This morning my car died. Right in the middle of traffic. On a highway exit. In rush hour. Yup. While my first instinct was to cry because how could this happen, my rational brain luckily took over and I called the police. When your car is blocking a lane of traffic, you don’t have that many options. So as I stood by the side of the road waiting for the sheriff, a lady stopped in front of me. She rolled her window and proceeded to scream: “Get back in your car! How dare you do this! Your hazards aren’t working and you are breaking protocol!” I was shocked, momentarily, then apologized to her, told her that the police had told me to exit the vehicle and that my hazards were indeed on. She didn’t care, she was clearly frustrated and drove away as the light turned from red to green.
Shaken, I glanced up as a semi-truck driver rolled down his window. “Great,” I thought. Instead he asked if I was ok. If I needed help and what had happened. I told him of the sudden death of the car, and he proceeded to stop his semi behind the little car, get out and check the car for me. He then asked me to get in so he could push it out of harm’s way. He didn’t know me, nobody told him he had to do that. He could have gone around, I am sure he was busy, but instead because he took the time, traffic could flow again and the car wasn’t stuck in the middle.
It took two hours but the car got to the shop thanks to a helpful sheriff and an even more helpful tow truck driver, and this experience left an impression on me.
When we are faced with obstacles in our way; which person do we become? Who do we choose to be? Because it is a choice. The woman who screamed at me had to make many choices; stop, roll down her window, formulate the words, and shake her head. The man who stopped to help had to make equally as many decisions. Had to spend a little more time, but because he saw a way to help the problem rather than complain, it was better for everyone involved. That’s a choice they made. That’s a choice we make every single day.
When we are faced with hurdles in our day, what do we do? Do we get angry, lose control, blame the problem? Or do we stop, reflect, and try to come up with a solution? I think it is easy to choose the first, but the second one is the way we actually solve the problems we face.
This afternoon, I emailed the company of the semi truck driver to let them know how he had helped a stranger. I told him thanks but I didn’t get his name. When our path gets hard, we always have a choice of how to react. Make sure to make a good one.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.
4 thoughts on “You Have Two Choices”
Sorry this happened to you. But it is a definite teaching moment you could share with your students.
Pernille, I know the focus of your topic is about 2 choices. However, focusing on the number 2, your story makes me think about the fact that there are 2 types of people in this world: Caring and uncaring.
So happy you are safe. What a day it must have been. I love your perspective and incite about the whole situation. We tell our students and this all the time. I think we adults often forget to pause and consider our actions too!
Acts of kindness, every one of them lights up the world. Glad you are safe. Happy there are people like you & that truck driver out there in the world!