Warmth, fuzz at 60 MPH

Last Fri­day evening I was alone, dri­ving south on one of South Florida’s fine express­ways, when I had the strangest moment of, for lack of a bet­ter term, empa­thy.

(This is notable because the word with which I would expect myself to have end­ed that sen­tence is “con­tempt.”)

The dri­ver in front of me, pilot­ing a Mit­subishi that was either sil­ver or gold (dif­fi­cult to tell which in the half‐light of the expressway’s over­heard street­lights), wasn’t dri­ving at a pace that was to my lik­ing, so I decid­ed I would pass them. I engaged my turn sig­nal and began merg­ing over to the next lane. They must have sensed, from the amount of time I had spent behind them, that they were not dri­ving at a pace that was to my lik­ing, so at the exact moment I start­ed mov­ing over, they too start­ed mov­ing over in the same direc­tion I was. (Of course, they did so with­out sig­nal­ing,1 which is the South Flori­da Stan­dard.) Just as simul­ta­ne­ous­ly as we began them, we abort­ed our lane changes, as we each noticed the other’s attempt.

It was at this moment that I felt a warm, fuzzy feel­ing, the likes of which I almost nev­er expe­ri­ence while dri­ving down here. In that moment, I became quite aware that there was a per­son dri­ving that Mit­subishi. It’s easy to for­get that the oth­er cars on the road are dri­ven by peo­ple, espe­cial­ly at night when it’s not so easy to see them through their win­dows. But in that driver’s moment of obvi­ous self‐correction, it could not be clear­er.

Also, I will not let it go unsaid: the events that unfold­ed made it clear that the per­son in front of me actu­al­ly looked in their mir­ror before attempt­ing to change lanes! Their care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion only makes me aware that they were at least a bit like me.

Around here, that’s say­ing some­thing.

  1. That’s fine, real­ly. Had they sig­naled and done the oth­er not­ed things, I would not be writ­ing this post, because I would have died that night, from some sort of shock.

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