Here’s another driver’s confession: Tonight I was driving to church when I heard the slight sound of sirens. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw an ambulance, far away, but approaching.
I won’t need to pull over for a little bit,
I thought, still driving. So, I kept driving, and it kept coming. After about a minute I
need to pull over, but then I thought.
Do I really need to pull to the side? Couldn’t I just stop in this middle lane? Surely the ambulance could still get by.
Quite a few other drivers must have thought this too, cause I saw only the car in front of me pull to the right, (and I followed suit).
In that moment I witnessed insensitivity that is disappointingly familiar. How could we—I—be so insensitive to the needs of whoever was in that ambulance or about to be placed in that ambulance?
A city creature, I have become so accustomed to seeing and hearing ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks that the experience doesn’t carry any emotional weight to me anymore. When my pupils are dilated by the flashing red lights, I don’t think about the person or people who might be saved by the paramedics on board. I don’t think “emergency.” I think "inconvenience."
Tonight, though, was a self-inflicted slap to the face. I don’t want to be the selfish driver who thinks only of herself. I want to be willing to miss a light, or a turn, or a freeway exit if it means health and safety for someone. And I want to do it without thinking about it, as instinctively as a mama bear protects her cubs.
So from now on my name shall be “Mama Bear Chante.”