I witnessed a car accident this morning. A woman in a Jeep cut off a man in a Ford truck. Rather than hitting the brakes, as you usually do when someone cuts you off, the truck sped up and plowed right into the Jeep. Whether the woman didn’t see the truck or was purposely cutting him off, I don’t know. Perhaps the man panicked when she cut him off and accelerated instead of braking. Whatever the case, the part that really struck me as horrible was the confrontation of both drivers.
They both pulled off to the side of the road (across the street from my bus stop). The man jumped out of his truck screaming “You stupid son of a b****, what the f*** were you thinking?” so on and so forth in this manner. He approached the Jeep and began banging on the windows. At this point, the woman swung her door open (hitting him in the face; to be fair, he shouldn’t have been banging on the windows) and began screaming just as aggressively as the man from the truck.
I kept my phone in my hand, ready to call 911 should this “conversation” come to blows. I watched with horror and disgust as these two people dressed in business attire screamed at each other on 1300 East at 7:00 AM.
First, I have been in two accidents and never realized how fortunate I was to be treated with such respect and sympathy. Both times, the driver of the other vehicle asked if I was ok. The conversation was civil both times and voices were never once raised. There was no blaming, no accusations. The situation was always treated as “Man, that sucks but let’s see if we can figure it out.”
Second, I was saddened by the state of the world if such a display of conflict management has become normal. To see this anger, hostility, and disrespect from two adults made me sick.
I watched as the police approached the scene and listened with perfect dignity as these two people were screaming at him and each other. He took notes and spoke calmly to both of them. At that point my bus pulled up.
I boarded my bus and watched the scene as we pulled away. My disgust soared to a new level when the woman opened the door to her back seat and pulled out two small, crying children.
Shame on those people for choosing to not think before they spoke and acted. Shame on them for forgetting that everyone makes mistakes and refusing to work together to solve the problem. Shame on them for not using self restraint in the presence of others.
But then again, how often do I have the same reaction in different situations? How often have I been guilty of the judgment I've just placed on them?
Lesson observed and internalized.