Road Rules


Driving along, jamming out to your radio station of choice, zooming off to your important destination and it happens. You glance in the rear view mirror. Your ears pick up on that shrill sound. You do what every driver is trained to do in that situation: pull over. To the right, to the left, to the side – wherever you can – you stop. You wait. And then you move on; back into the flow of traffic – cars filled with people on their way to important destinations with people of importance waiting for their arrival.

On the way to the library today (where I was forced to pay my three-year-old fines…), I saw the blinking light at the stop light two intersections away – the little light that indicates an ambulance, police car, and/or fire truck is coming from some direction. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the ambulance coming from behind. I pulled over immediately – stopped in front of an elementary school and watched in amazement as other cars did the same – all of them stopped right then and there.

Wait, that’s a lie. That didn’t happen. Fully stopped in front of the school, I watched in disgust as people kept plugging along, slowing the ambulance down. Precious time was wasted while people, busy on cell phones, tuning to new radio stations, and focused on their own destinations putted along.

Didn’t people take driver’s ed? Don’t they realize the person inside the ambulance is sick, injured, or quite possibly dying? Is it really that inconvenient for us to pull over and let an ambulance pass? Are we that unaware of our surroundings? For Pete’s sake, the ambulance is large with sirens and flashing lights, how can people not see it!

The people on the road I traveled today didn’t notice the ambulance until it was crawling into their trunk. Lights, sirens, action and they still were unaware.

What if, I thought to myself, that ambulance is stalled a nano second too long? Who will that hurt? Who will it kill? Next week, driving down this road, will we be pulling over for a different vehicle – without lights, sirens, and urgency? The next time the person rides in a motor vehicle, will it be long and black? Will we pull over for that vehicle?

So tomorrow, when we’re driving these busy Minnesota roads, jamming out to our Minnesota radio stations, focused on our Minnesota destinations, wrapped up in our own Minnesota thoughts, will we, if faced with this situation, stop?

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