Reflection – The Invisible “VAN”

invisible van     Today’s post was written by my friend and former colleague, Tim Conrad. He periodically sends out reflections to his friends and family via email. I wanted to share this particular reflection with you. It is humorous and insightful. So, with Tim’s permission, I am sharing his entire reflection here. Thank you, Tim!

     Driving into work the other day, I was thinking about something that my wife mentioned to me. She claims that our vehicle, our van in particular, is apparently “invisible” and it seems as though everyone is out to “get us”. You see, no matter where we seem to be going, no matter how fast or how slow, it is as if no one can see us. People are constantly pulling out in front of us, either to get to the other side, to change lanes so they can turn from our side of the highway, or just pull out so as not to be behind us. It feels like we need to tap (or slam) on the brakes to avoid a dented fender (at best) or a smashed front end with potential physical injuries (at worst?) every time. What is it that makes our van so unique?
     So, for the next week or so I became more aware than usual of how other people drive. I really wanted to know if my van was invisible! I was the 2nd vehicle in line at a stoplight and glanced at the driver next to me who was fiddling with his radio, the guy in front of him was watching the cars pass by, and the gal in front of me was putting on lipstick. Across the way a young driver was texting on his cell phone, a mother was yelling at her kids, a woman was putting on make-up, and a guy was shaving with his electric razor. Ok, when you witness 6 drivers out of 7 doing something other than driving, does that scare you? More than a little bit? I actually thought that the purpose of driving was to get you to a destination. To get to work, or to school, the shopping mall, or grocery store, something along those lines, not as something you did while you finished (or started?) some other task! Am I crazy? OK, I reasoned that since I observed this all while at the stoplight, maybe it was just their chance to take advantage of the “idle” time while their car wasn’t in motion. Maybe I was getting worked up over nothing.
     Well, as I was waiting at the stoplights in the days since then, I watched the drivers that were passing by in front of me. Well, imagine my surprise when I saw 2-3 more people trying to text while driving, several on cell phones, one trying to read a newspaper balanced on their steering wheel and even one driver with their visor down trying to put on mascara! YIKES! I will admit I saw more folks watching the road when they were moving versus when they were stopped at the red light, but this was more than disturbing. I was on the verge of a panic attack! Are we all really like that?!? Am I!?!
     It was at that moment that I was reminded of the following comment, “There are only two types of drivers on the road, slow-pokes who need to learn how to drive, and crazy drivers that need to watch their speed.” Of course the slow pokes are ALL of those drivers who drive much slower than we are driving, and the crazy drivers are the ones who drive much faster than we are driving.
     Sure enough, the next day I was running late and everyone seemed to be going 10 miles under the speed limit. I reached for my cell phone to call ahead to let them know I was running late. I hit every red light (or so it seemed) and was always waiting on someone to speed up (if I was behind them), or to slow down (if I was trying to cross traffic in front them). In my mind, they were all “idiot” drivers, if you know what I mean. And then it hit me, here I am being an “idiot” driver too!
     And then another thing hit me. People are not out to “get me”, and my vehicle isn’t “invisible”. People (including me) are worried about our own little world, our own little concerns and what we need to get done before we get to wherever it is we are going. We are not thinking about the others that are on the road, or about their concerns or their over-whelming problems. We are thinking almost 100% about ourselves, our task or mission at that moment in time. That really is it, isn’t it? Nothing more. Nothing less.
     But what if that weren’t the case? What if instead we all took our time to get from point A to point B, and worried about others doing the same? What if we were courteous to the other drivers out there ALL the time? What if we all drove within a few miles of the speed limit? What if all drivers’ eyes were on the road and were D-R-I-V-I-N-G instead of applying make-up with electric cell phone shavers wrapped in newspaper articles? I would imagine that most of the “idiot” drivers would disappear. What if WE personally, you and I, were to start being THAT DRIVER. What if we, when we encountered that “idiot”, would say a prayer for them, that they got to their destination safely, along with their passengers, and did no harm to others on the road? What if we, while saying that prayer, imagined that it was us driving too fast because we had a sick child in the back seat, or were told we would be fired if we weren’t at work within the next 10 minutes? What if we imagined that slow driver as our grandfather or grandmother on the way to the grocery store, or as a person lost looking for the turn that they may have missed? What if we, you and I, started to show compassion for those “idiot” drivers? What if…?
     So the next time you are out driving and you sense that the Holy Spirit is tapping you on the shoulder and you suddenly realize you are driving like a “slow-poke” or a “crazy-driver”, don’t be surprised if you see a guy driving a van who seems to be praying for you. Then again, maybe you won’t see him….
     I hope that together we grow in our faith, we help each other in this ultimate adventure, we strive to overcome all of the evil of the world and in the end we triumph as heroes gaining the ultimate reward, heaven.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Conrad


12 thoughts on “Reflection – The Invisible “VAN”

  1. Love the post. I seem to be the invisible Grand Am. As you state, I too see other drivers involved in what seems like everything but driving attentively. Now when all the craziness on the road starts getting me edgy, irritated and uptight, I take a deep calming breath and tell myself I have plenty of time and God on my side to get where I am going. Most of the time I succeed with that! As for the “other drivers?” Well, bless their little hearts!!!

  2. Enjoyed reading this blog. How true Tim’s perception is about people. I call it , “it’s all about me” believe me, ” it is NOT all about me”. We need to be concerned about each other. God Bless!

  3. I will be praying and looking out for your van. It oh so rings true! I always mention to people how my commute down 31 is an adventure. My favorite is the texter driving on ice a couple years back. I thought something might be wrong when observing his vehicle going all over the place. Then when pulling next to him on other lane I saw him texting with both hands on the phone and thought; seriously!
    (on this ice)

    • Yes, I remember the days of travelling up and down 31 very well. I don’t miss the commute at all. Although I do miss you and my other friends at Delphi (or whatever they’re calling it these days.)

  4. My hubby was a construction worker for years and witnessed people on cell phones; eating breakfast ( I kid you not: Bacon and eggs with a slice of toast, on a Correll-ware plate!); getting dressed while driving down the highway; shaving; curling their hair; and even watching TV on a 12″ screen in the PASSENGER seat. One woman was on her cell phone and never noticed the traffic light was red. She drove right into the rear bumper of the car in front of her, then looked up ala ‘who hit me?’ People have forgotten Defensive Driving 101. And that’s just the few which stands out in his memory.

  5. Tim’s vivid description of modern day drivers reminds me of driving on the Dan Ryan express
    through Chicago, or driving north interstate 69 and trying to get off at the Fishers exit during
    peak traffic hours. Many drivers get on the road, become impersonal, and absorbed in their
    own world. It’s like they lose sight of simple courtesies. I’m not a pessimist, but unfortunately
    the world is becoming more and more this way.

  6. Suzanne, thank you! You have humbled me in many ways, not only because you are a gifted writer, but because you requested to share something that I, an engineer wrote; to being what appears to be the first writer (hopefully the first of many others) to be posted on your blog not named Suzanne Purewal; and to inspire me to continue with my writing endeavors with your encouraging feedback.
    To those who have commented, and to those who haven’t, I hope that I have inspired you to think just a little bit about yourself and how you treat others on the road, and that you can take that first step in changing the attitude of others. Think of those who were courteous to you when you were in a rush, or lost, and “Pay it Forward”…as they say.
    God Bless! Tim

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