Friday, 13 July 2007

Motoring meekly

I've just got back from another two days' teaching in Birmingham, and in the car on the way home I was musing about how to make the driving experience less harmful to my soul.

Unfortunately, I find it difficult to 'turn the other cheek' when I'm driving, and there seems to be an increasing number of idiots on the roads these days. When someone is driving discourteously, particularly if I am forced to brake, change lanes or otherwise modify my own course in any way, I usually shout at them (not that they can hear me - I'm just letting off steam).

And what I shout, particularly if I feel that the other person has put me in danger by whatever it was they did, is usually couched in the sort of language that I hate to hear anybody use in public and would never dream of using myself when not in the car. Unfortunately, New Man has travelled in the car with me often enough by now to have discovered how deeply flawed I am in this respect. (Fortunately, it appears he still loves me despite that. :¬))

As I drive, I either listen to the radio or to a CD. When I'm driving on my own, I have three or four CDs of hymns which I like to sing along to. I think the hymns help - it's very difficult to be totally obnoxious while singing a hymn, particularly as I have chosen hymns which are peaceful and reflective - some old, some modern (but not obnoxiously modern).

However, there are times when my reaction to a particular occurrence is pretty much reflexive, and the hymn is momentarily forgotten.

I'm ashamed to tell you this, but if someone were to transcribe everything I said and sang in the car, it would go something like this:

"Make me a channel of your Get out of the way, you idiot!
Where there is hatred, let me Don't you know how to use your indicator?
Where For Heaven's sake, look where you're going! your pardon, Lord
And where there's Oh, think you can push your way up the inside, do you?
Well, I'm not letting you in, mate! may never seek
So much to be Get off the phone, you moron! as to console..."

And so on.

You may be shocked. I shock myself. And believe me, I do try. But there are some incredibly bad drivers in this world.

So this evening, on arriving home, I actually looked at the Vatican website to see what this 'Ten Commandments for Motorists' was all about. Well, I'd seen all the news articles that poked a bit of fun at the idea of 'Ten Commandments'. But these were actually a small part of a much longer document. And let me tell you, if I were to read this document before every time I got into the car, I think I'd be working much harder at controlling my unpleasant impulses.

That may not always be feasible, but I think I am going to put this quote from Pope Pius XII on my sun visor. A reminder that it's there whenever I'm tempted to respond to perceived discourtesy with anger and more discourtesy may be enough to help me control my temper a bit better.

Do not forget to respect other road users, be courteous and fair with other drivers and pedestrians and show them your obliging nature. Pride yourselves in being able to master an often natural impatience, in sometimes sacrificing a little of your sense of honour so that the courteousness that is a sign of true charity may prevail. Not only will you thus be able to avoid unpleasant accidents, but you will also help to make the car a more useful tool for yourselves and others that is capable of giving you a more genuine pleasure.


Pete or Kathryn said...

Great quote and I share the same struggles in piety while driving a is like a Jekyl/Hyde thing. I'm fine until someone puts me/kids into danger or curtails my course with no awerness that they've been complete road hogs. Ooops, I meant to share that I was going to copy this quote for my own visor, but started to slip into my own little rant. Thanks for the quote, I obviously need it!


Anonymous said...

Your "hymn" had me laughing so hard I could hardly breathe!

Mac McLernon said...

I found that praying the Rosary (in Latin, along with JPII) helped... it does take a while before you get past the "Sancta Maria... oh you toe-rag... ora pro nobis" stage, but persevere.

Anonymous said...

2 days teaching in Birmingham! i bet that was fun!

newhousenewjob said...

Oh, I always enjoy my visits to Birmingham - just not the journeys there and back!

diana said...

Oh you are funny! I think a lot of us struggle with that!
I took a bunch of homeschool girls out to a dinner birthday party. One seven year old, when I mentioned how slow the guy ahead of me was going (for the record 10 miles under) said very solemnly, "My daddy says the 'F' word when people are going too slow." She is deaf and I was saying "Okay, honey, not in front of the other girls..." but she couldn't hear me and said, "Yes, he says the word 'fricking'. But he doesn't say that too their faces; that would hurt their feelings!"

It was so funny!