I used to have an extensive list of pet peeves. While I have culled this list as I have grown metaphysically and even changed my mind about who/how I want to be in this world, it is, as they say, a work in progress. One that is still on my list is turn signal misuse, or complete lack of use. I am a communicator, and as such, I not only am sure to communicate as clearly as possible in all ways myself, but expect it from others. I want to say I hope for it from others, but I think I’m still stuck in the expecting. Perhaps, though, I made one small step further towards hoping instead of expecting this morning.
My attitude towards the blinker thing is related to my larger intolerance of inattentiveness, unawareness, unconsciousness. Drives me crazy. I figure that when a person doesn’t use a turn signal, it is hostile, lazy, or distracted behavior. My vote in most cases is for distracted. And for forgetting that other people actually exist, and that some of them may be looking to you to determine whether to turn into a street as you are approaching or whether to pass you on the highway. There are, of course, countless other examples of when the lack of a signal, or my favorite, the unconsciously left on incorrect signal, can mess up other people’s chi. At any rate, suffice it to say that none of it pleases me.
Back to this morning. There I am driving down Hampton Boulevard towards the Midtown tunnel. It will become abundantly clear to me soon that I am “zoning.” This state does not affect my actual driving. I stop where I need to stop, and go when it is time. At one point while sitting at a light, I suddenly notice that my left turn signal is on. I had made a left turn onto Hampton Boulevard, but that was at least a mile back, probably even more. The situation clarifies for me: I have been in the right lane for at least a mile on a slow-going road with my left turn signal on. Then I notice my bright lights are on. Granted, it is broad daylight, so this couldn’t possibly disrupt anyone too much. Right? I turn the brights and the signal off. I’m in the right lane, I think, nobody could possibly think I wanted to turn. But they could think you wanted to get over, I counter.
“I take my waking slow,” I think to myself, strangely proud that I would evoke Roethke’s poem at this moment of a Friday morn. The pride disappeared as quickly as the realization dawned that I had done exactly what I hated in others. I had done one of those things that usually “proved” me superior and miscellaneous strangers inferior. I tend to take my lessons quickly these days, so of course, the next thought was, duh, no telling what others are doing/thinking/feeling when they screw up in such ways. I couldn’t have even said what was distracting me while I let that signal click away for over a mile. It is possible that, generally speaking, perpetrators are hostile, lazy, and inattentive. But why not give them the benefit of the doubt in the same way that I wanted the benefit of the doubt (from myself, from others) when I realized what I was doing? And anyway, as I have said a thousand times to one angry driver or another, why get mad when it only harms you anyway? Unless we take it to the extremes of human behavior, as a very few do. Our anger, annoyance, and frustration will never even be known to the offenders, much less will they suffer for it. It is ourselves and anyone riding in the car with us that will really pay the price for our intolerance. They don’t say take a deep breath for nothing; it really works. So, let’s all take a collective deep breath when it comes to these daily annoyances over which we have no control. Relinquish control, relinquish taking things personally.