Frankly, with a quarter million people living in and near the city of Des Moines, it is fairly unusual to recognize strangers in automobiles. But for some reason Mr. Dash-Pounder had caught my attention several times before this incident.
He drove a rust colored car with Iowa State Cyclone vanity plates and had a propensity to rush through intersections while the light was turning red. I’m guessing him to be in his mid-thirties with a definite Type-A driving personality. Several times he and I would be heading south side-by-side on a 4-lane headed toward downtown on 6th Avenue when I caught him out of the corner of my eye. I often wondered why he was in such a hurry.
One spring morning my wife, Renee, and I were riding together and approached a light that had been yellow for several seconds. As I neared the intersection I slowed down and decided to stop. Looking into the rear-view mirror, I began to laugh out loud.
"What is the matter with you, Bill," she asked "and what is so darn funny?"
"I don’t know his name, but he’s pounding his fist on the dashboard and his veins are popping out of his forehead and he wants to kill me because I didn’t take the light and it looks like he’s gonna’ have a coronary and it’s hysterical because now he’s even madder because he knows that I’m laughing at him!"
The light eventually turned green and the red-faced stranger tail-gated me for several blocks before I turned left as he proceeded onward to face the challenge of other yellow lights.
Why was I laughing?
Because I used to be Mr. Dash Pounder. In a big hurry to be in a big hurry! Rushing to the next thing, place or person and then feeling like I needed to be someplace else.
Pardon my grammar but, "Not no more."
It has become ever so clear to me as each year passes that this needless sense of urgency is an energy-sapper with little long-term value. I firmly believe that small-business owners become much more productive when they pace themselves and take some time to enjoy their surroundings, success, customers and employees. It also gives them energy to concentrate on the important issues of their business without majoring in the minors.
So Mr. Dash Pounder, if you happen to read this, please know that I wasn’t REALLY laughing at you that day. Rather, I was laughing at my former self and thinking how peaceful it can be to sit through a red light.
You never can tell what you’ll see in the rear-view mirror. It just might be something that will make your day.
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