I was in the right lane, driving 60 in a 65mph zone. It's snowy and the wind is blowing hard, so I had slowed down to be safe. Then the car behind me starts following way too close. I don't speed up because, you know, hazardous driving conditions.
After a few seconds the car behind me jerks around and starts to pass on the left. I heard a honk as the driver flew by me. At first I thought someone else was honking at this unsafe driver, but then I realized the unsafe driver was honking at ME.
I stayed calm. My pride is not worth a car wreck. Then suddenly I had to brake. The unsafe driver had pulled right in front of me, and in doing so fishtailed and had to slow down so the car didn't spin. Because I was driving slower than usual and paying close attention to the road, I did not slam into the unsafe driver's car.
I *did* think very bad thoughts about the unsafe driver. I might have even, if only for a split second, thought I hope that asshole gets in a wreck up ahead. Immediately, I felt bad. But come on. Nobody's perfect. I'm not Jesus. I mean, it's not like I wanted the asshole to wreck into someone else's car. Just a nice little slip off the road and into the guard rail would suffice. Air bag would get deployed. No one would get hurt. Just, you know, teach 'em a lesson.
There's this German word, schadenfreude. I love the word schadenfreude. It basically translates to English as "feeling good about another person's misfortunes." Schadenfreude is what was going on when I momentarily wished a car wreck upon that stupid driver.
But you know what? The good feeling didn't last long. As soon as I pictured the car crashed into the guard rail, it felt like I'm the one who'd become the asshole, not the unsafe driver. I don't want to be that person. I want to be better than that. It's human to experience feelings of schadenfreude from time to time, but is it right?
I thought about all this while I kept driving. I made my exit and then realized where I was going. I was on my way to drop Katie off at church for choir practice.
Wait a minute? Is this guilt I'm feeling? Do I feel bad for hoping that asshole wrecks because of all this time I've been spending at church? What the hell?
I don't know about all that. I don't believe a person has to go to church to know how to be a good person. But it made me think. If Jesus were alive today, I wonder if he'd have road rage? Probably not. If Jesus ever got in a car wreck he'd turn around so the other car could slam into the other side. Sometimes Jesus seems like a show off. He's such a golden boy.
But Jesus is right. I feel better about myself when I don't wish bad things upon other people. Let assholes be assholes. Don't let them turn you into one, too. That's a quote from the Bible, right?