On-ramp raceway

Thanks to so many of you who sent in your stories of giving this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Today we close out our brief stopover at the well of compassion with a submission by Marti that in light of our work with Isaiah House and Marti’s passion for the needs of single moms may seem trivial, but you should see her face when I suggest that. It’s a look of a most serious kind: “You have no idea how hard it was to do that!” So here in all its sacrificial glory is Marti’s act of road kindness in her own words. Given her fierce competitiveness and need for speed, it probably was a pretty big deal. We should also remember that they shoot people on L.A. freeways for less than this.

Electronic speed enforcement is not necessary when traveling the Los Angeles freeway system, especially during rush hour. Lane splitting is not allowed, but because the police cannot get to you in stalled traffic, it is rarely enforced. It does not matter how fast your vehicle can go, the only speed for all vehicles is “crawl” with one exception: the freeway on-ramp.

The real road warrior in all of us can show itself on those metered feed-ins that manage the rate of automobiles entering the freeway. While the ramp metering red and green light signals have proven to be successful in decreasing traffic congestion, they have not necessarily contributed to driver safety. That’s because on freeway on-ramps in Los Angeles, for drivers like me, it’s NASCAR race day, every day.

So this particular day, as I finally reached the little signal light that let’s us start down the on-ramp, two at a time, on the only empty stretch of pavement for miles, there was a silent national anthem sung by an invisible grand marshal announcing in my head, “Gentlemen (and women), start your engines!” There are no famous NASCAR names in this race, and the actual distance is short (whoever reaches the stalled traffic first), but I sensed the competitive sneer from the driver next to me, reviving his engine in anticipation of the green light. “Oh, so he thinks  he can take me,” I said to myself as I popped it into neutral and revved mine. “Well he’s got another thing coming.”

“Go!” and we put our proverbial pedals to the metal and raced down the ramp with a burst of acceleration. I got the jump on him off the block and could have won easily had I not thought of the fact that the most difficult act of kindness for me at this juncture, loving speed and winning as I do, would be to pretend my vehicle had stalled, and allow my rival to cross the finish line before me, which he did with a cocky grin, thus taking sole possession of the winner’s circle and making his day. I’ll let him have that one, I thought, smiling, but not the series. That will wait for another time.

It occurs to me that it might be possible, in a situation where much more is at stake, that  the loving thing to do might be to step aside and let someone else win or take the credit. Come to think of it, God does this with us all the time.

The Catch is represented in 168 countries. Help us create a ripple of kindness throughout the world that affects more than we can count.  

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