Taking a Vow of Silence or Being Right Ain’t Always Enough
Doug types too much...
September 5, 2017
I like to be right, but it doesn’t always pay.
My wife likes to be right about driving stuff. And most of the time, she is. In fact, if you had a choice between us, you’d probably be better off in a car with her. I’m the one that’s directionally challenged.
We were in traffic. Downtown Charlottesville.
Judy was riding shotgun. Our grown son Ivan was an innocent passenger in the back.
As we approach a major intersection, Judy tells me to get in the left turn lane.
I’m not sold she’s correct. I think I’m right.
So I fight her. “No, I should be going straight here.”
Judy goes to 11. “Get in the left lane! Now! Go!”
Against my better judgment, I signal and get into the left turn lane. The moment I get hopelessly sandwiched in the turn lane, it becomes obvious that changing lanes was a mistake.
So. I was right. But being right isn’t calming me. I’m starting to form bubbles on the bottom of my brain pan. Not boiling, not at 212 degrees yet, but the bubbles are starting to separate from the bottom and rise to the top.
Assessing our screwed situation, I am unable to hold my tongue. I know saying something will get me nowhere, but still I insist on doubling down. My comment is delivered in relatively low, controlled tones.
“I shouldn’t have gotten into this lane.”
She looks sideways out her window. “Nobody told you to.”
I glance in the rearview and catch an eye-rolled Oh, great, here we go from Ivan.
The rational side of me tells me to walk away. No. I want to be right. Because this time I am right. I want to own this.
I deviate briefly from low, controlled tones.
“What do you mean nobody told you to? – you did.”
Judy holds her stare out the passenger window. Avoids eye contact. “No, I didn’t.”
“Yeah, you did.”
“Nobody told you to turn.”
It’s one of those moments where you want to slowly rake a potato peeler across your forehead.
There’s silence for more than there needs to be.
Under my breath, I mutter, “Yes, you did.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Silence. Like, cone of silence.
Ivan pipes up softly from the peanut gallery. “Yes, you did, Mom.”
Ivan has consistently been the level-headed one in the family. And he’s backing me up. And I’m right for a change. But being right in this case was clearly not enough.
Just for the record, it is actually possible to build a wall of silence.
You hear silence described as deafening. I can attest. If silence equaled screaming, I now had a front row seat to a Beatles concert.
It took 45 minutes to get home.
I just want to be right sometimes.
And it was quiet.
So if you like that sort of meditation…