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Driving Like an Old Man: Actions vs. Motives

My daughters have always made fun of my driving. They say I drive like an old man, slow and careful. I believe there are advantages to driving like an old man. (No, I don’t get a senior discount at Kragen Auto Parts.) One advantage came into focus after my eldest daughter had our first grandchild. Suddenly, both my daughters realized that I am by far the safest driver in the entire family. They became quite vociferous about the aggressive and nerve-wracking driving habits of other adults in the family. In short, if other family members didn’t repent and change their driving habits, grandpa Grady would be the only one allowed to transport the grandchildren by auto. (Without even trying, I have achieved most-favored-grandparent status . . . unfathomable!)

I believe one of the primary sources of bad driving is the spillover of our frenetic society and its selfishness into our driving ecosystem. There is enough anonymity on the highway to allow us to view other drivers as idiots and jerks. In a way, it’s like posting anonymous snarky comments on internet articles. Even though I drive like an old man, I occasionally get irritated at the driving faux pas of others. But when I drive to church and someone I recognize from the congregation cuts me off or tail gates, I bestow grace and let it go. Not so much when I’m out on the open road vying for the best place in traffic among pagans and strangers. (My hypocrisy remains.)

I have often observed drivers, including Christians, cuss out other drivers for traffic blunders then turn around and make the exact same mistake as the person they cussed out a few minutes earlier. Do as I want not as I do, right? Hypocrisy happens with greater frequency when grace is not extended by the person wronged. (Some call it karma . . . but not me.) And by the way, given the abysmal state of driving etiquette in America, it is not a good idea to put Christian bumper stickers and symbols on our cars (unless we drive like Saint Ignatius behind the wheel).

Another explanation for bad driving is the fact that new drivers get training on the mechanics of driving, laws of the road, and basic courtesy. But a deep sense of courtesy can’t be effectively taught in driver’s education courses because it is a character trait a person has been raised with, or not. Driving courtesy is related to the Biblical imperative that we think of others more highly than we think of ourselves . . . even on the road. Still, it’s hard not to judge others harshly and place them below us.

Recently, I read the most intelligent and insightful observation about our flawed methodology when it comes to judging. I wish I could recall the author’s name, but here is the observation: “We judge others based on their actions, we judge ourselves based on our motives.” I’m just sayin.’



FORD_Taunus_17M_P2(TL)_deLuxe_Two_door_1958_Radio_Blaupunkt_Köln (2)I hear nonsensical voices when driving. (They seem to emanate from my car radio.) In fact, the other day I was listening to an uber-cool song on the radio. The song was new to me so I waited with breathless anticipation for the DJ (an archaic term used to describe a radio disc jockey whose job was to play music on vinyl records) to announce the name of the band at the conclusion of the song. Instead, the DJ came on the air and said: “When you hear a really good song on the radio, it is helpful if they tell you the name of the band.” Without naming the band, she went to a commercial. Aaargh! Are you kidding me? Why would the DJ state a problem, for which she has the solution, and not share the piece of information that solves the problem? Call me crazy (after all, I do hear nonsensical voices), but that doesn’t make sense. All she had to do was say the name of the band. She must be cruel, stoned, or blonde. (I hope my blonde wife doesn’t read this.)

OK, I’m finished venting. We all say and do nonsensical things now and then. (One of my in-laws talks a lot of nonsense.) Even I have said and done things that, in hindsight, make me cringe. Fortunately for us, the disciples said some nonsensical things while under the instruction of Christ. (And they were eventually declared saints.) Yes, Christ occasionally got exasperated with his disciples for their obtuse comments, but he NEVER gave up on them. I don’t know about you, but I am extremely grateful for Christ’s long suffering with the nonsense that too often comes out of my mouth. James 1:19 is that verse that cautions us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It’s an excellent antidote to nonsense. And there is certainly a lot of nonsense spoken in the world today.