned to the people who are walking as I’m scooting around town.
Today my route was through a main part of Silver Spring, a sprawling city-that-never-ends. If you’ve never negotiated Georgia Avenue, inside the Beltway, at lunchtime in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, I’ll give you a clue. You get nowhere fast. There’s lots of traffic signals, lots of pedestrians, lots of people trying to navigate the crosswalks and impatient cars zooming around. People are hauling bags, briefcases, boxes and babies. Their footwear is everything from white sneakers (hello, tourists) to sandals to make-my-feet-hurt pointy-toed 9 inch heels. (Yes. 9 inch. I know because I measured a pair of them at a store recently. I couldn’t stand up in them, let alone cross a busy city street. But then I’m a wimp.)
So people-watching is part of my entertainment as I chug my way through these busy streets. But more than just people-watching, I study expressions. Who looks tired. Who is laughing. Who is visibly wilting in the heat, and who looks like they just walked off the page of a Neiman Marcus catalogue.
One guy waiting for his turn to cross the street today had on a black T-shirt with white letters that read, “I don’t care.” He looked like he meant it, too. His face was in a scowl. His baseball cap was pulled low over his face. He carried a couple of grocery bags, one in each hand. When the “walk” light came on, he was clear to cross the street in front of my car. With narrowed eyes, he glared at me, pointed his finger at me and yelled, “MY. TURN.”
Indeed, sir. It was.
I was initially surprised, but then smiled, waved and waited before I made my turn. He glared again, and walked even slower. I tilted my head, shrugged my shoulders and waited. He looked back at me, and then took slower steps. A car behind me honked. He yelled again, “MY!!! TURN!!!” and strolled slowly across my travel lane. Gradually, I moved through the crosswalk and on my way. But the man’s frustration and anger stayed with me.
Was he mad because… he had to walk on this beastly, hot day? …he had already had a close call with a car? …he had been given bad news? …had a fight with his partner?
Who knows. All I know was that a very hot, cranky person needed my patience today.
I thought about the undeserved rage I experienced as I drove home. Praying for God to “enlighten the eyes of my heart” I considered what this man’s life story might be. But truthfully… it doesn’t matter. He simply needed someone to accept that it was, indeed, his turn…