We happen to live in an area which, after a torturous winter, requires massive amounts of road work. Despite the throngs of curmudgeons who colorfully and consistently complain about this process, it’s like Groundhog’s Day …it follows the same script every year.
People complain in the winter about all the snow on the roads. Then they complain because the snow plow pushes snow into their driveways. Then they complain because the snow, the plows and the salt damage the roads. Then they complain, spring through summer, about the annual pothole-a-thon.
THEN they complain that the process required to fix the potholes is cramping their style: holding up traffic, closing bridges and streets, generally ruining everyone’s life. Facebook tells me that no one is ever satisfied. Ever.
Talk about first -world problems.
I live near a bridge that sported several behemoth craters requiring fixing. As such, it was closed for a few days, but there’s an alternate bridge less than 1/8 of a mile away. And yet … people were outraged. Here’s what brings out the worst behavior in homo sapiens: not separating children from their parents at a ubiquitous border, but potholes, road closings and going out of business sales.
Because the bridge was closed, we had to “detour” onto the other bridge, resulting in a bit of small-town snarled traffic. I thought, everyone is local folk, surely, they’ll be neighborly and let a few cars cut in front of them here and there. I mean, it’s just a tiny, but generous, maneuver to make.
Not even a little. I sat in that line, awaiting a kind driver to let me nudge in front of them, and it just did not happen. Twenty minutes later, I finally had the opportunity to cross the bridge, and by that time, I completely forgot where I was going. Where was I going, people? Out of my bloody mind, that’s where. I was so disgusted, I did an illegal U-turn and headed back to where I felt the safest: in my bedroom with the air conditioning on super-duper high, with a bowl of stale Cheetos and a warm ginger ale before me. I had to recover from the traffic-choked unkindness of the Village People.
As I was in that line, all I could think about was how uncharitable human beings sometimes tend to be in these situations. I thought, allowing me to sneak in front of them would inconvenience them 1/1,000,000,000 of their life. It costs nothing to be kind. Nothing. And yet … here we are. In a country where the worst behavior I’ve ever witnessed in my AARP lifespan is not only being tolerated but applauded. It saddens me, and it maddens me.
My friend/boss, David, introduced me to a fabulous UK performer: Frank Turner, who sings a gorgeous song called Be More Kind.
“In a world that has decided
That it’s going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind
They’ve started raising walls around the world now
Like hackles raised upon a cornered cat
On the borders, in our heads
Between things that can and can’t be said
So, before you go out searching
Don’t decide what you will find
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.”
So simple. Start small. Pay for the coffee of the person in front of you. Open the door for the person behind you. Help out a veteran, pay a stranger’s overdue library fine, bestow a gentle word upon a harried human. And, for the love of God, when you see a red-faced, hot-flash enrobed, menopausal, crazy blonde woman in a lane of waiting traffic, let her in! Her broom won’t take up much room, and you have done the universe a solid.
Be more kind.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at [email protected]