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‘Me first’ driving

Donegal drivers do this great thing – usually if they’re going slowly they’ll move over to let you past. It’s courteous and makes for great driving. I wonder though if it is on the way out. Several incidents of rank impatience I’ve witnessed have made me wonder.

There’s a school at the top of our road and just the other day I was leaving our estate and got caught up in the school-run mayhem. The road was in danger of gridlock as people tried to bore their way through the mass of parked, stopped and weaving cars. Given that there was no hope of getting anywhere I sat back a bit. Then as things moved a little I noticed that if I (and the cars behind me) moved over slightly it would clear the way for cars coming towards us and ease the whole situation.

Accordingly I moved to my left a little once the car in front had moved on. However instead of following suit, the cars behind me stampeded like a herd of lemmings into the gap only to find that they had well and truly snarled the whole thing up. It’s called ‘me first’ driving.

I was coming up to the road works on the road to Kilmacrennan last Sunday, and as I arrived the lights turned red. Several cars in front went through on the red. Now when I’m at the other end of that it gets up my nose; sitting on a green light with hoards of impatient motorists coming towards you. So I stopped, only for several cars to pull out from behind me and tear on through the red light. Now I like to get to where I’m going as quickly as anyone else, but why should I put my preferences above others’ safety, or others having the right of way on their turn?

It’s all too easy to point the finger at boy racers for the problems on the roads, but the selfishness of any one of us certainly doesn’t help matters.

It’s symptomatic of the ‘me first’ culture in which we live. We mightn’t see ourselves as bad people; we might pride ourselves as being decent and respectable. But what happens when we don’t get our way? When the little idol of self is hampered by someone else do we get angry, or impatient, or feel sorry for ourselves? Do we feel that we have the right to have our wants satisfied?

We might keep a lid on it at times, but at other times, such as when we get behind the wheel, our sense of self-importance pokes through. It isn’t pretty. And it is at such moments we see ourselves for what we truly are. Unfortunately that is the real ‘us’.

Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs, “As a person thinks in his heart, that he is” (23:7).