A usual trip to my daughters karate dojo last night. We’re on the highway, all is well. I see something move out of the corner of my eye and I realize it’s the car in the lane to the left of me now coming into my lane. The front of her vehicle is no more than two feet ahead of mine and it comes to my attention that I’m going to have to react fast. This wasn’t going to be one of those, “I’m getting over, oops I just saw your car, and better get back into my lane” ordeals. No, unfortunately, this was a driver who obviously had no concern as to see if the car she was about to ‘take on’ had a small four year old little girl sitting in the backseat getting ready to go in and yell, “KIA” to her Sensei. All that mattered, to this particular driver, was that she get into the lane I was already in.
I begin to cross off potential escapes in my mind. “Is there a car in front of me? Yes, there is is, so I can’t just speed up”; “Is there a car in back of me? Yes, there is so I can’t just slow down”; “Is there a car to the right of me? No, there is not” That’s the place where cars are pulled over when they stall or police sit to capture the next Speedy Gonzalez.
So, I react: I manage to get my car onto the side of the highway and had forgotten that it’s one of those roughly grooved surfaces that make the most obnoxious noise to awaken those who have possibly fallen asleep behind the wheel. Being sleepy was evidently not my problem. My problem was now getting my car back into an actual lane of the highway that I was in without causing an accident. So, I swerve. I manage to delegate the entire situation perfectly. It was quickly followed up with a silent, “Thank you” to a boyfriend from many, many years ago who was a skilled race car driver; he taught me enough to save mine and my daughters lives many years later.
I watched as a couple of people drove up to her car, pointed to mine, pointed to her and were obviously very angry for her lack of concern. She waved them off and didn’t as much appear to be the least bit concerned at what she could have caused. I then hear my daughter crying because the seatbelt tightened up, as it’s suppose to, and rubbed her neck raw. This driver is now in front of me and I’m keeping a very safe distance. I couldn’t help, but wonder, “She must have really needed to get off at this exit” as it was coming up a few feet later. However, much to my dismay, she didn’t exit. She passed it right up…
“So you caused all of this for nothing? There was no emergency? No reason to do it? No exit you had to make?” and I take a deep breath and realize, “My daughter and I could have been in a horrible car accident because you had no reason whatsoever to change lanes? She now has a mark on her neck, from the seatbelt, because you had no reason whatsoever to change lanes?”
Suddenly I’m full of anger at a persons whose face I saw all of a split second. It took every ounce of rationality inside of me to steer my way off of the same exit I was convinced she had to take. I watched that car continue down the highway as I drove up the off-ramp. I took a deep breath and told myself, “Self, as much as you want to go let this person have it right now, what matters most is you’re both okay and the most that happened was your daughter has a seatbelt burn on her neck. Breathe! Just breathe.”
It’s been over 24 hours and I’m still reminding myself to breathe as my daughter complains that her neck hurts. I had to remind myself to breathe on the way back home, from my daughters dojo, as she panicked thinking the same car was on the highway again and yells, “It’s her, Mommy, it’s her, get away from her!” We, as mother’s, know how much our childrens cries can haunt us. I will have to remind myself to breathe again, when I see her, as we live in a small town and the odds of us seeing one another again are great. I will have to remind myself to breath each time I think of a child, or family, who lost their lives because of people just like her…a careless & wreckless driver.
Changing a lane could change a life; proceed with caution.