Drive-thru rage and the shame of it all

drvie thru
The scene of the crime

I’ve recently discovered that I’ve operated under a false image of who I am. I assumed as a follower of Christ, I would always turn the other cheek.

Turns out that the real me came out in a Starbucks drive-thru here in OKC.  My wonderful self-image was destroyed when I got behind the wheel.

I’ll set the stage.

My wife and I, along with our 2-year grandson, were heading out to Dallas for a brief getaway for a couple days.  I wanted a cup of coffee before hitting the highway. So we drove to a local Starbucks, which had quite a line of cars in the drive-thru.

The line went all the way out to the parking lot of the shopping center in which it is located, so I put my blinker on and waited my turn, leaving room for other cars in the busy lot to pass on my left.

I was waiting patiently to pull into the drive-thru when a small car rushed by me on the left and wheeled into the drive-thru. I was beyond incensed.

Before I realized it, I jumped out of my car and raced over to the line-cutter’s car and rapped hard on his window.

All the while, my wife was pleading with me to come back to our car.

The young man rolled down his window, and I started screaming: “What are you doing?! Couldn’t you see I was sitting there with my blinker on waiting to pull into the line?” The guy responded: “how was I supposed to know?’  I screamed again that he should have seen the blinker, and then he said “I’m leaving.”

He quickly backed out and left the lot. I went back to my car. My wife said I was lucky he didn’t jump out and punch me.

Suddenly, my righteous indignation gave way to an incredible sense of shame. What had I done?

I was the old man screaming ‘get off my lawn!’

michelle millben
Michelle Millben

About two days later, I saw a post on Facebook from Michelle Millben, an Oklahoma native who lives in Virginia. Michelle is an incredible public speaker whom I heard a few years back at the Oklahoma WISE Conference, and have followed her posts ever since.

Anyway, Michelle told a story about playing peacemaker for a couple of guys who were about to come to blows at the gas pumps of a service station.

She saw what was happening and approached the pair, speaking in a calming voice.

I admire the way that Michelle diffused the situation and played the peacemaker for people she didn’t even know.

As for me, the only way is up from the depths of my behavior. Michelle’s post and my crazy rant have really helped me to reassess my own demeanor.

I hope I can be the peacemaker in the future, and not the old ‘get-off-my-lawn’ guy who hangs his head in shame today.

A salute to 1971, the coolest year, from a cool kid wannabe

From the cool year of 1971, a cool kid wannabe peers out from his high school yearbook

I stumbled upon a Wall Street Journal article the other day that outlined what a watershed year 1971 was in many, many ways. (You can read it here with a WSJ subscription.) 

It was the year that Nixon/Kissinger reached out to China and opened the U.S. to an important trading partner that had only been seen previously as an arch enemy.

It was the beginning of the end of AT&T’s monopoly of the nation’s telecommunications industry, with an FCC ruling that opened the door to a second long-distance calling provider.

It was the end of the link that tied the U.S. dollar to the value of gold, opening the way to what are known as “floating exchange rates.”

Walt Disney World opened in 1971, as did a little coffee business known as Starbucks, as well as the Nasdaq trading market. The 26th amendment passed that gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Intel introduced the 4004 chip, considered the first “computer on a chip” and launching a wave of technology innovation that continues today.

The Journal article pointed out that all of these events happened in a single year exactly 50 years ago.

Then it hit me. I graduated high school in 1971, which means I’ve been out of high school for half a century.

The thought almost brought me to tears as I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.

I’m not nostalgic for my high school class, because I never, ever sat at the cool kids table. I was a cool kid wannabe, but never made the cut.

I was mostly invisible to my classmates at Southside High School in Fort Smith, Ark.

So, why did this article hit me so hard? I think it’s because I had never really given any thought to how many years had passed since Graduation Day in 1971.

And how I’ve lived sort of my own version of Forrest Gump’s life in the intervening 50 years, still trying to be one of the cool kids and never quite making it.

But I’m proud of the newspaper career I pursued for more than 30 of those years, a career that brought me to OKC where I would meet the woman who became my wife, the kids we raised, yada, yada, yada.

Enough of that.

Just know that 1971 was a really, really cool year. I’m proud that it’s the year of my high school graduation.

Even if I wasn’t one of the cool kids.