Red lights are the great equalizer in my race against the rest of humanity. I love passing people and happily do it, but they always catch up to me at a red light. Sometimes, I give myself points for the number and types of cars I pass on the way to work in the mornings. I do this without going more than five or so miles above the speed limit, because that’s all the more most people allow themselves to speed without feeling like they’re breaking the law, even though they are. I justify my behavior because it allows the car behind me to drive the speed limit with some cushion in case they have to accelerate to pass someone. I expect the same from drivers ahead of me.
I was driving to work this week and got stuck behind one of those giant hummers. Not one of the old, cool ones but rather, the kind created for upper middle class white people who like to waste gas. I knew it was going to be trouble because I approached it quickly, even though I wasn’t really speeding. I looked in the mirror to my left to see if I could get over to pass it, only to see a solid wall of cars. Glancing in my rear-view mirror confirmed my dilemma.
I let my foot off the gas and slowed from from 55 down to 50, 45, 40. I swerved left just a little to see if I could peek around the beast of an SUV in front of me. It swerved too. I centered myself in the lane again and watched as this car swayed from the dashed line that divided lanes back over to the solid, white line protecting the bike lane. This happened several times and caused me to begin the usual muttering that accompanies most of my driving.
“Get out of my way.”
“If you can’t drive the speed limit, are you equally bad at other areas of life too?”
“God, You can make them move, can’t You?”
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, my gosh…”
“SERIOUSLY?! Are you still drunk from breakfast? You can’t drive in a straight line!”
Convinced this person would eventually kill me if I stayed behind them, I started trying to watch them and the open lane next to me as much as possible. After a stoplight and another mile of this torture, I finally had my chance. I flipped on my blinker, let it flash three times, then shot into the lane next to me and immediately could drive much faster. I peered over at the driver who had impeded my progress as I passed their car. A woman had cocked her mirror over and was putting her makeup on while driving to work. And states are making texting while driving illegal?
I merged back and floored it. The stretch of open space in front of the Hummer was sufficient for a Boeing to take off from and got me to my office without any other encounters with people who couldn’t drive.
In some cases, you can only go as fast as those in front of you. It’s these times that leadership had better have their crap together. Leaders with distractions make for annoying people to follow and nobody wants to be held back by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. In either case, these people can and will be passed at some point or another. It’s only a matter of time.