Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

One Take from the Week #11: Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

I woke up from my little nap to realize we were sitting in traffic. I had a slight urge to use the restroom, and we were at a standstill. Thirty minutes later, we moved about fifty feet. The urge was getting stronger. Being stuck was starting to get frustrating. The exit was less than a mile ahead.

A steady stream of cars was travelling down the shoulder to the right of us. I hate when people do that. But then a thought crossed my mind: What if the people in front of us had no intention of getting of the interstate? If that was the case, then being on the shoulder to get to the exit wasn’t really that bad. I continued to gaze into the side view mirror as the stream of cars continued past us.

“Hey babe, why don’t you pull off onto the shoulder like everyone else,” I asked. Bethany looked at me with a questioning look in her eyes. What I asked was completely against all our traffic etiquette beliefs. The answer was no.

Fifteen minutes later and another twenty-five feet down the road, my patience was wearing thin. Our estimated time of arrival was creeping towards midnight. It was only four in the afternoon. “C’mon, take the shoulder. There’s a break in the traffic coming up,” I said.

She looked at me again, shook her head, and then moved into the shoulder. As we drove, my wife voiced her concerns. She didn’t like the places where the way narrowed. A few cars up ahead of us were trying some half-hearted blocking maneuvers. Bethany’s grip on the steering wheel got tighter. We were so close. And then, traffic stopped. It turns out that all traffic was being diverted to the exit due to the overpass being completely blocked by two wrecked tractor-trailers.

A passenger in a Subaru next to us rolled down his window. We heard him waving his arms and yelling unintelligible words at us. Bethany looked straight ahead. She had her blinders on and wouldn’t give the guy the satisfaction that comes from retaliation. In my mind, I sized him up. Yeah, I thought. I could make him tap out in less than a minute. I dismissed the thought, looked at him, shrugged my shoulders, and offered him some prayer hands with a silent wish for peace.

I tried to talk to Bethany.  No response. She was angry with me. By listening to me, she violated her conscience. I knew in my heart she was right. I led her down a path she did not want to take.

Leo Tolstoy once said we should fear all that is not accepted by our conscience. Bethany’s actions against her conscience scared her. At the time, I didn’t understand it. I was motivated by own selfish actions and a lack of patience. In this case, coercing her into doing something she knew was wrong made me the worst of offenders. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and fix it, but I can do better in the future. Hopefully, I will have the wisdom when confronted with the next obstacle.

Photo by Tan Kaninthanond on Unsplash

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