Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Confronting Road Rage With Compassion

--by Megan, posted Oct 26, 2007
I was on my way to the gym this morning and making the right turn from 21st onto Broadway when a car ran up onto me from behind, and started flashing his lights in my rear-view mirror.

He then swings around in front of me and jams on his brakes. I go around him and he gives me the finger and mouths a couple of bad words through the window. I blow him a kiss. He gives me the finger again with even more ferocity and some more dirty mouth-mime.

We get stopped at the next light, side by side and he rolls down his window. I roll down mine. He is a well-groomed, professional looking guy in his 40s. Could have been a lawyer or a doctor or a dad or a teacher. He was driving a newish, nice looking mid-size SUV.  "F*&% you," he says, "You think that you can just pull out into traffic with that Volvo like an a**hole."

Those words didn't make a lot of sense to me, but he probably didn't anticipate having to face me at the stoplight and couldn't think of anything else to say.

I hadn't done anything wrong, and I knew it. He knew it too."You should write a driving manual," I say.  "A**hole," he repeats.  I say, "You know, life will go a lot more smoothly for you if you treat other people with love and kindness instead of anger and hate."

Without skipping a beat, but with a noticeable change in tone, he says, "You're right.  You really are.  I apologize.  I'm sorry."

With that the windows go up, the light turns green, and we pull away.

My blood was pumping from the encounter. I was jolted by the encounter, but couldn't tell if it was the fact that someone would treat me so badly for absolutely no reason or if it was my complete surprised when my words had such a direct and powerful effect on him. Those words just came out of me, naturally, and without thought or planning or with the goal of teaching this guy the error of his ways. Those words just came out.

Later on, after my workout, I wondered who had taught who a lesson there at that stoplight. Had I taught him in that tiny instant that love and kindness were more powerful than hate and anger? Or had he taught me that lesson?  The answer, of course is that we taught each other that lesson.

So it is true, just like they say in the books and tapes: treat the good person with kindness and the bad person with kindness, because your essential nature IS kindness.

You are the other person. You are consciousness.
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Readers Comments

Sid Ban wrote: Pat, i liked the mantra very much. "give him a break and a prayer. "

So, one could simply say, "give me a break as i want the best for you" or "give me a break and i promise you i will return your gesture with love. "

I think it might be useful if others could send in their phrasing. This is very persuasive and brings a sense of calm in the storm of verbal disagreement, does it not?
cindyK wrote: I had a similar thing happen to me a few years ago. I was driving to work and this motorcycle passes me and flips me off. I had no idea why! The further i drove, the more it bothered me. I honestly didn't know what i did to deserve such a crude & rude gesture! He was in front of me at the next stop light. I got out of my car (there were several other cars around us, so i wasn't alone), got out of my car and approached the motorcycle driver. I politely asked him why he flipped me off and he kindly told me that i had cut him off. I apologized to him and said he must have been in my blind spot and honestly didn't see him! He then apologized for flipping me off, and we smiled at each other. We both learned something that day!
thaata wrote: Life is a great teacher and we will be learning till the end. Thanks for sharing this story of facing aggressiveness with love and kindness. Love works wonders.
sethi wrote: Thank you for sharing. Yes indeed there were lessons for both of you to learn.
Crystal wrote: It is so ironic that i read this today. I had a similar experience except it was a lady driving crazy in our neighborhood and i flipped thinking of the children in the area and i suddenly turned into a monster. This has opened my eyes and i truly needed this.
Pat wrote: I too wrote a blogpost about aggressive drivers back in dec (give 'em a break and a prayer) which highlighted the need for compassion. But your experience was so aggressive - i don't think i would have kept my cool. Good for you for your loving response and not giving up on that guy. Way to go.
georgette wrote: I liked your story especially how you acted with this angry men ( unfortunatly we have a lot angry persons in my country and really i hope they accept there is love and kindness are more important than hate and anger) god bless you.
pluto178 wrote: That poor man was certainly angry and my heart goes out to him but i am pleased for him also that he was lucky enough to choose you to give a hard time. Things could have been very different for him if he had chosen someone who like him was also angry. Your plus and his minus cancelled each other out whereas two minus's would have created a huge wave of negativity and who knows where it would have ended. I once worked with a chap who tried to bully his workmates after much conversation it turned out his wife never let him speak at home so he forced his opinions onto us instead. We did not tolerate it but talked it out until he realised what he was doing and changed himself. Let us hope you managed to help him to see himself in your mirror. Keep up the positive message.
tonys3 wrote: I'm definitely going to try this sweetness approach the next name an a-hole cuts me off, instead of using vinegar.

Thanks for sharing!

brinda wrote: Wow, what a wonderful example!
Hats off to you.

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