WHAT are you DOING!??? VERRRRRRY NICE! JUST keep on COMING!! It’s not like I have THE RIGHT OF WAY or ANYTHING!
The voice is my own, spoken to an audience of no one. I am alone in my car and some clueless lady in oncoming traffic has just made a left turn after her green arrow clearly has disappeared. I have to stop and let her barrel through the intersection. Sigh
“Learn to drive,” I mutter under my breath. But, despite my annoyance, I stop short of leaning on the horn. Not worth the effort, I tell myself.
A few hours later, I am returning from my errands, late for the next item on my to-do list when the car in front of me is slow to make the left turn when our green arrow appears.
I toot the horn in the friendly driver’s ed recommended staccato, but she is talking on her phone. At the last moment, she wakes up to the reality that she is sitting at an intersection and accelerates through the final seconds of the green arrow, leaving me with a choice. 1) Wait another cycle and set myself further back or 2) Gun it, even though my right of way is gone.
I gun it. And oh, the horns and grimaces!
“Sorry, sorry… my bad,” I say, again to no one, but I do raise my hand to the drivers in oncoming traffic signaling the universal sign for: Now I’m the Asshole.
And I was.
Maybe that was why I didn’t lay on my horn earlier in the day. I have become THAT GIRL – the one who I criticize for various infractions, only to find myself guilty of similar actions which I somehow justify.
Hmm. It was time to sit down in the middle of my glass house and take an inventory of my ammunition.
List of Behaviors I Criticize in Others but Excuse in Myself
Driving: I have no patience for drivers who are distracted, slow, speeding, tailgating or failing to use their turn signals… unless of course, I am said driver. The big difference? I always have good reasons for bad behavior, which doesn’t occur all that often. And I do apologize as best as I can from a moving vehicle. My strongest but shortest lived feelings of regret often are borne out of poor judgment on my part when driving a car. Yet, I don’t give others the same benefit of the doubt.
Parenting: I make fun of helicopter parents at the same time I’m listening the whir of my own rotor blades. Kids need space; they need to experience failure; doing any of their work for them is hurting them more than helping. Yep. I get it. But sometimes it is hard to step back. I like to think of myself as more of an attack helicopter: in and out for specific reasons, all, of course, justified. I would never be the traffic helicopter that just lingers overhead, putting on the pressure. But now I wonder if there is any difference.
Social Media: As social media proliferates, so does the opportunity to ‘do it wrong.’ I immediately jump on the band wagon of haters who call folks out for their various infractions, conveniently forgetting that I too take Instagrams of my food, tweet my airline schedule, and self promote in the humblest way possible. If I didn’t, how would my Mom know when I wrote a new blog, took off on the airplane or was eating ok?
Professional: In business, there are those who get it – and those who don’t. Whether or not you get it, depends on who is doing the complaining. It is easy for me to suggest that the folks who say, “we’ve ALWAYS done it this way,” use trendy catch phrases like “let’s socialize this” or miss the occasional deadline really “don’t get it.” But that NSA agent assigned to my phone and email – and perhaps a few co-workers over the years might find me guilty of gross hypocrisy.
And the list doesn’t end there. I admit to being that girl who arrives late… or early, that girl who cuts the line… or lets a friend join her up at the front… that girl who forgets something on her grocery list and has to run back leaving people behind her waiting… or that girl who forgets to call back .. or that girl who has an unexcused hissy fit at the customer service agent who is only doing his job. Someone always has something to say about her. Including me.
The exercise confirmed what I long knew: I am far from perfect. But the next time I begin to judge someone for their seemingly clueless, obnoxious, hateful behavior, I might first ask myself if I have ever been THAT GIRL and, if I have,…. why? Then I won’t need to make excuses for them. I will already have a few good ones of my own.