I was going out into a storm.
It was a couple of weeks ago that I left for work on one of those slushy mornings that have characterized our winter – the ones that remind you of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Slip Slidin’ Away.” I would have stayed home, but duty called.
Now, Ottawa is not a big place, but when it decides that it wants to flex its muscles, we have traffic jams that would rival Montreal and Toronto. Bad accidents are not uncommon. This particular morning was one of those. Even as I left later than usual to let traffic subside, I needed to take a secondary route into town to avoid any craziness.
I am not typically a nervous driver, but already I have seen enough accidents in Ottawa that I was being careful…. like REALLY careful…. maybe TOO careful even.
When I got into the center of town (corner of Elgin and Laurier just over the Shaw bridge), I needed to make a wide left turn. At the light to my left was a rather large cargo van. And then I started to worry because if he started to slide (like I had already seen that morning – trucks are heavy after all) then that meant sliding into me. Big van – small car – not good.
That’s when I started to be too careful. Because frankly, I didn’t trust the guy next to me. I took the turn way wider than I should have meaning that I started to slide, right at the snow bank!
I probably called enough attention to myself to give other drivers pause. Fortunately I was not going so fast that I was not to be able to bring the car under control. So when I straightened out, the only thing dented was my ego.
As I made it to the next light, now heading south on Elgin, who catches up to me but the guy driving the cargo van. His arms are waving, and he’s giving me the thumbs up over and over. Big silly grin on his face. I remember because I could see it under his mustache. I cringed, trying to look straight ahead, not really wanting to get into it with him.
The light changed and we advance to the next intersection only to, you guessed it, find ourselves side by side again. Right on cue he starts up again.
And so it was clear that there was no getting away from facing the music. I lowered my window. He lowered his. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I blurted out trying to preempt an outburst of difficult words.
“No, no,” he replied. “I’ve been trying to tell you that was some great driving to avoid an accident and to say thank you.” Mic drop. I almost did a double take. Then I burst out laughing.
“I’m from Quebec. People pop off on the roads all the time. I was sure we were headed for a case of road rage.” He laughed back. “Nah. I would never do that. Great job. Have a great day!”
And off he went…
You just never know when life will remind you in gentle ways that the Spirit is alive and well, even as the world ignores it. Praise God.
Be blessed. Be a blessing.
Rev. Eric Lukacs