A few days ago Eric and I went out to the store in the evening. It was raining and dark, and we weren’t in the best mood. We were headed from the store back to the car with our purchases. As we were heading down the aisle in the parking lot, a car pulled out and nearly hit us. My immediate reaction was to be upset. I kept my voice down, but in my moment of non-thinking I made comments about how inconsiderate it was and “Just run me over, why don’t you?”. I was upset and angry, thinking back to all the people who pull out of parking spots without looking for pedestrians, usually paying more attention to their radio or cell phone than they are to people around them who could be injured by their carelessness.
What shocked me was that a moment later, after the driver had righted their car and was ready to pull away, he rolled down his window and made sincere apologies to me and Eric. He said that he was sorry and he just hadn’t seen us there. Eric replied something to him before he drove away, but I was in a state of disbelief. I wanted to say something, but I was so embarrassed by my reaction that the words failed me.
As we got into the car I could only comment to Eric on how badly I felt for assuming that this person was being careless and rude. He honestly hadn’t seen us and he was sorry for what had happened. I felt a sense of shame that I had so quickly and harshly judged this person, not out of any facts in evidence, but solely on past experiences. How could I, someone who is trying to teach others to be better people, react in such a way? I believe that this incident happened to teach me a valuable lesson. I’m still not perfect yet, and none of us are. It takes certain circumstances to make us realize that we still have issues to work on. If these events never happened, we wouldn’t know that we still need to work on that part of ourselves.
It also is a lesson to not judge people without knowing everything. Even if 99% of people pulling out of parking spots aren’t paying attention for people walking, that still leaves the 1% who are, and simply make a mistake. This actually happens a lot in various circumstances. Someone may be rude to you, but it doesn’t mean they’re generally rude, maybe something happened to them moments ago that upset them. If someone cuts you off in traffic, there’s no way for you to know if they’re simply careless or if there’s a woman giving birth in the back seat. If you get shortchanged at a store, it may mean that they’re trying to cheat you, or they may have simply picked up the wrong bill or change. We simply can’t account for all the possibilities in a given situation.
This reinforces my belief that we always need to behave as if there’s a legitimate reason for everything, and not behave in rude or insensitive ways. Even if someone is intending to do something unfair or impolite, our reaction may change the outcome of the encounter. And of course, if it is an honest mistake or explainable reaction, we’ve saved hurting the other person’s feelings, as well as prevented our own embarrassment. Honestly, even today I’ve been reminded that it’s all too easy for us to become angry and overreact to things. We have to take the time to train ourselves to be patient and understanding. We also need to learn ways of communicating that are productive and without extreme emotion.
I don’t know if the man in the car that night heard the things that I said, but I actually wish that I could apologize. Even though the chance for that has passed, Ive sent out an apology to the universe, and I’ve silently thanked him for making me aware of a flaw that I need to put work into repairing.