This is a story about kindness, and about making generalities, and about prejudice. My prejudice.
Recently we were driving down the road in Florida and got passed by a vehicle. We get passed by vehicles often, we drive sort of slow, but this vehicle that passed us was memorable. It was a big pick-up truck, the kind up on large tires, with a confederate flag strapped to it that was flapping in the breeze.
I don’t think I said anything out loud this time, I often do, but I know that inside I felt it: disgust, resentment, anger, and a judging – that these people who would so brazenly wave such a racist symbol were ignorant, mean, and unkind.
|Stock image of a confederate flag, I did NOT take a photo of the truck passing us|
They drove on.
Then, at some point, the pick-up truck and our little Prius, yes, our tree hugging, politically correct hybrid, ended up next to each other at a red light.
We didn’t even look their direction. Inside our air conditioned car we were talking or singing or something or other.
Then they HONKED. At us. To get our attention.
I jumped. And my first reaction was fear. I was SCARED of people I didn’t even know, had never even SEEN before, because of what I perceived as a symbol of hatred being displayed by them.
My partner David was driving, and he rolled down the window to see why they had honked. A 20-something woman leaned out the truck window, which towered above our window, and said, “Hi. Your brake lights are out”. She didn’t say it angrily, or judgementally, or anything negatively at all.
She said it KINDLY.
She was simply being kind – letting us know that we needed to get our brake lights repaired.
The light changed. We all drove on. David and I continued talking about whatever we had been discussing, but later in the evening came back to that moment. It turns out, he had thought the worst, too. We had both ASSUMED incorrectly that these people would be unkind.
And we were wrong.
It was a good lesson in not stereotyping. And that kindness can be displayed by anyone. By everyone. It was a lesson I needed, and I am glad that woman took the time to teach it to me.