There have been countless times when I shook my head in disbelief at the terrible driving of someone on the road with me. But what I saw today has to top my list of misbehavior behind the wheel.
I was returning home from a specialty shop in town that had converted an old film slide of my grandparents in the 1960s into a photo, as well as printing up pictures from some 70-year-old film negatives of what I thought were World War II pictures of one of my uncles. The picture of my grandpa and grandma came out magnificent, but the pictures from negatives turned out to be of unknown soldiers, which was a bit disappointing. As I drove home, I mulled over where to put this newly-acquired picture of my grandparents.
While waiting at a red light, the cross-traffic (which had the green light) was a long funeral procession. First the window-darkened funeral home car with blinking lights slid slowly through the intersection, then a hearse, then a car that presumably carried the immediate family, then what looked like another hearse, then a long string of regular cars. Each vehicle had a bright orange flag on its front hood that read “funeral”. The streetlight turned red for the cross traffic, but since it was a funeral caravan, they were legally allowed to continue going through the intersection in order to stay together.
Everyone on my side of the intersection plus the opposite side of the intersection stayed put even through the light was green, and waited for the funeral folks to pass. Everyone except a jerk in a pick-up truck in the lane next to me. He pressed on his gas pedal and started through the intersection, nearly hit one of the cars. The car and truck both screeched to a halt. The truck should have realized he was wrong by them and let the cars continue to cross first, but instead he sped up again, cutting off the funeral car. How rude! I thought.
When the chain of cars was finally through the intersection, I was able to turn left. As they were driving in a slow, somber line, I caught up with them, and ended up riding in the lane next to then as they headed for the cemetery. The sadness and pain inside each car oozed out at me. I remembered what it was like several years ago, as we were riding to the cemetery to bury my father. Our funeral director had actually said they usually don’t put funeral flags on every car, as it has a tendency to cause traffic accidents. Now I know what he meant!
But really, I thought, everyone is taught when they take drivers ed or study for a driving permit, that you always, always yield to ambulances, police cars and fire trucks with their lights on, as well as to funeral processions that have the designated flags on their cars. Aren’t they still taught that? Obviously, a funeral procession doesn’t have the same urgency as a vehicle rushing to a fire or to a person who is having a heart attack. But the law is in place because our society supposedly knows to show respect to a bereaved family on the way to bury their dead. What is SO urgent that you need to bust through a procession clearly on their way to the cemetery? The next time you have to wait for an ambulance or a fire truck or a funeral line of cars, instead of being impatient, say a prayer for the people that people that are riding in those vehicles. It costs nothing to show a little respect and kindness to your fellow man.