Coming back from South Haven toward Ark City on a bright summer day, I found myself driving in a short line of cars. A half dozen of us, well-spaced, made our way from A toward B at a rate not exceeding the speed limit, at least for the time being. A few vehicles making their way from B toward A moved toward us at a similar rate of speed on a long straight flat just a few miles east of I-35. This is not a math problem…
Without obvious reason, the car leading our line suddenly slowed. Being the third driver back in this particular pack, I thought a reciprocating deceleration on my part might be a good idea. The idea of avoiding impact has been a long-standing concept that I have practiced faithfully over the nearly fifty years of my legal driving career. There were one or two failures to accomplish the goal but I still find it a worthy ideal.
After the oncoming vehicles had passed, our lead driver swerved over into their lane and I saw the reason for the almost-stop-in-the-middle-of-the-road maneuver: a huge strip of blown out truck tire lay across our side of the road, nearly covering the whole lane. Several other large chunks of tread and tire scattered nearby, creating a rather significant road hazard.
While the cars in front of me played follow the leader, I flipped on my turn signal and pulled onto the conveniently wide and flat shoulder. I moved the shift lever into park and activated the emergency flashers. In less than a minute, I’d moved all of the blowout components off the road. As I lugged the seven-foot-long strip over and folded it onto the grass it occurred to me that this might be more than just making the trip a bit more convenient for those who would follow.
Originally I just figured on helping the eastbound folks have an easier trip: no huge tire pieces to dodge, no sudden slamming on the brakes, no taking a loud and unpleasant thump to the undercarriage. I realized that it was possible that I could be preventing a serious accident. Everyone so far had avoided incident but what if someone came upon that particular pile of rubbish a bit unawares? What if someone was really into absorbing the scenery of south central Kansas? What if some driver was reaching down for another French fry? What if—no matter how far-fetched it seems—someone was texting while driving? Any of those folks, suddenly seeing a rather ominous looking obstruction in their lane, might suddenly find themselves doing something very unhealthy in a possibly panicked over-reaction. Their over-reaction could set off a chain reaction of events with life-altering implications.
Okay, so maybe, I just saved folks a few seconds and made their day more pleasant by moving the road rubbish out of the way. But if some small inconvenience on our part makes things better for other folks, isn’t it worth doing?
Might be some way to apply that concept to my work life, my neighborhood, my kitchen…