What kind of image do you present to other people? Are you kind, courteous, and considerate? Most people would probably answer, “I try to be.” Now let me ask it a different way, Are you a courteous and patient driver? Or are you aggressive and impatient? To paraphrase an old expression, does the leopard change his spots? Having lived in Houston, I’ve witnessed many aggressive drivers on the freeway. It would appear some think they are the only ones on the freeway. Consider this story and decide if it could happen to you:
Two cars were waiting at a stoplight. The light turned green, but the man didn’t notice it. A woman in the car behind him is watching traffic pass around them. The woman begins pounding on her steering wheel and yelling at the man to move. The man doesn’t move. The woman is going ballistic inside her car, ranting and raving at the man, pounding on her steering wheel and dash. The light turns yellow. The woman begins to blow the car horn, makes obscene gestures, and scream curses at the man. The man, hearing the commotion, looks up, sees the yellow light and accelerates through the intersection just as the light turns red.
The woman is beside herself, screaming in frustration as she misses her chance to get through the intersection. As she is still in mid-rant she hears a tap on her window and looks up into the barrel of a gun held by a very serious looking policeman.
The policeman tells her to shut off her car while keeping both hands in sight. She complies, speechless at what is happening. After she shuts off the engine, the policeman orders her to exit her car with her hands up. She gets out of the car and he orders her to turn and place her hands on her car. She turns, places her hands on the car roof and quickly is cuffed and hustled into the patrol car. She is too bewildered by the chain of events to ask any questions and is driven to the police station where she is fingerprinted, photographed, searched, booked and placed in a cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approaches the cell and opens the door for her. She is escorted back to the booking desk where the original officer is waiting with her personal effects. He hands her the bag containing her things, and says, “I’m really sorry for this mistake. But you see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, making obscene gestures, and cussing a blue streak at the car in front of you, and then I noticed the “Choose Life” license plate holder, the “What Would Jesus Do” and “Follow Me to Sunday School” bumper stickers, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.”
It certainly would appear the leopard does change his spots behind the wheel. Can you imagine the shame and embarrassment one would feel after such an experience? The story is surely blown out of proportion, but the message is quite clear. I have seen many cars in the Houston area with bumper stickers and window decals with the same words, but the attitude of the driver is certainly not that of asking himself, “What would Jesus do?”
I imagine some of you are thinking that the man at the light was somewhat at fault for not paying attention while behind the wheel, and that is undoubtedly true, but it doesn’t excuse the attitude of the woman. I’ve been guilty of doing something else in the car while waiting for the light to change. A simple tap on the horn from the car behind gets me moving, but I’ve also been caught like the lady was and had to wait for the next light. Was I irritated? Yes. Did I go to the extreme the woman did? No. I think as we grow older and mature more, we tend to save our ranting and raving for something more important.
Did you notice the key word in the story? It’s “Assumed!” The policeman assumed the driver of a car displaying those bumper stickers would also drive with a patient, Christian attitude and was not “bearing false witness.” We should all be thinking about how we present ourselves in all parts of life. How many times do we find ourselves assuming to be something we are not – bearing false witness? I should hope not very often.