If you drive a vehicle,
If you have driven for more than a day,
If you drive anywhere near other drivers,
Then you have experienced ROAD RAGE! It’s this bizarre phenomenon where every human, no matter what your enneagram type, experiences intense emotions toward another human being due to their horrible driving etiquette. The quiet and demure become savage animals. Preachers become Rappers. Moms become sailors.
Or maybe it’s just a place, time, and event that allows the darkness we hide deep in our souls to rise to the surface, like hitting the release valve on a pressure cooker. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, whatever the consequence, it’s real and it’s only a matter of time before we all have our Road Rage stories to share. Here’s Michael’s story…
Backstory: Michael suffers from chronic back pain AFTER having two major back surgeries. He has more hardware in his back than my junk drawer holds.
It happened on the day he was scheduled to have a Spinal Cord Stimulator installed into his spine. Siri sums up this device as an implantable neuromodulation device…used on people who have a pain condition that has not responded to more conservative therapy. Basically it’s an electronic device implanted in the spine that interrupts pain signals to the brain. If the brain doesn’t get the pain signal, then the person doesn’t have pain. Interesting concept, huh?!?
Michael was put under anesthesia, the paddle was installed in his spine, and when he woke up, the stimulator was having a profound and unexpected response in his feet. Still hopeful that the signals would settle down and reduce the chronic and unbearable pain in his back, he was sent home with instructions for the “trial period.” So, he kind of traded his back pain in for feet pain for the day. Traveling home in tears (common for chronic pain sufferers), his driver stopped at a convenient store for water (anesthesia can wreak havoc on your body and extreme thirst is fairly common).
As the car slowly turns into the store, Michael hears some yelling through his open window. It’s obvious by the shouts that some kind of drama was playing out between two men in the parking lot. One man in a truck at the gas pump and the other securing his motorcycle helmet to his bike. Michael was unable to make out the details of their argument, but it was obvious that this argument began somewhere back on the highway and was about to play out right here, right now.
Imagine the sight of poor Michael if you will…a grown man with a completely shaven head, just out of surgery, tears streaming down his face, pain in his feet that he cannot escape from and slumped down in agony in his front passenger seat. He begins to roll down the window. His driver begs him not to get involved in the altercation that is happening right beside them. Ignoring the driver’s pleas, Michael motions with his hand for the guy on the motorcycle to come over to the car. Barely able to speak at normal volume, Michael attempts a second time to get this guy’s attention with his hand signaling. Finally, Biker Dude sees Michael’s hand and surprisingly allows the distraction from the fight and walks over to the open window. Michael tries to speak, but the pain only allows a whisper to come out. Biker Dude leans in and Michael tries again to bypass his pain and tears to say, “what would Jesus do?” The leather jacket, biker boot wearing tough guy pauses and his face drops. He stands in this place for some time like a cell phone waiting for a signal. Then he looks up. He sees the trucker walking into the store and follows him.
Biker Dude walks into the convenient store door, looks around and finds his opponent standing in line at the register. Trucker Dude makes eye contact with Biker Dude, squares his shoulders and prepares for confrontation. Biker Dude walks right up to Trucker Dude and holds out his hand. “Dude, I’m sorry.” Trucker Dude, taken completely off guard, hesitated but finally relented and shook Biker Dude’s hand.
Two minutes later, Biker Dude comes back out of the store, walks over to Michael and says, “you know I lead worship in my church. I play the guitar. I sing about the gospel and it never occurred to me until you said that, what would Jesus do.”
Michael had plenty of reasons in that moment to keep to himself, to ignore the drama, maybe even to just observe and watch it all play out like a train wreck, like some sort of sick entertainment. But that wouldn’t be Michael to have any of those responses. He did what he is trained to do, influence the situation by being the light. Those guys don’t know Michael’s name or anything else about Michael for that matter, because that’s not the point.
Michael gave Biker Dude a choice. Biker Dude chose. Biker Dude chose to Just Flip the Script. The rest is history.