Tailgating

There’s a couple of places I know very well along the old Alabama highway. There’s the Waterville Baptist church parking lot, and then there’s a little gravel parking lot at the intersection of the old Alabama highway and Lafayette road.

The reason I know these places so well is because I often pull over at one of these two places, and let people who are “in a hurry” pass me by.

The people who crowd your tail.

The people who swing out in the left lane like they are going to pass you on a double yellow line, then slam on their brakes and swing back in right behind you when they see a logging truck coming straight at them.

They are the people who pass you on a blind curve going up a curvy mountain road.

Paula Neurauter Bowers and I had a little red sports car pass us like that once, when we were driving home from Athens back in our younger days. About two curves later he left the road, hit the mountain, and died in a flaming inferno. There was nothing we could do, so we just drove on to the next house and called the sheriff’s department.

It was something we hated to see. I can still see it in my mind’s eye even now over 40 years later. I wonder what that young man might have been, what he might have accomplished, if he just hadn’t been in such a hurry to get where he was going. And, he did get where he was going. I feel sorrow still, but never any guilt.

I was talking to my granddaughter Auttie Bowers just last night about not being in a hurry driving home from college on the weekends. I told her that getting somewhere five or ten seconds earlier is not worth risking your beautiful life over. And, it’s not.

I’ll admit, I’m not perfect. I’ve done my share of stupid things behind the wheel. Fate has just been kind to me, or maybe it was just luck. Therefore, over the years I have learned from experience not to do the stupid things anymore.

So, I’ll pull over if I have to in order to let someone pass. I did it just this morning. (Hello Waterville Baptist church!). I’ll slow down and let you by, even though I’m driving the speed limit. By doing this, I hope I have and might…potentially save someone’s life.

Sometimes there’s just no cure for stupid though, except for the one the young man in the red sports car found. There are things you just cannot prevent, even by being kind, or by sticking to the letter of the law. In those cases the people in a hurry will never get the chance to live long enough to attain the wisdom which comes with experience. You can feel sorrow, or even anger…but don’t feel guilt!

Drive carefully….everyone, really. I mean it.

Little Sneakers

Little sneakers. I have laced up and tied on many, many a pair on my kids and grandchildren. I have heard them coming down the hallway in my house running as fast as they could go. I look around the corner with joy to see the beautiful faces of the tiny lives inside those sneakers. All different colors and kinds. “Papa, will you tie my shoe?” I tie them every time and tightly hug the child inside them. My Dad taught me to hold them and say: “I’ll put this arm around you, and then this arm around you and SQUEEZE!”

Those tiny little sneakers.

Yesterday I saw a photo of a pair of sneakers on a toddler, and it broke my heart. A photo I will never forget. The little toddler was laying dead on a beach in Turkey. Then his little body was in the arms of a soldier, his little sneakers hanging over his arms.

There are not enough words, nor room to write the words about this sorrow. The photos of beheadings are trivial next to this.

We may think…well this is a world away. Maybe, but the world is getting smaller every day, and this is humanity we are speaking about.

I don’t want to see these photos again, but I cannot look away. Something must be done. I have to do something no matter how small. I’m checking to see what I can do.

Those little sneakers will haunt me if I don’t.