A Lesson In Road Etiquette

In case you weren't aware, my friend Sarah is the next Emily Post. She rightly believes in "home training," and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she wrote this generation's Etiquette, with special additions regarding cyber-etiquette and proper use of technology (especially when NOT to use social networking devices). I would buy several copies, and then distribute them to everyone I know. Manners are important, people. That being said, I am writing this post in honor of Sarah (but not directed at her, mind you).

I realize that, when we go out onto the road in our vehicles of choice, we are taking our lives into our hands. I often feel stressed while driving. I've been known to drive above the speed limit, but I try not to make risky moves, because I know that stresses out those with whom I am sharing the road. Because I understand how nerve-wracking driving can be, I try to be as polite as possible. If someone lets me merge in front of him I wave for a few seconds, acknowledging his kindness in allowing me to get where I need to go. If a driver pulls to the shoulder on a narrow road so I can pass, I give the four-finger wave from the top of my steering wheel, so she knows I didn't just feel entitled to the road. My mother taught me to wave a thank-you to my fellow drivers way back when I was learning to drive, and it is a habit that has often elicited a wave or smile from those to whom it has been offered.

Did other mothers not teach this gesture in Driving 101? Because some drivers are kind to me, I like to be kind to other drivers. If there is a particularly long line waiting to merge, I might let two or three cars go instead of the generally-accepted one. If someone wants to turn left, and there are several cars behind me, I may slow down so that person can quickly and safely make a turn. If possible, I move to the right when I feel someone is trying to pass me, and if someone arrives at two-or-more-way stop shortly after I do, I will invite them to go first if it would better suit the flow of traffic. And how often do I get a wave? Maybe once out of every ten times. For shame.

Is it really that difficult to lift your hand and wiggle your fingers in acknowledgment of kindness from a stranger? I realize that it is not always obvious that someone is being a kind driver, but if you suddenly have a place to merge on a busy highway, another driver probably made that space for you. I don't think it's too much to ask that we thank one another for kind deeds, especially if it only requires minimal movement. Now, if you cannot possibly remove your hands from the wheel, please do not take my advice; we wouldn't want to cause an accident. But a little thank-you goes a long way, and could maybe work towards eliminating some of the stress we all feel while driving.

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I feel like you, my loyal followers, are already skilled at acknowledging acts of kindness on the road, so you probably don't need to take my advice. But pass it on to those in your lives who could use a little road etiquette. Let's make our commutes less stressful, one wave at a time.


Seminary Oddity #328

Oh followers, I have been so remiss. I apologize for my lack of presence in your lives. I'm sure you were waiting with baited breath for my next post. Well here it is!

First off, everyone smile and wave at Anne-Marie, the newest addition to my blogroll. Anne-Marie and I met during my Welcome Week (aka Extended Summer Camp For Young Adults) at college. I was a bubbly and eager freshman; she, a bubbly and truly caring sophomore RA on the floor below mine. I instantly bonded with one of my RAs, who happened to spend a lot of time with Anne-Marie. She was always interested in what was going on in the lives of the people she encountered, even if we weren't her residents. I remember when I got turned down for an RA position, and how Anne-Marie genuinely comforted me and reminded me of God's plan that I couldn't necessarily see at the moment. So now that I've met my sappiness quotient for the day...Anne-Marie and her husband moved to my beloved hometown a little over a year ago, and now she and a college girlfriend are blogging about it! So if you're interested in what's going on in Charm City, check out Another Shoreline, In Baltimore.

I've been trying to think of something creative and, well, sassy to share with you all. Well, as it turns out, my life is BORING right now. I've been sucked into the vortex known as grad school, and although I have some pretty hilarious theological conversations, you all would be bored to tears with them. But let's test drive a little seminarian humor, shall we?

Tonight is one of my seminary's most favorite (grammar police are hunting me down as we speak) nights out of the whole year: Fish Night. Legend has it that one of our professors, back in the early 2000's, had a pin shaped like a fish that she wore often. Now, if you are familiar with Lutheran culture, especially Norwegian Lutheran culture, you would not be surprised that a Lutheran pastor-turned-professor loved this fish pin. Fish is a huge part of Norwegian Lutheran culture. In fact, you may often hear jokes about Lutherans and lutefisk. I'll spare you the gory details of this "delicacy," but essentially, it's cod soaked in lye. And people eat it. I'll pause while you think about that and retch a little bit.

Anywho, the point is that she loved this pin, and then one day, it broke. So the students decided that she should have a memorial for this fish pin, where they would all come to her house (a mere three blocks down from the seminary), bring a fish dish, and remember the fish pin. Let's remember, we live on a battlefield and everything closes at 9:30, so our social lives are a little stunted.

So the tradition of Fish Night began. On a glorious November evening, seminarians trek down the road and arrive at this century-old house, bearing dishes that either contain fish (salmon is particularly popular nowadays) or have a fish theme (like the candy sushi I'm bringing tonight). Tonight, for several hours, we will ignore our homework and some of us will forget that we had mediocre CPE interviews today (more on this another day), and we will delight in Fish Night. There will be plenty of eating, irreverent hymn singing, and just good old fashioned Lutheran fun happening tonight. Our professor and her husband (who also works at the seminary) will provide all of the libations, which will probably result in off-key irreverent hymns (although we are excellent singers and harmonizers, I must say) and maybe a little too much Lutheran fun. But the point is, as I said, fun. A chance to celebrate our wacky and eclectic community and just enjoy the company of one another for a few hours, instead of obsessing over Big Scary Grad School.

I'm sure I'll take an obscene number of pictures tonight, so maybe tomorrow will bring a photo montage of Fish Night. Especially since my one Thursday class was cancelled!! Oh, it is definitely party time, my friends.