Introspection and Smoking Steering Wheels

Our youngest son has a job walking a Weimaraner dog on weekdays. Sometimes, I go along with him, with our Lhasa-poo in tow because the dog’s home is near Lake Michigan and there are lots of beautiful places to wander and sights to see. Yesterday was one of those days, and I almost wish it hadn’t been.

It was cold and foggy along the lake, so we decided to wind our way through the neighborhoods instead. It’s fun to look at all the different kinds of houses and gardens — there are some pretty cool ideas out there, some of which we hope to copy over the summer (if it ever gets here). Additionally, it’s a historical neighborhood, and we love history! It was getting late, and we both still had work to finish before supper, so we headed back to the dog’s home. Since Weimaraner’s are big, muscular dogs (especially this one), they need plenty of exercise. Our short-legged Lhasa-poo can’t keep up with the larger dog’s pace, so John usually takes “his” dog ahead at a more rapid gait on the last leg of our journey.

John was about a block ahead of me and just coming up on a quaint little violin shop in the neighborhood. As he was crossing the street from my side to the violin shop’s side, an irate middle-aged man stomped out of the shop, jumped in his car, slammed it into reverse and sped backwards without even looking. John and the Weimaraner were directly behind the car! John yelled and pounded the back hatch of the car, the Weimaraner fought to keep his legs out from under the vehicle and…the guy just kept going. John leapt out of the way as fast as he could, pulling the dog with him. A woman waiting at the corner’s stop sign laid on her horn and tried to get the angry driver’s attention. Someone – I don’t know who – shouted at him. He was oblivious to anything but his anger.

Suddenly, he stomped on the brakes, and I thought he was going to get out and apologize. Instead, he threw the gear in forward, raced into a U-turn, nearly hitting an oncoming car, and then sped through the stop sign, nearly hitting another car head on. He never looked, never slowed down, never seemed to notice that there was anyone else around. All he saw was his anger.

Thanks be to God, John was fine, albeit a little shook up, the dog escaped harm and is so easy-going he could not have cared less, and the other cars avoided impact.

Because I was so far back, I was unable to do anything to help the situation. My own shouts wouldn’t have been heard, and I was at the wrong angle to see the license plates in order to call the police. When I saw the car backing toward John, all I could muster was, “Guardian! Where are you!” in hopes John’s Guardian Angel would hear me. Then I petitioned the Guardians of the other folks involved. Obviously, they heard, and it was God’s will that they protect everyone, including the outraged driver.

The nasty side of me wished the driver would have at least nicked another vehicle (empty, preferably) so that he would be shocked into realizing the danger he was causing. But, that wasn’t in God’s plan. Truthfully, the guy was so consumed by his fury that I doubt he’d have noticed if he had struck someone or something else.

“Somebody should teach that guy a lesson!” I fumed. “How can people get away with stuff like that?”

The temptation of accusing God of not doing his job was great, but I know better. God was doing his job — he always does his job, unceasingly, flawlessly — and in this case his job included letting the smoking steering wheel villain go without consequence. Certainly, he has something wiser in store for that man. I think God’s “job” yesterday also included the effect the near-accident had on those who witnessed it. We all saw what uncontrolled anger can do to a person — and to other persons who get in his or her way. Likely, this will get us all considering how we handle our own anger; I know it did for me. How many times have I backed up a little too quickly or jerked away from a stop sign because I was agitated by something? Or closed a door more forcefully than it should have been? Pounded my fist on the table because something didn’t go my way? There are plenty of ways we all let our anger get the best of us, allowing it to affect others. The incident with the angry driver has encouraged me to resolve to get my anger before it gets me.

I thank God for the safety of my son, for the safety of the others on the scene, for vigilant Guardian Angels, and for the opportunity to do some serious introspection.

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic wife, mother, author, columnist, and speaker. She’s a frequent contributor to a number of Catholic publications and websites and is a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life and has touched the hearts of audiences in a variety of venues. Her latest book is Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Maria Press, 2013).
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