Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Miracle

A few days ago, I was traveling down the main road near our home when I approached a stop light. On the corner of this particular intersection is a large grocery store whose parking lot has an entrance/exit on to the road I was traveling on. Before I approached the lights, a car exited from this grocery store and proceeded to block several lanes of traffic. This road has about four lanes--one for cars turning left, one for cars turning right and two for cars going straight. The car in question was blocking the left turn lane and one of the straight lanes and had it's headlights pointing in the direction of the second straight lane. It was a bit difficult to tell where this driver was trying to head. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was an elderly woman behind the wheel. I decided that she probably wanted to get over to the right hand turning lane, and had just crept her way out into the traffic waiting for the lights to change and her opportunity to move across. Why else would she be blocking several lanes of traffic. Her position on the road didn't bother me as I was heading straight and she wasn't blocking my path. I merely found the whole thing a bit curious.

The light remained red for a little while and the traffic began to build behind this woman. The car immediately behind her held a young P-Plater who appeared to be in a hurry. He was drumming his steering wheel impatiently. From my angle, I could see the elderly woman was the driver of the car in front of him, I'm not sure he could though. I immediately thought to myself, "I hope this guy doesn't start abusing this old woman for blocking his way." That thought popped into my head so quickly because in Melbourne, the drivers are actually very free wheeling with their abuse of other drivers. Any slight annoyance on the road, and people are honking their horns at you, swearing, making hand gestures. That's one of the first things I noticed when I started driving here. 8 years later, I find I get a bit excitable in traffic as well. Yikes. All these abusive drivers are rubbing off on me.

I'll call Melbourne drivers abusive, but I won't call them rude. If you don't mind being honked and sworn at, they are actually really good about giving way to one another and letting you in on a congested road. That aspect of driving here always impressed me. There are some roads that are so busy you think you'll never get a look in, but then someone waves you in and off you go. It happens all the time.

So what happened to the old woman blocking the traffic with a P-plater hot on her bumper? Nothing, absolutely nothing. I could not believe how restrained this young driver was. He was obviously wishing he could get past this woman, but never once did he honk, swear or scream at her. When the lights turned green, she straightened her car a bit and proceeded straight through the intersection in the "straight" lane she had been blocking. Turns out she didn't want to get over to the right turn lane, she just wanted to go straight. Where did the P-Plater go? Once the way was cleared, he got into the the left turn lane and turned left. Something he could have done several minutes before if she hadn't been in his way. Even so, he'd kept his cool and this little old woman was given the courtesy someone her age deserves. I couldn't believe it really. I thought to myself, "This must be a Christmas miracle." That's how odd it was.

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