As I was driving home from Charlotte N.C. today, a heavy-duty truck came up behind me and closed to within less than 8 feet from my car. I hate tailgating anyway, but this was really unnerving since I was unable to change lanes for quite some time. When I finally pulled over to let him by, I made a mental note of the information on the side of the truck so I could give the company a piece of my mind about their drivers.
I came home and wrote an incredibly sarcastic letter about how any company that cared so little about life and property could never be trusted with the service they provide, and consequently, I would never call them for anything (never mind that I would never use that service anyway — they don’t know that). I made sure to include the exact location and time of day the incident occurred, so they could properly fire the driver for being such a snot.
The problem of course, was that when I was proof-reading the email, my heart did not feel right. And despite the fact that he was in the wrong and could even kill somebody if not stopped, my motive was pure revenge, not protecting the public. Try as I might, I could not pretend otherwise. Truth is that people tailgate excessively all the time. It was my opportunity to make him pay that had spurred me to write the letter. Yet in the back of my mind I could hear echos of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus saying something about returning good for evil.
Well I did save a copy of the email so I could show my wife what a goof I am sometimes. We can have a good laugh and throw it away. Then I rewrote the letter so my conscience would be free of any misgivings about the safety of others. Although I could not resist adding a little sarcasm:
“Please advise your truck drivers that tailgating at 10 feet behind a car while doing 70 miles per hour is incredibly dangerous to both life and property. And given that your company name is very nicely painted on the side of the truck, it is probably not the kind of advertising you want to engage in. I have no desire for revenge, so I will not disclose the location or time of this event. But it was some of the worst driving I’ve seen in a long while. Please train your drivers. Regards …”
At that, it no longer felt like revenge. So I sent it. And what I really learned was not so much about revenge, as the value of paying attention to my heart as I do even very ordinary things.