Last Saturday, I witnessed a dangerous mixed message. It happened as my daughter and I were driving home after enjoying 90-minute massages in honor of her 21st birthday. We were stopped at a traffic signal waiting for the light to turn green, when I noticed two pedestrians crossing the intersection.
A petite young woman was pushing a man in a wheelchair. When they were about halfway across, a big pickup truck approached the intersection wanting to turn right. The pedestrians stopped, of course, and looked up at the driver to see whether it was safe to proceed.
I saw the driver wave to them to continue on their journey. Since he waved, I assumed his rig would remain motionless until they were safely across. However, that is NOT AT ALL what happened! Instead of patiently waiting for them to make it to the other sidewalk, I was shocked to see that the driver continued his right turn!
The pedestrians stopped again, likely feeling even more incredulous than I was since it was their lives that were at stake. I watched in disbelief as the driver again reassured them that they could continue. Yet, as soon as they resumed their forward movement, so did the driver.
I didn’t get the sense that he was trying to run them down. I think he was just trying to turn as soon after them as absolutely possible. As a result, he continued to steer his 3/4 ton machine into their path, making a right turn directly behind them after allowing for what appeared to be a mere six inches of clearance.
Astounded at the driver’s shocking behavior, I ranted and raved to my daughter until the light changed. “What planet is he from?” I wanted to know. “What kind of person signals for someone to proceed, and then doesn’t give them the right of way? What kind of a messed-up mixed message is that?”
My daughter tried to soothe me back into my post-massage state of relaxed euphoria by stroking my arm. That was sweet, I know. But it was too late. I was outraged!
I drove home astounded by what I had witnessed. Yet, over the next few days as my righteous indignation slowly subsided, I realized that I am not guiltless. I, too, have been the author of mixed messages. After all, how many times had I asked someone a question with my mouth, yet didn’t truly listen to their answer with my ears?
If I am to be honest, I probably can’t make it through even one day without delivering a mixed message of some sort. Maybe that’s why I no longer drive a big pickup. Or, maybe it’s because last time I went to the day spa I almost ended up with a Massage DUI. Regardless, I plan to exercise more care so that my messages aren’t mixed with anything other than unified intention.