I’m not a jerk. Well, I try my very best to avoid exhibiting jerkish behavior, but like all human beings (and some cats) it just slips. I’m positive, beyond positive, that at least one of you read the title of this post and thought, “AHA! She’s finally going to admit to that rude/insensitive/horrible/not funny thing she said/did last week about/to me!”
Spoiler alert: I’m not, because I’m not a jerk.
Before Miles, my morning commute ended with heading westbound on a side street, then turning left onto the street in front of our building. It’s important to know that I wrote, rewrote, revised and edited a description of this simple turn four times before realizing that even I couldn’t understand my own thoughts. Instead, I’ve created a helpful diagram:
It’s also important to know that my skill level with MS Paint is negative eleventy million, and that while I am not impressed with this diagram, I am not spending another 45 minutes on a picture of a street and a stop sign. DO NOT POINT OUT MY TYPO, EITHER. Did I just sound like a jerk?
I digress. So, from this vantage point, each morning I was heading UP the street, and turning left. And every morning, there would be some jerkface at that stop sign, rolled waaay out in the intersection, preparing to turn left and head west. I would think to myself, “Holy cow, man…can you wait until I turn before you barrel out into the morning in search of donuts and coffee?!” I’m a stickler for vehicular courtesy. This small intersection was full of jerks.
Nearly every morning, I would slowly roll past the driver waiting at the stop sign. I’d give an evil glare; sometimes a, “Boy, aren’t you impatient?!” look. On my best mornings, I would come to a near stop and just stare at them. Jerks.
After Miles, my morning route changed slightly, and instead of heading westbound (up) on the side street, I now head eastbound (down). This means that in the afternoons, instead of turning right when leaving the office, I’m turning left, toward his school. Does it seem like a big deal? Probably not, but here’s the thing…this change in direction brought a change in perspective. On my first day traveling this new route, I became the jerk. I was now the one turning left. And on my first time turning left, I found that my entire view of traffic heading in the direction I wished to turn was blocked because of an enormous palm tree.
I was now forced to inch my way out into the road. Waaay out into the road, actually.
The first time this happened and another driver was turning onto my street, they looked at me like I was an asshole. In that instant I realized two things: first, that I hated palm trees, and second, that the people I had always assumed were just jerkface drivers weren’t actually jerks at all. All of my glaring, staring, eye rolling, finger wagging was pointless. Those people were rolling out into the road for a reason (and that reason is the irresponsible foliage at the Elks Lodge).
And now, I really felt like a jerk. Those people I thought were jerks actually weren’t jerks at all; it was just my perception.
You can almost guarantee that you’ll meet someone who seems unpleasant at least once a week (and even that is probably an understatement) but it’s important to remember they might not really be as heinous as you think, and sometimes we’re judged as being jerks when it’s not our intention. It’s quite possible that the assumed jerk just had a bad day, or a terrible lunch, or an itchy ant bite. Or a stupid palm tree blocking their view.
I will no longer judge (all) drivers on their seeming lack of ability (okay, I might judge some snowbirds). And I can recognize this reminder of what I’m actually supposed to be doing each day, instead of getting ticked off: just be nice.
Only a jerk when I’m out of coffee (or wine or chocolate or hummus or moisturizer),