The first thing my dad tells me he did after my birth was count my fingers and toes. He said those words, “Ten fingers, ten toes” out loud whenever I arrived. I suppose that aside from noticing a pair of perfectly healthy lungs, this is a common thing parents pay attention to when first laying their eyes on their newly born infant. I only remember looking into my daughter’s eyes that first extremely short moment they allowed me to hold her, before she was taken away somewhere else, where her lungs got their first official medical treatment. And I didn’t see her again for six hours.
Waiting sucks. But, I have learned to be patient. I have just accepted that usually things do not typically go my way right off hand. Sometimes, the miracles of life are slow. As hell. And sometimes, priorities shift. I don’t remember counting fingers and toes. I remember being happy that I finally got to hold her in my arms, and remember never wanting to let go.
My daughter is fifteen now, on the verge of sixteen in less than a month. Sadly, we have not been practicing driving until only recently, and she has yet to get a driver’s permit. I could blame Covid, and I could blame working multiple jobs, and I could blame myself for being exhausted and absent minded, etc. And I did, for longer than I should. It took one driving lesson to realize the actual reason I had not made it a priority. So, uh… allow me to share the truth.
But first, patience! I have a long, drawn out story to tell.
I have been in exactly ten (10) car accidents. I am required to be inside of a vehicle to continue being responsible. I have never caused a collision. I have had multiple spinal fractures, resulting in body casts, use of wheelchair, physical therapy, as well as concussions, eye damage, rib bruising, nerve damage, and other things (PTSD, brain stuff) I’ve yet to see a specialist for. (Patiently waiting for insurance effective date to roll around as we speak.) Anyway, I love (<3) to drive. But riding?
NOT SO MUCH.
I am in near collisions seemingly every single day. Most people I observe being a complete dumbass are typically on a cell phone or putting on make-up or just totally jacked up/numbed down on…. whatever. The last collision took place on my birthday. I accidentally overslept (somehow, this rarely happens), and I did not have time to make coffee nor change clothes before taking my daughter to school. I rolled out of bed, frantically took a piss, put on my shoes, exited the house, and then drove her to school. On the ride home, I got stopped on a live train track, so I pulled into the clear lane to avoid a horrific accident, but was in an accident three seconds later anyway. A woman who wasn’t very patient wanted to avoid waiting at a red light and rolled right in to me. I was nice, despite the circumstances leading up to this and generally this. She wasn’t. I retreated to my car and patiently waited for an officer. He was nice to me and thirty minutes later, I was back on my way. Enjoyed my coffee. Enjoyed my birthday. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Two nights ago, I was stopped at an intersection that intersects a main highway. My light turned to green, and I crept forward, but since I am hyper aware of my surroundings (make sense?), I noticed a black Charger hauling ass, blatantly running the red light, and had I not been paying freakish attention and come to a complete stop in the middle of this intersection, he would have definitely plowed into the passenger side of my vehicle, I would have been knocked to the left, most likely hit the embankment at around 50 mph, spinning, possibly flipped, and perhaps would have been dead on impact.
But I stopped.
I say all of this for many reasons, but I’ll just bullet point a few potentially (definitely) life-saving tips, since most people are either anti-patience or anti-attentiveness or anti-courtesy.
1.) Be patient.
2.) Be attentive.
3.) Be courteous.
You can go a long way (i.e.-live longer because you weren’t killed in a vehicle), by observing these very simple game changers. You will also feel yourself enjoying the journey more. One extremely difficult thing for me to do- which has taken years of practice- is be patient inside of a vehicle whenever there is a Point B. I want to exit the vehicle as soon as humanly possible, unless I am on a joy ride in the country and blasting my tunes. It also took many years to figure out various routes to various destinations that require the least amount of stop and go, while involving the least amount of traffic. Road rage has increased in the area, and I guess all over, and tensions can run high. Imagine that feeling you get when someone’s just cut you off, without using a blinker, and then drives ten miles per hour under the speed limit, AND flicks a birdie your way. Your heart would be racing, I’m thinking. Well! I’d like for you to think for just a moment that there are folks who experience this level of anxiety from simply being inside of their means of transportation. Now, here’s my truth:
Riding in the vehicle with my daughter, who was wearing spiked platform boots, unable to feel the acceleration, was worse than the Acrophobia ride at Six Flags. Some people don’t do heights. Well, I realized on this day what my phobia is- Being in a vehicle operated by my teenage daughter and realizing I won’t be there to help and/or protect her eventually-phobia.
The idea that my child could potentially be in any dangerous situations makes me feel sick. I don’t think about it. When the thought pops into my head, it is quickly dismissed. I can’t handle it. So, with my history relating to accidents and recoveries, and subsequent struggles and lessons, I have learned this lesson: You have to let it go. You have to let them go. This, in all its fury, requires a level of patience I may have yet to achieve.
But I can be patient.
I am the patient.