I Just Yelled at a Fireman on 9/11, So How’s Your Day Going?
Did you ever do something you were proud of at the moment, only to wonder later if it was terribly wrong?
That's what happened to me this morning on my way to work.
It was just after 5 am and I was stopped at a red light near my house. The light turned green and I started to go when a car came racing through the red light, causing me to slam on the brakes. This isn't the first time a car has flown through that light. In fact, it's been the scene of some serious accidents throughout the years.
Rattled, I continued on my way when I spotted the car waiting to get on Route 9. As I pulled up beside it, I was surprised to see that it was a fire vehicle. This wasn't a fire truck, but it was a passenger vehicle decorated with fire department decals that said "fire chief" on it. There were no lights flashing, but I still assumed that this car was on its way to some emergency. Why else would they run a light like that?
As the light turned green again, the fire vehicle sped ahead of me, passing other cars and changing lanes without signaling. The car zoomed out of sight, only for me to catch up with it again at another light. As I watched the car speed up and continue to change lanes without signaling, it eventually pulled ahead of me and made a right turn, again without signaling, into Dunkin' Donuts. That's right, this guy's emergency was a glazed donut.
It just so happened that I was also on my way to Dunkin' and wound up parking right next to him. I'll admit that when I found out this car almost hit me because he wanted to get to Dunkin' I was a little upset. Normally I would just let things like this go, but the fact that someone whose job it is to protect citizens was driving so recklessly to get some coffee was something I just had to confront.
Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely yell or fly off the handle. I also have nothing but respect for police officers, firemen and first responders. I always address them as sir or ma'am because that's the right thing to do. So I very respectfully approached the fireman and said, "Excuse me, sir, would you mind being more careful when driving through the village? You ran a red light and almost hit me."
That was it. I know it doesn't sound like someone in an angry rage, but for me, this was pretty confrontational.
The fireman was apologetic, saying that he was very sorry. Because he immediately owned up to it, I decided not to bring up his speeding and lack of traffic signals. I simply said thank you and got in line for my coffee. As I stood there, I was satisfied knowing that I let this erratic driver know that he was in the wrong. How many times do we get a chance to do that on the road? Almost never.
Then I quickly stopped congratulated myself as it immediately dawned on me that I just yelled at a fireman on 9/11. I got a terrible feeling at the pit of my stomach. Was I a total jerk for calling him out on today of all days? Perhaps he was in a rush to pick up breakfast for a special memorial service this morning. Did I just make a terrible mistake?
And then the fireman simply ordered a coffee and breakfast sandwich for himself and walked out the door. Nah, I'm pretty sure I did the right thing. What would you have done?
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