On a foggy day on Highway 99 last week, I was stuck behind an accident.
The traffic was at a standstill and the fog made it eerily quiet, yet peaceful. Since God had stopped time for me, I took the opportunity to look around at the people in the cars beside me.
To my right, was a guy with dark hair graying at the temples. He appeared to be in his late 40’s wearing his button-down, white dress shirt and tie. He was on the phone talking animatedly, waving his hand in the air, and sometimes running it through his hair. I couldn’t tell if he was dealing with a personal issue or closing a big deal, but I could almost feel his blood pressure elevating.
I glanced back to the car on my left. At first, I thought it was just one woman in the car. She had short hair and was wearing a hoodie. She had on no makeup that I could see, and she looked like she was in her mid 30s. As I watched her, I realized she was talking into the rear view mirror. I turned around and saw a toddler behind her, buckled up in his car seat. I guessed she was talking to him to keep him entertained while the traffic was stopped. There is nothing worse than a screaming toddler when you are stuck in traffic.
Finally, I looked at the couple in the car a little ahead of me. The guy was in his late 20s, had a shaved head and was wearing sunglasses. He was clearly suffering from road rage and did not appreciate being stuck in traffic. He kept looking into his rear-view mirror, craning his neck to try to look around the cars, and smacking the steering wheel from time to time. He was saying something while he was doing this — probably complaining.
The girl next to him was my favorite. She was pretty, her hair was long and curly, and she had on a lot of makeup with a low-cut sweater. She had her head turned and was staring out the window into the fog. She had a thoughtful look on her face — maybe she was remembering something from her past, or wishing she was on a tropical island instead of stuck in the fog, or maybe she was just wondering why she was with such a jerk.
Suddenly, she glanced at me and caught me watching her. I gave her a little shrug and a smile that said, “Sorry, I am staring, but I have nothing else to do.” She nodded slightly and smiled back. She turned her head back to stare into the fog again.
As I looked around at these people, it occurred to me that I have been every single one of them at one time or another in my life.
I was the guy in my 20s so impatient to get where I wanted to go.
I was the mom in my 30s, talking calmly to my babies and singing to them in the rear-view mirror.
I was the driven business man in my 40s trying to close the big deals.
Today, well today, I am the woman looking out the window. I am happy I can use a little break in the hustle and bustle of life to look around and actually see what is around me, watch people, and maybe learn a little something in the process. Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives that we can’t see outside the car. We think everything important is in our own little space in the world.
That is not true. There is so much more, just outside our space, just outside our car. Seeing things this way makes our problems seem smaller somehow and gives us the perspective we all need in life.
I figured God must have put these people beside me in the fog for a reason so I said a little prayer that He would bless them. Small thing — but the only thing I could do for those people I would never see again.
It was my way of doing a random act of kindness for random people stuck beside each other on the 99 on a foggy day in January. I hope you look outside the car today, realize that your problems are not as big as you think they are, and see that the world is beautiful and full of interesting people.