Lessons learned in the ’burbs



While I was out running last weekend, something happened that infuriated me.

A short time later, another incident occurred about three miles further down the road — same road — that made up for it.

Not only did it make up for it, but I think I am supposed to have learned some sort of lesson as a result.

The first incident was fairly straightforward.

I was running on the sidewalk approaching an intersection — a big one.

There were cars coming from the opposite direction, but they were relatively far away. I had plenty of time to cross — I thought.

As soon as I started to step off the sidewalk into the road, a new white Suburban that was approaching from the opposite direction sped up and then turned right, cutting me off.

I was fairly amazed and startled.

The driver had a phone glued to their ear and never even glanced my way. I know the driver saw me because they really had to speed up to cut me off. I was rather unhappy.

The circumstances of second incident were similar to the first.

The driver was coming from the opposite direction, too, and was also going to turn right.

This time, it was a concrete truck loaded with more than a few thousand pounds of steel forms used for pouring concrete walls. The driver was a young Hispanic man and I am sure that he was driving the truck back to the shop.

It was quitting time, around 6:30, and my guess is that he was very tired and anxious to get home.

The drivers are usually pretty low on the totem pole. Plus, I know it is really hard work because I used to be in that business a long time ago.

The truck driver was much closer to the intersection than the SUV had been, and I assumed that he was driving through it, so I stopped on the sidewalk and waited.

He must have really jammed hard on his brakes, because when I looked up he was completely stopped, blocking traffic, waiting for me to cross.

I motioned for him to drive, but he shook his head and waved me on.

I was so surprised because those trucks don’t stop easily, and I know he was probably in a hurry.

That’s the entire story.

I am not sure what the lesson was that afternoon, although it probably had something to do with respect or the sense of honor that many people, who don’t seem to have so much materially, frequently exhibit.

I see it all the time — little acts of dignity that transcend all status or consequence.

In the dark and often cloudy world we live in today, those acts and those people to me glow like beacons of light and grace.

Hemingway frequently wrote about people like that truck driver, those common people with uncommon character and compassion. He respected and admired them. They give us all something to aspire to, and they give me hope. So what was my lesson?

Well besides, “Ray, you need to pay more attention to where you are running,” I have to say, I am not exactly sure.

You tell me.


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