Face Value

I’ve probably mentioned before in my blog, in person, or made references on social media about my rather lengthy commute to work. 62 miles from home to work. That’s 124 miles a day. 620 miles a week. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in my vehicular device getting to and from work.

Thankfully, the majority of my commute is spent on highways going opposite of traffic. It only takes me about 1.25 hours to get to go those 62 miles. That’s about ~10 hours a week spent driving just for work. That all sounds totally undesirable by some, but my situation isn’t as bad when I’m able to carpool half way. I try not to complain because I’m grateful for my job, and I have coworkers who go 70 or 80 miles, one way, to work. Then I found out about the engineer who lives in Florida and flies home every weekend…

Considering all that, that’s a lot of highway time! With a lot of time on the highway comes all the frustrations of driving on the highway. A frequent circumstance I encounter while gracing I-35 with my car’s tires is getting stuck behind the slow vehicle.

Usually it’s a semi, and for the purpose of this blog post, I shall interchangeably use “semi” or “truck” to refer to the “slow-moving vehicle”.

Yeah, I’m going the speed limit at 75 mph along a clear stretch of the highway. Then I catch up to the slow-moving truck. And thus I have to slow down. Because I slow down, cars in the other lane pass me and the truck up in the other lane, and I can’t switch lanes because the faster cars aren’t giving me room.

I fall into the very human temptation of being frustrated and angry with the truck because they’re going 60 mph when the speed limit is 75 mph! Now, I’ve been at my long-commute company for the past 3 years, and I’ve had multiple carpool buddies throughout that time. When they’re the driver, they get frustrated and angry too, with some being more vocally expressive in their frustration.

And who wouldn’t!

Because the fact of the situation is right there in front of my face. A slow semi! I can’t pass! My 1.25 hour commute is slowly becoming a 1.5 hour commute. Any longer and I just could go green in the face!

Thankfully I have some patience. I don’t get to the point of yelling explicatives or calling the driver all the D words, like some carpool buddies I’ve had. But even then, it’s easy for me to get frustrated at the slow truck driver and blame him or her for their slothful crawl along the highway.

Then…a seemingly miraculous thing happens! A window of opportunity! A break in the traffic! A chance to switch lanes and pass the slow truck! Cherishing this victory, I seize the opportunity to pass the truck!

Now this is where it sometimes gets awkward. As I’m passing the slow truck, I find out that the reason why the truck was slow is because of the vehicle in front of it. I couldn’t see the actual slow vehicle because the truck covered my view of it. It’s awkward because I’ve built up these feelings of frustration and anger for the truck driver when, in fact, it wasn’t the truck driver’s fault. I was taking the situation at face value and making a judgment call through my response to the situation.

See, because I do spend a lot of time in my car, it gives me time to really reflect on things. 

It’s fairly logical to react in frustration when life presents me a slow-moving vehicle on my already lengthy commute. I mean, that’s just me accepting the situation as it is and responding in a logical way. “Taking it at face value.” But as the prophetical Transformers theme song sayeth, there’s “more than meets the eye.”

All I needed was a different perspective and a little patience in order to discover the truth. In this case, the truth is that the vehicle in front of the truck (or even the vehicle in front of that one!) is moving slow and that’s why the truck is slow. I just needed to look beyond what was directly in front of me, staring at me in the face.

After much reflection, I decided that this is a good lesson for navigating life. Taking things at face value can sometimes cause me to miss out on the fullness of the truth. 

Do I react to what is really happening or what I think is happening? Is there more to it than what I’m currently seeing/experiencing?

How applicable is this to my day-to-day life?

– JD

Clipart of 18-wheeler from FreeClipArtNow.com
The Incredible Hulk from Tipping the Scales blog
Optimus Prime transforming from mampynator’s Photobucket