He would speed up. Slow down. Slow down some more. Speed up. Ugh.
I glanced at the speedometer again feeling slightly annoyed by the truck ahead of me. I noted that he was now slowing below the posted speed limit and driving erratically. I hummed along to the tune on the radio and consciously counted one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three… in order to ensure a safe distance — just in case the driver of the truck had spent his afternoon not at a book club but at a happy hour.
He turned right. I turned right. He pulled over to his mailbox on the left, and I glanced over my shoulder and continued on. As I passed his truck and neared the bend in the road I noticed headlights. I glanced in the rearview mirror to find that he was now behind me. I kept one eye on the rearview mirror and kept driving.
He followed me down the road and all the way up my driveway to my back door.
I pulled into the detached garage and emerged from the mudroom door on the side to find the man walking toward me.
“You were just driving that red car?” He said pointing at the garage.
“Yes, can I help you?” Hmmm. Maybe he just wants to tell me I have a taillight out. But that thought wouldn’t override my gut which was telling me that this guy was trouble.
“Are your parents home?”
The blood ran hot and cold in my veins as he continued to walk toward me.
“My parents? Excuse me…”
This man thinks I am a teenager. A teenage girl? I mentally high-fived myself, then within a millisecond my eyes widened as I realized that he thinks I am a teenage girl, and he followed me up to my back door inquiring if my parents were home. What if I was a teenage girl and my parents weren’t home? What if I was MY teenage girl and I wasn’t home? OH S#*T!
With my jaw clenched, I stammered, “I AM the parent.” He stopped in his tracks.
He let out an audible, “Oh!” paused a minute, and then as if thrown for a loop he started yelling at me.
“You. YOU are the WORST driver! Where the hell did you learn to drive?!”
“Me? I am the worst driver?” How dare… who in the world does this guy think he is? I asked for his name, and with the great self-appointed authority of one who is in charge in these them parts, he gave me his name. He wasn’t letting up, so I opened the kitchen door and leaned in, “Ken, sweetie, I think you need to come here.”
Ken emerged looking a little perplexed. Why is there a guy outside my back door yelling at my wife?
My level-headed husband moved the man away from the house. There really is no reasoning with an angry (drunk?) hot-headed control freak, so Ken asked him to leave. Then after a few more minutes of asking, demanded that he leave immediately.
Finally, the guy got in his truck and drove off.
We called 911.
Fast forward a couple months.
Ken was already at work as the kids and I headed out the door for Sunday school. After a considerable amount of debate about who got to sit where, we were on the road.
Along a straight section of dirt road the distance between me and the truck ahead of me, which looked vaguely and uncomfortably familiar, was shrinking until I determined that, yes, that’s quite possibly the guy. I said a silent prayer that he wouldn’t be turning left at the stop sign.
He turned left, and (surprise, surprise) proceeded to drive erratically. Slow. Slower. Faster. Slower. Seriously! His passenger (wife?) turned around a couple times. I kept a fair amount of distance between us.
The kids confirmed that he was indeed a wacky driver.
He took the same right turn that I needed to take. I took several deep breaths and sighed loudly.
Before I knew it, there were a couple more cars behind me. One was a white pick-up with dually tires. He was clearly irritated; his diesel engine roared and snorted angrily. After several miles of driving below the posted speed limit, Mr. White-Pick-Up-Truck had had enough. He pulled out in the opposite lane and stormed past the line of cars piled up behind the guy.
“See! He’s not just irritating me. He’s just plain irritating.” I kept my distance and continued on, grumbling and mumbling. “Oh my gosh! He’s doing it again. What a jerk.” My blood ran hot and cold again as I remembered him walking toward me asking if my parents were home. My anger was resurfacing.
After about a half an hour and several turns we were still behind him, and one of the kids laughed and said, “Hey mom, wouldn’t it be funny if he was going to our church?”
Kids say the darnedest things, don’t they?
What would I do if he showed up in the seat next to me at church?
The question is still with me.
What would you do?
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies . . . (Luke 6:27)