I have a condition called Windshield Identification Blindness which means, for some reason, I not only can’t identify drivers through their windshields, I can’t tell if they’re motioning me to move forward or giving me the finger. This leads to awkward social situations where I wave at people I don’t know or sit in my car doing nothing while someone is waving me on.
Yesterday, I was pulling out of my driveway and a car coming up the street just stopped. Right in the middle of the road. Even though I had not even gotten to the end of my driveway. Because of my windshield blindness, I couldn’t figure out what the driver was doing and I couldn’t see if he or she (gender blindness too, apparently) was motioning me to continue out of my driveway or just busy checking text messages.
So, we both just sat there. And waited.
Finally, I decided that the driver wanted me to continue pulling out even though he or she had the right of way, according to the rules I learned in Driver’s Ed, and should have continued up the street instead of stopping for me. After I pulled out, the other car followed me. So, clearly, he or she was not checking text messages but had stopped for me to pull out of my driveway.
For the rest of my trip, I complained to my wife about “idiot drivers who don’t know the rules of the road.”
Had I remembered the lesson I learned earlier that day, I would have taken a different stance on the whole stopping-in-the-middle-of-the-road ordeal.
You see, a man in my church spoke about a situation in his life a few years ago when his son was arrested on murder charges. The trial took over two years to conclude and the charges were eventually dropped. However, it took a devastating toll on the entire family. Yet, I never knew what he was going through. And had I encountered him during this time, I would have assumed that everything was just fine.
How often do we jump to an incorrect conclusion about someone else because we have not taken the time to better understand them and their situation?
My faith teaches me to treat others with love and without judgement. And yet, stop in the middle of the street and I will judge you. Give me poor customer service and I will judge you. Critique my humor and I will definitely judge you.
We never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. But when we take the time to understand, we often see the person differently. When we see the person differently, we treat them differently. Now that I think about it, the person in my neighborhood was probably just trying to be nice. Imagine that.
It only takes a minute to understand. And a minute of understanding is much better than even a few seconds of judgement.