Every Friday I go to class and then directly to work. I try my damndest to get to work as quickly as possible. Sometimes luck is on my side and other times not. I was on my way this morning making decent time when I got behind a Pontiac that was driving a bit too slow for my liking. I knew they were probably elderly and I found it ironic that as I was rushing to get to my retirement home job I was getting irritated with this man’s slow driving. I have always been a patient person but my job has taught me to be even more so. It was as I was looking at the clock, wondering how much later I’d be, when I saw the man’s bumper sticker. D-Day Survivor 1944 Omaha Beach. As a history lover I found this fascinating. I suddenly began thinking about that day almost 73 years ago. All the recounts I’ve read about it, the way it is portrayed in the movies, and I thought about his experience. What was it like? Was he shot? Did he nearly die? Did he watch his best friends die? It’s amazing to me the sort of horror people can go through in their lives and then suddenly it’s 72 years later and you’re driving down the street in Shoreline, WA and nobody around you knows what you’ve done in your life and what kind of battle you may be fighting.
A little over four years ago, I was picking up lunch at Dick’s on Queen Anne for my coworker and I. She had given me money to pay for it and had said “If you have enough for an extra cheeseburger, get one”. It was the day after my grandfather had died and I was a bit out of sorts. When I came up to the counter I rambled off our order and then sputtered out the part about the cheeseburger. It turned out I didn’t have enough money for it so I told the girl behind the counter never mind, apologized and then said “I’m sorry, I’m out of sorts. My grandfather died yesterday.” Minutes later when my order was finally called, I was grabbing the bag from her when she said “I threw the cheeseburger in there for you. I’m sorry about your grandfather.”
I was so surprised and thrown off I almost started crying. My intention in telling her that had not been to get a free cheeseburger. It had just been to explain my inability to get a sentence out. Her generosity, however small and insignificant it may seem, meant so much to me that I still remember her now, and I know I always will.
My point in telling you all this is as I was thinking about all the things in life that man with the bumper sticker had been through, I remembered my own battles in life and the small things that others have done for me that meant so much. Life is short and so often we are so quick to rush around, judge and focus on the bad that we forget to focus on the things that are good. So, instead of getting mad at the man in front of me, honking, cursing and riding close behind him, like so many frustrated drivers like to do, I just tapped on the brake, gave him some space and enjoyed the ride.