I walk a pretty straight line.
I don’t mean I’m perfect. I am as flawed as the next person.
In fact, I dwell so much on how flawed I am that dwelling on my flaws has become one of my chief flaws.
But, back to my walking a straight line.
If I see a sign that reads, “Keep Off The Grass,” I keep off the grass.
If the speed limit sign reads, “Speed Limit 30,” I drive 30 MPH.
I may be the only person in this state who tries always to drive the posted speed limit.
Most people fudge a bit. I’m not judging. I’m just saying.
My husband Dan has been wearing an orthopedic boot on his right foot because of a sprained ankle tendon.
Therefore, his driving is limited.
For the first time in over 45 years of marriage, I am the chief driver.
And it isn’t easy.
For either of us.
Like you, I have established driving habits:
- How and when I change lanes
- Where I park on big department store lots
- How closely I follow another vehicle
- The route I take when entering and exiting our neighborhood
- How I judge whether a yellow light leaves me time to continue
I have the luxury these days of rarely being in a hurry. I don’t have a job or kids to shuttle to events. I am, I guess you could say, a leisurely driver.
The kind of driver non-leisurely drivers hate.
I plan my car trips to make my stops in a prescribed order, trying to avoid making left-hand turns on busy highways.
And I get along just fine.
But now that I’m chauffeuring Dan, I have forgotten how to drive.
That’s because I’m trying to drive the way he drives.
And, I’m trying to drive the way he drives because I am a . . . wait for it.
I am a people-pleaser.
On about our second outing after I began driving, Dan asked, “Why do you take this street out of the neighborhood when you’re planning to turn south onto Sawmill Road?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I just do.”
“If you go down one more street, you’ll avoid a stop sign.”
“Oh . . . well,” I said.
Now, at this point, a string of questions starts running through my brain. My thoughts go something like this.
Why does this matter to Dan? And, if it does matter to him, why can’t he just tolerate the way I choose to exit the neighborhood? Why does he have to comment? Why can’t he keep his mouth shut and let me drive?
You may be shocked at the route my thoughts took (not at the route I took exiting the neighborhood) because you think I’m a nice person.
I am a nice person. Most of the time.
Can you make a higher claim? Hmmm?
But, and this won’t surprise you, when Dan is in the car, I now take his route when I leave the neighborhood, intending to turn left onto Sawmill Road.
And why is that?
Because I am a people pleaser.
I also choose my parking spots based upon his recommendations.
I change lanes or don’t change lanes, stop at yellow lights or proceed through yellow lights, cross a double yellow line to go around a mail delivery vehicle or don’t cross a double yellow line to go around a mail delivery vehicle based upon what I think HE thinks I should do.
I try to do every driving-thing the way HE believes every driving-thing should be done.
I might as well wear a bracelet engraved with “WWDD?”
Not only do I do things his way, I—heaven help me—ask his advice as I drive.
“Do you think I should go around this truck?”
“Is this the best place for me to park?”
“Should I have stopped at that yellow light instead of going on through?”
“What would YOU have done?”
And, I hate myself for it.
Hate, hate, hate myself for this people-pleasing approach to life I have chosen.
On the first Sunday I drove us to church, the inevitable happened.
We were running late. That is not the inevitable thing. Well, it sort of is, but it isn’t THE inevitable thing for the telling of this story.
As I said, we were running late. I won’t go into whose fault it was that we ran late. That subject is for another day and another blog.
We were running late. Dan was checking his watch, sighing heavily, squirming in the passenger seat, looking at the speedometer, and showing other signs of discomfort.
We approached a traffic light. The light was at not a major intersection but not a minor intersection either. I would rate it a Class Two intersection. Moderately busy.
The light was yellow. It had been yellow for a prolonged time. No way I could make my way through the intersection before the light turned red.
Muhammad had met the mountain.
Should I break the law and proceed through the intersection, knowing the light would turn red as I was halfway through, or should I stop and wait for the next green light, knowing that would cause Dan more discomfort?
WHAT SHOULD I DO???
I gunned the engine and raced through the yellow/red light.
And then I was mad!
Mad at Dan!
In my mind I vowed, “That is the LAST red light I’m running for you, Mister!”
Now, if I had uttered that vow aloud, Dan would have been shocked.
“What are you talking about?” he would have asked. “I didn’t ask you to run that red light!”
“Yes, you did!” I would have countered. “I wouldn’t have run that light if you hadn’t been in the car! It’s your fault!”
“You’re crazy!” he would have said.
“Oh, yeah?” I would have said. “If I’m crazy, you MADE me crazy. When are you going to be finished wearing that blasted boot?”
I check our mailbox every day as soon as I hear the mail truck go by.
I anticipate receiving a traffic violation notice. Certainly, that traffic light at that intersection had a camera attached. It is probably the ONLY traffic light in the county with a camera snapping away all day every day to catch lawbreakers like me.
Me. A lawbreaker.
I can’t take it.
When that traffic violation notice arrives in our mailbox, I will tell you this.
Dan is the one who is going to traffic court.
He ran that red light.
I don’t run red lights.
I walk a straight line.