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Let them pass

I was on my way to work yesterday. Traffic was bad, cars inching forward. Everyone more or less stayed in their lane, only changing lanes when necessary. Suddenly a cherry red Porsche convertible roamed from behind, zigzagging its way, cutting into whichever lane was moving a little quicker every few seconds. Despite its clever maneuvers, I exited the freeway right behind the Porsche 6 miles later. Clever maneuvers might give the driver the illusion he is moving faster, but not in actuality.

Another similar experience happened when I was driving to a hike last summer. The freeway was busy, but not congested. Again out of now where, a red BMW appeared from behind, zigzagged its way across lanes to get ahead of the traffic. Within a minute it switched lanes at least 5 times and disappeared from my view. I reached the trailhead 30 minutes later. Amazingly, just as I was parking I noticed the BWM in the parking lot. The passengers were just changing into hiking gears.

We are frustrated by people breaking the rules and pulling tricks to get ahead. Naturally our first instinct is to fight back. It often means us descending into the same lowly behaviors in order to win:

  • An aggressive driver on the road? Let’s be even more aggressive to block his pass.
  • A pushy parent? Let’s be even pushier so my kids get even better grades.
  • A try hard coworker? Let’s try even harder so I get promoted even quicker.

In this race to the bottom, we become the very people we loathe. Instead of engaging in relentless rat races, perhaps just let them pass. Despite of subjecting themselves to considerably more risk and stress, they are not getting there much faster anyway.

July 3, 2023, Seattle