Have you ever been flipped “the bird” while driving? Or maybe you’re the one who was doing the flipping. After my recent experience, I am convinced “the bird” is an awesome point of reflection, an invitation to stop and think (regardless of whether we’re giving or receiving).
Recently, I was merging onto Macleod Trail. This intersection has multiple lanes with people merging off and on at the same time. My goal was to get over out of the merging traffic into a left lane that was less busy. I checked my rear view mirror, checked my driver’s side mirror and then did my shoulder check – all clear. So I moved over into the space I saw. But once I had moved over, I had someone right on my tail. Now he had time to come up on my tail, so I don’t believe I actually cut him off. In any case, he wasn’t happy about it.
My new friend in the navy sedan continued to ride my bumper even though the left lane, aka the passing lane, was completely empty. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t just pass me. I guess I have a cute bumper.
Eventually, traffic picked up speed and moved passed a large, slower moving truck that was in the right lane. This provided a gap so my new friend could change lanes to the right. As he gets in the right lane, he speeds passed and then flips me the bird.
What?!? I’m confused. What did I do to deserve that? Be in front of him? I really don’t think I cut him off as I had ample room, and if I did something to piss him off, it wasn’t intentional. But for him, maybe he thought it was on purpose. Or maybe he just didn’t like that I was in front of him.
At first, my feelings were a little hurt and I was offended. Why was he so angry with me that he needed to do that? But then I realized that it was unlikely that this had much to do with me. Maybe he was late. Maybe he’d had some bad news. It could have been anything really. I will never know.
His reaction to my perceived slight highlights how so often we humans assume that others are intentionally trying to ruin our day. In reality, they’re not trying to piss us off, they’re just going about their day. Next time we feel the need to flip the bird to someone, maybe we should ask ourselves, “Why?” Having a bad day? Stressed about being late? Is it really going to accomplish much? Is it really going to make us feel better? (I know we want to say yes, but will it really?)
Since I was on the receiving end of this particular bird, I get to choose my reaction and what I learn from it. In the moment, I opted to send my new friend LOVE as he sped through the construction zone only to be slowed down by others whose bumpers he also seemed enamored with. In my heart, I wished him well. Okay, not really. I had to say it out loud, over and over again because I wasn’t so happy about it the whole thing. But I did it and it helped me let it go. I really do hope he found some relief from his bad day. Perhaps flipping me the bird gave him some relief.
So often we attribute intent and accuse others of purposefully upsetting us when in actual fact, it’s our issue and it has nothing to do with the other person. I know I’m guilty. But now that I am aware, I can do better.
So thank you, my new bird flipping friend, you offered me a lesson with your middle finger. In return, I send you nothing but LOVE.