To the guy who ran a red light and nearly smashed into my double pram,
Re: Why I’m not hunting you down. (But I might next time).
I have a baby and a two year old. When I cross roads with them I’m conscious of the fact that I’m not just crossing the road. I’m also modelling how to cross a road. So I model caution. We always stop, look, and listen. When there are lights, I get my toddler to watch for the green and let me know when it is safe to cross. It annoys my husband when we’re stopped waiting for a light to change with no car in sight. But I figure if we wait now, the little people are more likely to wait when we’re not with them. (Not that they’ll be crossing roads on their own any time soon, but good habits start young!)
Today I was out for a walk with the kids in a double pram. We stopped at a light. We waited for a couple of minutes and then the light turned green for us to cross. My toddler shouted: “Green!” I went to step out but noticed your car just in time. You went straight through the red. You and your passenger glared at me as you drove passed. I was the woman giving you my fiercest looking shake of the head. That shake of the head will surely haunt your nightmares.
And maybe it should.
If I had stepped straight out with the green signal, you would have collected the pram. In an instant the two most precious little lives in my world might have been taken from me. It made me sick to the stomach to think about at the time. I wanted to hunt you down. I wanted to shake you until you realised what you had done and what might have been. To realise that you were a menace to society and shouldn’t be driving.
But as I walked on, I started to wonder if you frequently have near misses with double prams, or if maybe driving through that red light was the worst lapse of concentration you’ve ever had behind the wheel.
Maybe you’re usually an exemplary driver. Maybe you have kids and when you take them for walks you make sure they stop, look, and listen. Maybe you think that people who run red lights shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
I started to think about the fact that so many of our encounters with other people are only moments. We only catch a glimpse of what they are like as a driver, or as a parent, or as a person.
Most people don’t see us most of the time.
Most of the time I spend 29 hours a day (at least) chopping vegetables and preparing healthy food for my kids to snack on. But to the couple who saw me at the park last sunny Sunday afternoon, I am the mother who feeds her two year old ice cream.
Most of the time I’ll smile and have a chat with strangers. But to the woman at the shops who wanted to engage me in conversation when I’d had a terrible day and just wanted to run in and out with two sick children, I am the rude mother who doesn’t stop.
Of course, some things are more excusable than others. If I know I am already cranky, I probably shouldn’t attempt a shopping trip with a toddler and baby.
And if you know you are too tired, or otherwise distracted, to drive, you definitely shouldn’t be driving.
For all the many, many moments when I fall short of perfection and have to hope that people realise that they are only seeing a glimpse of me, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. I’m not going to hunt you down.
But watch out Mister, because if I ever see you doing something like that again, I just might.
Yours in hope that I never see you again.