Honking Horns

We were heading home from a grocery store. The kids and I had ventured off base on a rather blustery day (we’ve been watching Winnie the Pooh lately) in search of some more fresh fish for our Good Friday dinner. We actually had a great time at the store. John and Rosie did well and didn’t pull one another’s hair too often. Clare giggled and cooed at all the right moments when friendly shoppers stopped us to cluck and her and comment on how I must have my hands full. We played with the scales in the produce department, John and Rosie guessing how much different items would weigh, much to the delight of one store worker stocking onions. We even remembered to find little chocolates to put in the middle of our soon-to-be-made rice krispy treat Easter eggs (I decided decorating hard boiled this year was inviting unnecessary angst and stress this year so we are opting for a more toddler/young child friendly version).

Everything was going well. On our way home, we stopped at a red light and were planning on turning right. The cars across from us had a green left turn so we were obviously waiting before proceeding even though a right on red was perfectly legal. I don’t trust cars turning left to automatically stay in the left lane and sure enough, cars were using both lanes to turn where I wanted to. We were content to wait our turn. No big deal.

Apparently, however, it was a big deal. The car behind us honked. John asked “Oh Mommy, what was that?” I replied that it was a car horn, but I don’t think it was at us since we weren’t doing anything wrong. Then, a few seconds later, a much longer and louder honk occurred and it sounded pretty close by, perhaps even the car right behind us. A few others chimed in as well – there was a line of 3 or 4 cars all waiting to turn right with us.

No – could they be honking at me? I don’t get honked at, truly. I think I’m a pretty good driver. I don’t speed (much) and living on bases for 4 years has taught me to do a complete stop at every stop sign. I don’t run lights, I do my best not to cut people off. I let pedestrians go first and I almost never forget my turn signal.

Well, the light switched to green and I turned right, staying in the right lane. The car behind me swung around into the left lane and sped past. As the car flew by us, the man driving turned and gave me a dirty look – clearly the impatient and impolite honker. I got so mad!

I was doing the right thing. I was following the rules of the road and keeping everyone safe. I was waiting patiently and not causing a risky situation. What hurt even more was that others joined in that first car. All honking at me, the person doing the right thing. It wasn’t right and it certainly wasn’t fair or just. I said a few things I probably shouldn’t under my breath and drove on, part of me wishing I had followed that car into the parking lot he had to get to in such a rush to make him explain himself.

As we drove home, I cooled off. I started to think about how quickly I let my emotions get out of control. I had just finished explaining to John and Rosie that we were starting a very special time in the Church year and how we remembered when Jesus died and rose for us so we could have eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. He was a good Jew, a good listener, a wise preacher, and a good friend. What happened to Jesus, starting the night after the Last Supper and through to his terrible death was not just. It was not fair. And yet Jesus did not complain. He did not lash out, he didn’t try to run away. Jesus accepted all of the hurt, the pain, the injustice and through his resurrection, transforms them into love, peace, forgiveness and salvation.

I’m not saying that having someone honk their car horn unfairly in your direction is in anyway comparable to the sacrifice of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. However, it is an opportunity to unite yourself in a small way to that sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us. Instead of getting frustrated and upset, I should have remained gracious and peaceful. Yes, the man was in the wrong. But that does not make my reaction right.

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