Living together in a sea of brake lights.Posted: April 20, 2012
If you live in Atlanta, you know that traffic is a horrible, twisted mess. Every morning and afternoon, we come together to commune in a sea of brake lights and a fog of exhaust. This is a ritual in Atlanta and probably your town also.
The unique thing about traffic is that, like life, we are all in it together. We may be strangers but in these moments we share the same burden.
Oddly enough, I tend to see the same people as a drive to work everyday. We are on the same journey together. I don’t know their names or what they do but I have a big imagination. Let me introduce you to them:
There’s the couple in my rear view mirror. They sit in an old blue pick up truck with the loud engine. The man in the drivers seat looks to be in his late forties. He looks like a Glenn, so that’s what I named him.
His dark brown hair is neatly combed. He has a pencil thin mustache that’s starting to grey. His face is narrow and tan. His skin is leathery, as if he has been smoking a pack a day for the past thirty years. He sits there attentively, with one bony hand on the steering wheel and the other around his wife in the passenger seat.
Her name is Susan. She is bigger than Glenn and a few years younger. She has a round, pink face and her curly brown hair is wrapped in a pony tail. She wears a pink shirt with blue spots. One of those nursing shirts. She probably works at a pediatricians office.
From my view in the mirror, Susan’s mouth never stops moving. She faces Glenn the whole time and whatever she has to say is important. But Glenn doesn’t seem to mind the chatter. During the one sided conversation, he smiles and nods his head. He hangs on her every word and every now and then he strokes her shoulder, sympathizing with her concerns and sharing her joy.
“These two really love each other.” - I think to myself. And since they are with each other, traffic is an afterthought.
To my right is a young african american man driving a compact car. I call him Eric. I recognize him by the tattoo on the side of his neck and his dark sunglasses.
Eric has a detached look on his face. He’s deep in thought. That hint of a smile tells me that he’s having a pretty good day.
Maybe he is thinking about his daughter. Her picture hangs from his rear view mirror. Whatever it is, something has made him happy. The music sounds sweeter today, evident by his fingers tapping the steering wheel and his head nodding back and forth to the beat of the song on the radio.
It’s almost as if Eric relishes this time of the day. The traffic finally gives him a chance to slow down and think about things. I imagine that he has big dreams. I can see, by his swagger, that he has a purpose.
I wonder if Eric, Glenn or Susan ever see me. Do they wonder who I am? Have they noticed that we share this traffic burden with one another?
I recognize that they are human just like me, that they are not just random people.
Sometimes we need to look around and understand that we are not in this traffic jam alone. We all laugh and cry. We all live and love and we all have dreams. These moments are meant to be shared with each other.
Because just like traffic, we are all in this life together.