Mercy Me! I've got work to do.

Mercy Me — I've got work to do! making the world a better place – starting with me.

Flipped out over getting flipped off


I got flagged off the other day – not with an actual flag, but with a finger.

I didn’t really think people did that anymore. I guess it’s been a long time since anyone showed me their tallest finger.

I was picking up my older son from his first day at a new school and was trying to navigate all the construction and traffic on I-95. I realized I needed to get over one lane and no one would oblige the blinking request of my turn signal.

Now I may fail in a myriad of ways as a nice human being, but one thing that I can say for certain is that I always let motorists in when they need to get over.

I know this is not a profound act and I hope someone can come up with something a little more interesting to say about me at my funeral. Still, when you have your precious 9-year-old in the backseat and are heading straight for a concrete median at 60 mph you tend to appreciate such mundane acts of kindness.

Anyway, I couldn’t get over and did not want to smash into the concrete so my only safe option was to merge into the exit lane.

That’s when the middle finger emerged as an appendage of a very passionate man. It wasn’t any ordinary finger either, because it also made quite a loud honking sound.

Of course, I did not know what the proper response to his gesture should be, and frankly I was so frazzled from my close encounter with concrete that I did not have time to formulate one. In a blink of a finger, he was gone.

I know this is one of those things that I am supposed to shrug off. After all, it wasn’t a gun he pulled out.  Thank you, Mr. Passionate Man with the slender middle finger, for not shooting me when I annoyed you. My family is ever grateful.

Still, I feel like maybe, just maybe you could have left your finger on the steering wheel where it belonged.

I feel certain that if you met me you would see that I am not a murderous wretch. I am just a scattered mama who has two carpool lines to be in, on two different sides of town, at the same time. In a way, that makes me a modern day time-traveler. As such, you might even find that you want my autograph.

I realize the time-travel thing loses some of its coolness factor when you get run off the road, but no one’s perfect.

And while perfection cannot be attained, perhaps patience can.

While, I can’t remember the last time my tall finger put on a solo performance, I have been just as guilty of letting my frustrations dictate my behavior.

The problem with doing this is we lose sight of one another’s humanness. We value being right more than being kind. We value our destination more than someone else’s dignity. We make sure our voices are heard without pausing to think of whom those voices hurt.

It has been exactly a week since I was shown how passionately that man feels about me, and I am happy to say my commute as a time traveling, carpool mom has been less dramatic.

But, I would like to thank that passionate finger-wielding man for reminding me about the importance of practicing patience and kindness even when your fingers point you in a different, darker direction.

In gratitude for sharing your finger with me and hence this lesson, I would like to give you not one of my own — but two.

So, is it just or me or do people seem way too agitated while they are driving these days?  There were two accidents in front of my son’s school just this week.  Then, this morning while trying to navigate what I call the death merge I got honked at — and not because they thought I was pretty.   I guess I am just grateful that I didn’t get the finger…again!   Please share your experiences, I always love to hear from you and maybe someone just needs to tell me I am a terrible driver and need to stay off the roads!

Drive safe!


Author: Lara Patangan

Mercy me, I’ve got work to do… is a blog I started on my 40th birthday to chronicle my experiences spending the year doing corporal and spiritual works of mercy. No longer on the cusp of a new decade, I am still here finding that much work remains – in the world, my community, my relationship with God and perhaps most challenging, within myself. Please sign up and join me as we share the work that matters most – being better people. In hopes that when the decades cease to pass the world will still whisper of the graces left in our wake.

6 thoughts on “Flipped out over getting flipped off

  1. I’m sorry that happened to you! When my husband and I moved here three years ago from Pittsburgh, it struck me pretty quickly that Jacksonville drivers are terrible drivers! I think people drive way too fast through the spaghetti-like interchanges of I-10 and I-95, and trying to move over four lanes from the flyover to the Roosevelt Blvd. exit is heart-stopping…yet I do it almost every day. I hope that it gets easier for you over time.


    • Kate-

      At least by my son’s school where the interstate suddenly drops off from 65 mph speed limits into 35-40 mph – there is no transition for interstate drivers to slow down. Meanwhile there are people like me who have less than 1/2 mile to get over 4 lanes to get into the school. It’s just so poorly designed. That’s not where I got the mean finger though! I think maybe what happens to us in our cars is akin to what happens on the internet — people feel shielded from personal contact and behave in ways that they would never do when meeting me personally. I hope they wouldn’t anyway!


  2. That’s a good observation about the Internet and being inside your car…whenever I’m behind some dear soul driving painfully slowly though Avondale, and I get irritated, I have to remember that I may run into him or her in an official capacity and wouldn’t want my impatience to reflect badly on my position or my employer!


    • That’s true, Kate! That is what I thought about this finger-shooting fellow – if he knew me he would know I am not as horrid as I must have appeared behind the wheel of my car. He would see my humanness and either like me anyway or just be polite!


  3. I got honked at in the carpool lane the first week of school! I was making a right turn into the pickup lane, and this left-turner honked because I wasn’t letting her in first! Totally traumatizing! And in Catholic school, of all places!
    I think that everyone is in too big of a hurry. I constantly remind myself that it is better to be late than wreckless (I almost hit concrete once,too). And I regularly say a prayer when I get on I-95..


    • Okay, getting honked at by someone in carpool line is bad. I am thinking, as much as I hate for you to steal my thunder, that it is worse than being shot the bird. Because they are supposed to be your own people! What will they say to you at the PTA meeting when they see you or at the Christmas program when all the little angels are singing about Jesus’s big birthday? That is especially awkward and in my opinion especially rude. I have no problem using the horn for safety reasons but when it’s just to alert someone that you are annoyed that you did not let them skip ahead- it just seems like maybe letting it go is a better reaction. We are all in too big of a hurry. It jeopardizes both safety and civility. Good luck seeing that driver around – who knows maybe you will end up the best friends and you can laugh about someday!


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