Can’t We Make Time for a Funeral Procession?
The other day I encountered a funeral procession in traffic, and I quickly realized how rude other drivers were intent on being to the mourners.
I encountered an article on Huffington Post by the Rev. Cindy Maddox called “Stopping Traffic for Grief.” It reminded me of a situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago.
I was on my way to lunch driving down the highway when I noticed blue lights in my rear-view mirror. Instinctually, I immediately checked my speedometer even though I knew I wasn’t speeding. When I glanced back up, I saw that the police car had moved over to the left lane and behind him was a line of cars, incluing a hearse, with headlights on.
A couple of drivers, I noticed, had seen this coming and quickly passed me ahead of the police officer, as if they just couldn’t be troubled by being delayed by a funeral procession.
As I continued driving in that right lane, neither speeding up or slowing down, I realized there were several drivers behind me who were obviously not part of the procession. The driver immediately behind me was making faces as if encouraging me to speed up. The middle of the procession was on my left now.
I wasn’t in an immediate hurry.
It wasn’t necessary that I “beat” the procession to the traffic light, so I maintained my speed.
As the procession turned before the end of the road, other drivers zoomed around as soon as they were out of the way.
Watching this little display that was so typical of today’s impatience, the same thoughts that occurred to Maddox had also occurred to me. Particularly this one:
You couldn’t know anything about the person in that hearse or the many people who followed. But you still could have stopped. You could have waited. You could have recognized that someone else’s pain was greater than your need to get to lunch.
The difference was that Maddox was in the procession and I was not.
To be honest, I had no idea who the recently-departed was. I didn’t recognize a single mourner that followed the hearse. I wasn’t even certain of social ettiquete when encountering such a scene behind the wheel: Am I supposed to speed past and just act as if nothing happened? Is it improper to maintain pace with the procession to allow them to have the road for those two or three minutes?
I chose what I considered the respectful option.
Shouldn’t we be able to give someone else just a few moments of respect rather than racing by? Is it too much to ask that we slow our pace out of respect for those who loved someone they just lost?
I don’t think so.