The Woman Who Let Me In

I’m in standstill traffic driving on a 4-lane road (2 lanes on each side) heading into Santa Cruz for the Fourth of July.

I need to make a right in about a hundred feet but I’m in the left lane. The minute I put on my blinker the driver to my right lurches forward to close the gap between her car and the one in front of her. No eye contact. It’s a clear message.

What’s unfortunate for her is that we’re not moving so I’m still on her left and still in her life, even after the lurch. I smile. I’m not aggressive, I’m not angry. I’m asking.

I know she sees me out of the corner of her eye but I wave a little anyway to insinuate that I think she doesn’t see me yet. This is important. It gives her a way out, the space to change her mind and form a different relationship with me, without anyone else knowing what could have been.

She looks over. At this moment, my face is crucial. Am I pissed? Incredulous? Entitled? Or really just asking… one frustrated driver to another seeking to manufacturer some goodwill before we go in different directions.

Green light.

The traffic lets up a bit. The cars in front move a half a length and her car remains still. She looks resigned at first, like she lost something, but then I give her the universal thank-you hand gesture along with some eye contact and a smile. She raises her hand off the wheel, just a few fingers, and smiles herself.

Just like that, she becomes a good Samaritan.

We all like to be good. Sometimes it just takes a second for us to get there.

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