I knew I had made a mistake the moment I pulled onto the rain-soaked freeway crossing. It was foggy, the area was unfamiliar to me, and I was in a hurry. I thought the on-ramp to the freeway going north was on the right. But suddenly I saw that it was to the left. I looked over my shoulders hurriedly to check for oncoming traffic, then swung across two lanes to the extreme left and stopped. The light was red.
Just then a huge motorcycle roared up next to my driver’s window and lurched to a stop. The driver bounced in his seat from one leg to another, glaring at me behind wide goggles. My heart pounded. Where did he come from? I wondered. This lane was clear when I checked a moment ago. Or was it?
I remembered how quickly I had cut over to where I wanted to be. How did I not see him? I froze in my seat, terrified that I had scraped the side of his bike, or nicked his leg. He muttered something I couldn’t hear through the roar of his engine and the sound of the rain. I started to roll down my window, then stopped. What are you thinking of? You must be out of your mind, I scolded myself. Look at him. He’s a bear of a man with tattoos and a ring in his lip and eyes as dark and harsh as coal. Why didn’t he watch where he was going?
“God, please turn the light green,” I prayed.
A knock on my window snapped me to attention. The bear was screaming at me, shaking his right paw, while gripping the motorcycle bar with his left one. ZOOM! VA-ROOM!! The bike screamed as this hulk revved the motor.
“God,” I begged, “make it green. Are you listening?”
Then suddenly I saw myself doing something I didn’t expect to do, didn’t want to do, was panicky about doing. I opened the window half way and looked the bear straight in the eye.
“Lady, get off the G-damned road, if you can’t drive,” he screeched. “You nearly killed me. You got that? You cut me off, you got that? You and all the other grayheads are a menace to the road, you got that?”
“Got it,” I said, as bile rose in my throat. I thought I’d vomit on the spot. My heart hammered in my chest. And still the light was red—blood-red. A gun, I thought. What if he finishes me off right here? There’ll be blood–my blood–all over the car, all over the street.
“Green, God, please…”
Still the light was red.
I tried to talk my way through it. “I-I didn’t see you,” I whimpered, leaning on each word like a cane, trying to prop myself up before I passed out.
And then the unexpected spilled from my lips. God knew what I needed to do–even though it took me a moment to catch up with him.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to the driver. “Will you forgive me?”
What are you saying? my mind screamed. He’s a jerk, an ugly, mean freak who hasn’t got a drop of compassion. Why are you asking for his forgiveness?
Because I was wrong, I shot back. I was wrong.
I looked up. The light was green. I was okay, still breathing. The bear zoomed off. My heart quickened with gratitude. My mind settled down. I don’t know if he forgave me or not. He didn’t say, and it didn’t matter. I asked God to be with him as his helmet and boots and cycle disappeared into the rushing traffic.
I drove home, grateful for my life, for God’s protection, for this experience. I didn’t like what happened. I hope it never happens again. But I’m glad it did happen–so I could do what needed to be done and learn from it–even though I didn’t want to at the time.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. . . (Psalm 91:5)