Last night, I was running late to a lecture after a looong day. I reluctantly hailed a cab, cursing myself for not leaving early enough to ride the subway. “Bowery and 1st, please.” The driver scowled and said something my deaf ears couldn’t hear, so I did my usual nod-and-smile routine as he took off. As he turned down 6th street, major construction took up the Bowery, causing a traffic jam all the way to China.
Yep, definitely going to be late. Very late. A ride that should have cost under five was about to shoot up to the double digits as he started turning all over the place, taking the scenic route to my destination. “WHERE are YOU GOING?” slipped from my lips before I could swallow the words down. He started throwing his hands wildly (yes, while driving..welcome to New York) and said in his thick Jamaican accent, “I told you there’s a traffic jam there, you crazy woman!”
By that point, I could feel the steam coming out of my ears. “If you KNEW there’s a traffic jam, you should have turned on first street.” Whoops, that hit a nerve. He turned the steering wheel sharply, whipping to the curb. “Don’t tell me where to go woman. I know what I’m doing, this is my cab…” He jammed his finger into the meter, which what just read $5.00 magically jumped to $7.00. I had bitch mouth diarrhea by that point. “SIR (aka asshole), the meter was JUST 5.50 and now it’s $7.00, this is fucking ridiculous.” Jesus, Moses, and Buddha Desirée…you’re goin’ crazy town.
As soon as those words left my mouth, I realized, yes, it was ridiculous. Here I was, fighting with this poor cabbie because I was too unorganized to be on time, creating unnecessary stress and taking it out on the first person I could. A knife was driving into my heart and I was the one holding the handle, thinking it was really him.
I opened my wallet and found Mr. Hamilton sitting there all by himself. As I handed over the ten dollar bill, I took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry”, which felt harder to do than curing cancer.
Clad in heels, I began to run down The Bowery, past the construction, past the honking cabs, past the happy hour drunks. My thoughts raced just as fast: how many other situations have I pointed the finger at someone else, completely blind to the three fingers pointing back at me?
As much as we like to blame others for our problems, there’s enough war going on in the world that we don’t need to fight unnecessary battles. Learning to slow down, even if just for a fraction of a second, makes those moments where catching a glimmer of how things are really arising possible and gives us space to change our animalistic impulse reactions in situations. Maybe we’ll laugh at ourselves for how silly we’re acting instead of cursing the cab driver. Maybe we’ll give our boyfriend or girlfriend a hug instead of calling them an asshole or psycho bitch. Maybe we’ll have patience with our parents rather than hanging up on them when they give us advice for the umpteenth time. Maybe we’ll have patience with ourselves rather than beating ourselves up any chance we get. Maybe we’ll learn to slow down enough to see that we’re writing the story—not the other way around.