Dear people of Nashville

Dear Nashville drivers,

My mom always told me to offer good points as well as criticism when giving a critique, so I’ll start with this: I love you guys! I love this city and the quirky streets that change names 600 times and the fact that there are about so many roads names Old Hickory around here that people sometimes have to ask, What Old Hickory are you talking about? I love that we get all crazy when it rains and it takes 30 minutes longer to get places—and our overreaction to even the thought of snow makes me smile. It’s also special how my bright red car seems to have a cloak of invisibility that causes all of you to either pull out in front of me or try to merge into my lane—on top of my car.

But alas, that’s not the reason for today’s post. Today’s missive is meant to help people see things a little more clearly, and for that to happen, I’m going to have to be frank. So, here goes. . .

In the past two days—in two very different parking lots in two very different sections of town—I have nearly been mowed down by a couple of you playing NASCAR in the parking lot. I get that Thanksgiving was a little later than usual and you feel rushed to get all your Christmas shopping done before December 25. I get that it’s a busy time of year—if you had looked at my planner last week, you’d see that I’m just as busy as you are.

All that said, it’s no reason to drive through the Brentwood Target parking lot at breakneck speed, only to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting me as I turned from putting my shopping cart in the corral. When I was learning to drive, my dad told me to drive more slowly in parking lots (and residential streets) because you never knew when someone could run out into the street in front of you. Maybe your dad should have given you that warning, too.

Now, my friend in the blue VW Beetle—I’m not sure what you were taught when you were learning to drive. One thing I know you didn’t learn, though, is patience. See, last night I was walking out of World Market in Nashville West, and a nice car had stopped so that me and other pedestrians could walk across the lanes to our parked cars. You, in your infinite impatience, didn’t seem to realize why the other car had stopped and began swerving around her, pulling into the other lane of traffic to pass a car in a parking lot.

OK, there’s a bit of a problem if you think you’re so important that you can’t wait for a few minutes to allow pedestrians to cross the road.

But, I don’t think you realized there were people walking, until you started to pass the other car and finally saw me—which was when I yelled “Really?!” at you and gave you my patented death stare, which was tinged with more than a little disdain. Here’s a life lesson for you, which can be taken literally and figuratively: Don’t ever let your own desires or self-importance become so large that you don’t have time to stop for others.

And finally, I must give a shout-out to the lady in the Nissan Altima. There are specific rules and regulations that govern how a four-way stop works. Let me give you some refreshers:

1. A 4-way stop means that you actually stop. That means your car should not be moving. It means that you do not merely slow down to a creep and keep edging out into the intersection so that other cars cannot pass until you move and therefore, you get to leave first.

2. If you’re the last person to arrive at the four-way stop, you’re not the first person who gets to go through. Most of the time, you go in the order you arrived at the stop. Which means, since me and three other cars were there before you, it wasn’t your turn anyway. (And just so you know, if you arrive at the four-way stop at the same time as someone else, yield to the driver on your right. )

So, Nashville, it’s eight days until Christmas. Until then, let’s slow down, smile at one another, and enjoy Christmas. It’s not really about getting the best bargain, rushing from place to place, or getting everything on your to-do list done. It’s about a Gift of grace and mercy who gives us peace. Let’s revel in that this season!

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