Friday, February 5, 2010

I'll Catch You at the Light

[Previously published on]

On the way to work one morning last week, I was accelerating up to the 50 mph limit when a car closed fast behind me and passed in a stretch of road where the double yellow line was absent for just a few hundred feet. It would have been a close call had another car been approaching from ahead. The passer who was in such a hurry zoomed over the hill, around a curve and out of sight. Just a minute or two later, I pulled up right beside him at a red light. The temptation to wave at him was almost irresistible! In the end, I just focused on the light and to my surprise, accelerated away from the light ahead of him. Maybe I beat him off the line because he wasn't paying attention, but of course, he passed me again before we got to the school zone.
My commute to work is twenty-seven miles and depending on weather and traffic usually takes forty minutes. About ten years ago I decided that the pace of my life could slow down a bit and not much would change. It was easy to rely on my car's cruise control. Setting this handy device at about five mph over the limit tends to keep me going at a speed the state troopers don't seem to mind. Other drivers do. Most just fly by like I'm standing still and ignore me. Some are annoyed. It has always struck me that tailgating at sixty mph is dangerous so when another driver passes me and cuts right in front of me I change lanes. Remember the old rule about keeping one car length per ten mph behind the vehicle in front? The last fifteen miles to my job is all four-lane divided highway and ends at a very long light -- it must be three or four minutes if it catches you, and backs cars up thirty or more deep. For four years now, I've taken the same route to work so it has been easy to learn which lane moves the fastest and at which times of the day. So it seems, not a day goes by that I don't find myself at the "long light" next to someone that passed me earlier on the journey.
Fortunately, road rage is a thing of my past, and personal victories in morning traffic are no longer important. It does feel good though, to be able to leave the vehicle and walk in to work with a spring in my step and a smile in my heart from a fresh reminder that I am indeed a persistent tortoise.


  1. When they do manage to beat you at the light, I wonder how well they use that extra four minutes once they reach their destination? Making a just right cup of coffee and checking their hotmail account, no doubt.

  2. Good for you. Does it come with age? I really need to figure out a way not to let road rage get the best of me!

  3. Here you go, Marty:
    Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

    If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann c.1920

  4. It cracks me up when they speed for no reason & end up at the same red light.