Guest view: The four way
by Nancy Gardner
Jul 05, 2013 | 1287 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’m no psychologist, but I play one from time to time. I can’t get over how easy it is to peg someone’s personality by their behavior at a four-way stop.

This concept dawned on me a recent afternoon when I was punchy with lack of sleep coming home from running one of many board meetings. Attendees hadn’t been bored — it was an informative meeting.

In a buoyant and tolerant mood, I actually stopped at the red hexagonal sign with no cars in sight. As I started to go, a female college student came to the stop from the left with one tap on the brake and the other heavily on the accelerator. My master’s in education took over and in a nano-second, I gave her my best horn hello and waved as I began to take my perceived God-given turn, continuing through the intersection. Luckily, it scared the girl out of her entitlement reverie, and she actually realized for a brief moment that her student visa did not give her the inalienable right to muscle others on the road.

I proceeded with the brief but smug satisfaction that I may have taught her the necessary lesson to save her life on the road at some future date.

While continuing to the next stop sign, God tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was mothering her or exerting my ability to manipulate that pugnacious student. Hmmmm. By the time I got to the next stop-sign encounter, I had decided to bring out my naturally sweet self and share a smile and the road with others. A woman and I approached the stop almost simultaneously, with me but a hair’s breadth ahead. We smiled and nodded understanding to each other, and I proceeded through with my turn. It kind of felt like I had a new friend and we both were enjoying our lives.

I smiled the rest of the way home. Even at the pesky four-way two blocks from my house, I was smiling. Then the inner light bulb of revelation went off and I realized that in the last nine years, I had hit that stop in every mood known to man. That every time I came to the stop, I behaved in the way that matched my mood: impatience, concern over the kids, the stress of time constraints, practicing my speech for the next event, going over the items on my errand list, considering how to solve my version of a world problem, loving this great earth, loving mankind, fretting about when I’d have time to grab a bite to eat. My list is the same as yours.

Now, with the heightened awareness of revelation, I can drop little love bombs on others at all the stops. Maybe I will employ the lessons taught through Rotary International. What if everyone at a four-way stop considered the Rotarian four-way test:

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Does it build good will and better relationships?

Is it beneficial to all concerned?

What if we employed that four-way test at all of life’s crossroads?

— Nancy K. Gardner, President, CMC Finance, Inc., 4225 Executive Square, Suite 600 La Jolla, 92037, (858) 456-3000
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