The red light read 35 seconds as I closed up on the Honda CRV in front of me. I put the gear in Park and drank some water. I freed my legs for a little rest, I had 35 seconds, I told myself. I noticed two men a few meters away, all suited up with their laptop bags in hand, chatting passionately. They must be discussing politics looking at how forceful they both fought to make the other listen. My roving eyes left them and perched on the guy inside the car beside me as he munched his burger without any idea he was making me salivate. I stared longingly at him. He took the second bite and my stomach rumbled. I suddenly was hungry. As soon as I noticed he was going to look my way I turned my face, ‘No, he didn’t see me! Gosh, I pray, he didn’t!’ The blaring horn behind me brought me back to the peace inside my car. 35 seconds wasn’t so long after all. The light had changed to green while I was drooling on another’s burger. I quickly changed the gear back to Drive and pressed the horn to wake up the CRV in front of me.
The car didn’t move.
It’s a lie!
What?! I pressed the horn harder. At this point all the cars behind me were already blazing their horns. The cab drivers were cursing. ‘Abi Olori****** ni man yi ni?!’ ‘Carry your jalopy comot for road jor!’ We honked the more.
More abuse flooded in. Naija drivers on Naija roads! Nothing could be more dramatic.
I pressed my horn harder. Then I noticed his indicator beeping left. And we were supposed to be going right as the traffic light indicated. He was not supposed to be on our lane! My annoyance was not printable.
So I was stuck, we were all stuck behind him. And he couldn’t move because there were cars hedging him in. He was going left but stayed on the lane of those turning right. It seemed the realization also dawned on those behind me because though the horns kept blazing, the curses stopped. They knew we were stuck.
I checked the time left for his lane, forty seconds! Forty mighty long seconds! Anger, frustration, disgust, all manner of negative emotions. And I knew by the time his lane turned green, ours would have changed back to red! I shook my head in utter disappointment
One of the cab drivers couldn’t stomach it. He came out of his car, cursing and fuming, ‘Who be this mad man?!’ walked past my car and got to the driver side of the CRV.
Yes, his window was wound up. If he heard the man, it was faintly. And he looked away to show him he couldn’t be bothered. When he got tired, he left and sorrowfully went back to his car.
“Why are people like this?!”
Those 40 seconds seemed the longest ever – add 38 seconds to it. That was how long my lane had to wait after the CRV had left.
Are there people in your lane?
There are people who just don’t know how to stay in their lanes. They are not going in your direction but they cross boundaries and appear in your lane. They are so self-centered, so rude, they wouldn’t be bothered they are standing right in front of you, in your lane, blocking your movement and hindering your progress. All they think about is themselves. All they know is their personal interest. Honk hard they won’t move. Scream loud they won’t bulge. They are so set in their ways, nothing you do will change them.
Are there people in your lane?
They may be cloaked as friends, colleagues, siblings, church members but they are rude and inconsiderate. They subtly sneak in when you are not observing and comfortably position themselves in your front. Or they bully their way in, slow you down, waste your time and make you lose momentum. They know you’re frustrated, they see you are irritated, but it only energizes them.
Are there people in your lane?
They come with their unsolicited advice and their I-know-it-all baggage. They cloud your reasoning and make you question your resolve. They assume a role you have not granted them and believe they have the right to speak into your life. They come at you head-long speaking so much you begin to wonder when it was you gave them access. Are there people in your lane?
You may find them anywhere – your family, your office, your neighborhood, your community, your church, your society, name it. They just have a knack of being in your lane. And when they are, it could be difficult to move them.
So what do you do?
Follow the 3-second rule. The rule simply means you maintain a safe following distance with the car in front of you. That you don’t drive too closely, you don’t go bumper to bumper, that you allow enough space in order to create a safety zone in the event of an emergency stop. The rule advises you ensure you can see the bottom of the other driver’s wheels, safe enough.
Give yourself room to move around. You must be able to take a rapid, instant move when the need arises.
Maintain a safe following distance, a safety zone, in the event of a recalcitrant selfish driver. You don’t want to be stuck, unable to move, by another not going your way.
Don’t stay too close. Don’t follow too closely. As soon as you notice they have stopped to stop you, use your space, flip on your blinker and immediately make a right turn. And continue your journey. Their opinion does not matter. Their advice isn’t needed. Manoeuvre and move on.
In the same way, as it applies in driving, it does in relationships. Give everyone space. It’s not everyone you do bumper to bumper with. Your journey isn’t same. Your destination isn’t identical. Sometimes, if not all the time, you need to maintain a safe following distance with people around you. You make a huge mistake when you think you are all on the same assignment. You are not! You are wrong if you think they have all the answers. They don’t! So, give some space and ask, not plead, that it be respected.
You know why?
Because the light won’t always be on Red! You won’t always be stagnant! You won’t always remain in the same spot. You will not be broke forever. You will not be single forever.
Your light will soon turn Green.
And when it does (not, if it does) you sure want to be ready to move without anyone stopping you.
When your light turns Green, you know it is time to move. When it turns Green, you know the wait is over. So give them space. Don’t follow too closely. Don’t lean in too heavily. You are about to move!
I am so confidently sure that your light will soon turn green.
You will soon get the job. You will soon be called upon.
The baby will come. Your promotion will come.
He will put a ring on it. You will find love again.
Your admission is close. Your victory song is near.