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The Traffic Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old

by Hal Evan Caplan
April 5, 2008

My three year old is my teacher and I learn many lessons from him... like it or not. Sometimes I see the lesson that I am to learn a mile away, as it unfolds and sometimes I am oblivious to the lesson at hand. Nonetheless, I do learn from my teacher. I even have to admit there are times when I am embarrassed that he is teaching me the lesson because I should know better. That of course is why he is my teacher.

Traffic... just the mention of that word brings me to an instant cold sweat. I'm almost positive most people do not like the thought of traffic, let alone being caught smack dab in the middle of it. Not to mention being stuck on the Interstate in a "parking lot" type traffic jam. Just for the record, I loose all patience when I'm stuck in this scenario.

Most of us play the traffic game. You know the one I'm talking about. The goal is to get into the lane of traffic that is at least moving... period. Once this is accomplished, we all know what happens next. The lane we just entered stops and the lane we just came from starts to move.

This happened to my teacher and I. We were late to an appointment... actually I was late and he was just accompanying me. Why is it that when one is in a hurry, traffic seems to be worse? Murphy's Law I would guess... (Murphy sure does have a lot of laws.) And of course, I fell victim to this lane change scam.

Fogged with a cloud of frustration, I did not realize what was taking place at the time, but I was about to learn my lesson since my teacher decided it was time for him to teach me.

"Why did you change, dad?" He asked.
"In order to get in the faster lane." I replied
"Why dad?" He questioned.
"To get there faster!" I shot back
"But you aren't going any faster." He reminded me as I watched the spot I was just in pass me and keep going and going until it was out of sight.

Now my goal was to get back into the lane that was moving on a constant basis. I switched lanes and came to a complete stop as I again watched the second spot I was just in, pass me until that too, was out of sight.

"Dad that wasn't a good idea." My teacher pointed out.
"AAAAHHHH!" I screamed.

Then I heard some giggling coming from the rear of the vehicle. I was afraid to look back at my teacher because I knew he was making fun of me.

My teacher loves to laugh at me when he and I are in the car together... especially in traffic. He believes it is some sort of malicious game someone is playing on me... just me. Of course I try and explain there are different periods throughout the day when the traffic is much lighter, but he still laughs. I'm not sure if my teacher laughing at me makes it any easier, but I can't really get mad at him because for some strange reason, I believe he sees the big picture. And in the big picture, it is pointless to stress out when you have zero control over what is happening with the traffic.

"Dad, you know, I've been thinking." He expressed.
"Oh boy." I thought to myself. He probably wants me to look into purchasing a jetpack or some sort of flying car in order to avoid all of this mess.
"Maybe you should have left earlier." He suggested.

No comment. He was right.

"Dad, why don't we play a game?" He recommended.
That wasn't a bad idea. It would take my mind off of the traffic at least for a little while.

"What game do you want to play?" I asked my teacher.
"You choose." He announced.
"Okay...let's play a game called 'don't look at' ...and we will choose something that we can not look at." I suggested. I started.

"Don't look at any birds." I said.
"Don't look at the sky." He said.
"Don't look at the mirror." I said.
"Don't look at the clock." He said as he giggled. He knew what he was doing.
"That's not fair." I expressed.
"You picked the game." He reminded me.

I did my best and I have to say that I did not look at the clock. That was extremely challenging and I was certain there was a lesson from My Teacher about not looking at the clock. I am proud to say I did not look. As luck would have it, I was literally one minute late. I told him that we were on time and he laughed at me again.

In the end I stressed for no reason at all. As we were getting out of the car, my teacher turned to me and said, "You know dad, it was funny to see you get all crazy while you were driving."

I held his hand while walking through the parking lot. Then, out of the blue, he turned to me and said, "be patients."
"Be patient." I corrected him.
"Yeah, that too." He giggled.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: Do your best to learn how to be patience in any given situation. It will greatly reduce your stress level.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors and is always willing to learn... and of course, always learns from his son.

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