Lifestyle

Molly Fisk: Glass Houses

2841505578_6a64dcbef5_zPhoto by Daily Marauder via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Yesterday, I looked at a street sign and decided to disobey it. I don’t know what came over me — I was late meeting a friend for dinner, but not enough to matter. The road seemed quite empty. It wasn’t dusk yet but the light had softened, something that often makes me feel as though everything’s going to be alright.

So I turned left in front of the No Left Turn sign pulling out of a gas station, and was immediately in trouble. A car came in on my left wanting to make the light, but I was in the way. Another came around the corner on my right and began to accelerate, which is what you do at this intersection. And a truck materialized at the post office exit right in front of me, a large black apparition ready to pull into the spot I was aiming for.

I threw up my hands, mouthed “I’m sorry!!!” and while they all waited, scowling, I finished the turn and went on my way. I didn’t patch out and I didn’t drive at a snail’s pace either. I proceeded normally, as if nothing had ever been wrong and I was a perfectly excellent driver. Like many miscreants before me, when the truck zoomed past I did not turn my head to see if he was cursing.

 After I got home from dinner, driving exactly the speed limit the whole way in penance, I turned on my computer. All over social media there were photos of a white Cadillac Escalade literally on top of an Audi parked on the main street of my town. The Audi had smashed into a VW which in turn had rear-ended a Mercedes, and all of this had happened on a hill, but facing up the hill, which means there had to have been some speed involved. Along with photos, people had posted video from several different angles of a tow truck winching the Escalade sideways and upright to get it back on solid ground.

When I made my bone-headed left-turn decision, I wasn’t drunk or high. I wasn’t even tired. I was feeling inconvenienced, since to obey the exit signs no matter how I did it was going to take me blocks out of my way. I had the common American delusion that posted signs don’t always apply to me. It was lucky the three drivers I blockaded had good reflexes and weren’t texting anybody.

I hear the toddler in the Escalade wasn’t hurt, and the crunched conga line of empty parked cars didn’t hit anyone on the sidewalk. The driver, also unharmed, was taken in on a DUI. Lots of righteousness flew around on social media, in which, needless to say, I did not take part. I may be dumb enough to disobey street signs, but I’m not so dumb as to think I should then offer anyone else driving advice.

Humans are made up mostly of water, stardust, and self-involvement. Our main lifetime recreation is making mistakes. Even if you’ve never once done anything wrong — and pardon me while I raise an eyebrow — it really is tempting Fate to cast the first stone.

 

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  • Molly Fisk April 30, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks, everyone — I think it’s important to be honest about who we are: the good, the bad, and the terrifying. You don’t have to write or talk about it publicly, the way some of us do, but you need to know and admit it to yourself. I appreciate that my piece today caught your attention and I’m glad you responded.

    Reply
  • Shirley April 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    It takes a big person to reveal a weak moment to an unknown number of readers. Most of us have them and do things that aren’t “by the book.” By candidly talking about your experience, you make us aware of how easy it is to slip and the possible tragic results. We all need to be reminded from time to time!

    Reply
  • Betsy Mandell April 30, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I love the first two sentences of your last paragraph. “Humans are made up mostly of water, stardust, and self-involvement. Our main lifetime recreation is making mistakes. Just what I needed to hear. Thanks

    Reply
  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. April 30, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for visiting and commenting. It Would be wonderful to hear more about the work you do.

    As a doctor I share your concerns about how so many Americans make bad health choices: eating too much, eating bad foods, drinking too much, refusing to exercise, wanting a pill to take away most symptoms…but I hope that I am compassionate and understand that none of us can end a day without a review of a few things that we did that adversely affected our health…physically or emotionally.

    Here at womensvoicesforchange.org we feel safe to share our mistakes with other humans who themselves make mistakes…hoping that with reflection and sometimes humor we can all be better at living life a bit more thoughtfully the next day.

    Dr. Pat

    Reply
  • susan mikolasy April 30, 2016 at 10:09 am

    i am a firefighter. i just don’t get choices to hurt others. i am always saddened to see an innocent killed or maimed or families changed forever by another. this act of selfishness with no regard for others while driving is taken so lightly. did you set out this morning and kiss your kids or husband or mother and say i love you? did you also say … i want you to know today i am going to do something selfish and stupid because i am impatient.

    yes i understand human means making mistakes and learning from them. but humans have choices. don’t take lightly running a red light or taking an illegal left turn or speeding in a 55 zone or in a residential neighborhood. there are reasons for signs. not just made up inconveniences. be selfish somewhere else but on the road driving.

    driving is a privilege. honor others on the road. drive defensively. make the right choice.

    thank you for sharing your story. spend a day at your 911 center. it will be eye opening.

    Reply
  • Molly Fisk April 30, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Isn’t it a sweet conjunction that as our bodies and reflexes and eyesight age, our brains become smart enough to compensate? At least most of the time? And at least in my case, without having caused anyone bodily harm? I’m still embarrassed enough to blush when I go past that No Left Turn sign, and it’s not a hot flash, believe me… 😉 Happy good morning and enjoy your coffee.

    Reply
  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. April 30, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Dear Molly,

    As we age, it becomes more and more important that we follow the rules of the road and focus focus focus. I always had a heavy foot, driving like mad from a suburb outside NYC into the city to be in the hospital before my patient in labor arrived. I still have the temptation to put the pedal to the medal but work hard to obey those speed limits..even though I do believe those signs are for “other drivers”.

    Thanks for the best way to get up and out on Saturday morning: Coffee with Molly.

    Pat

    Reply