Be nice. It matters.

I once read something, and I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it went something like this: “Be kind, because each person you meet is fighting a struggle that you know nothing about.”

I’ve really tried to internalize this. Specifically, when driving… and I’ll tell you why:

One of my dogs, Roxie, died on November 1st. She died in the night, at our home. While I’m glad she was able to go while she was at home with us, this meant I needed to transport her body to another location to have her cremated. I remember vividly that difficult trip: my wife and I drove her body to the local vet’s office that dreary afternoon. The most important thing to me during that drive was to make sure that I didn’t make any sudden driving movements that might send Roxie’s lifeless body rolling around the back of my SUV. All the while, I remember thinking about whether other drivers were getting angry at me for going so slowly.

Since then, whenever I am driving and I encounter someone who’s going too slowly for my taste, I try to remind myself that I don’t know what they are dealing with. I’ve taught myself to act as if every slow-driving “asshole” I come across might have a dead dog in the back of their car. And I remind myself that that person would appreciate me not riding their ass and being a prick just because I want to go a bit faster than they are.

So, to paraphrase: remember that every person you meet — every person that pisses you off — is probably dealing with something difficult that you don’t know about. Do them a favor: don’t make their lives harder if you don’t need to.

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