During this lock down in France, once or twice a week I have been volunteering at a food bank in Antibes.
My job is simple. I drive a big, beat up old truck to a warehouse on the outskirts of Nice, and then pack the truck with boxes of food and then drive back to Antibes and unpack the truck.
On my way back to Antibes, driving the big, bulky, beat up truck down a narrow two lane road, I drove up behind a large semi truck stopped in front of me…
I waited several seconds and then instinctively tried to pass the 18 wheeler, but the truck driver (on purpose) pulled out to block me.
We were inches from getting into an accident.
When the truck driver stopped his truck to intentionally block me, he leaned out the window and screamed at me in French, calling me an idiot, a fool and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Anyone who knows me, understands I don’t react well with people who speak to me in such a tone… and to be honest, unfortunately something clicked and I became very angry.
Aggressively, I pulled over on the side of the road and jumped out of the truck, mentally and physically ready to confront the truck driver who just spoke to me like a dog.
Ironically, I am fasting right now and should be calm, cool and collected… as I jumped out of the truck, all ready to punch the guy in the face or the very least tell him to go f* himself ….
… a soft wind, like a whisper in my ear … something came over me, and I immediately became a different person.
My anger was all gone. It was a beautiful experience.
I walked toward the man and said in French: “I am very sorry. I’m American and not used to driving this big truck…and stupidly tried to pass you. I am very sorry.”
Instantly, the aggressive truck driver started laughing and we slapped high fives, and I apologized again making fun of myself at being a terrible truck driver — and drove away with the truck driver smiling and laughing as we waved goodbye to each other.
You could see in the truck driver’s eyes a sense of peace and happiness come over him from our positive exchange.
Upon reflection, maybe he has his own issues and stresses that might have exacerbated his overreaction…
As I happily drove the 45 minutes back to the other warehouse, I reflected a lot on how my simple apology turned a very negative situation into one big laughing positive …
I thought of how different things would have been if I would have gotten out and screamed back at the man … and all the energy he and I would have wasted over nothing, which surely would have consumed me for several hours and ruined both of our days.
Hours later, I understood how this experience had made my day.
The friends I shared the story with told me that truck driver probably never had anyone come and apologize to him … and one friend pointed out “he will never forget you…or forget that moment instead of you fighting back, you apologized.”
My temper has protected me many times … but more often than not, it has wasted hours of my life being angry and upset, fighting over nothing.
Next time you face a similar situation where someone curses, shouts, speaks down to you or is just an asshole … try to smile and apologize, even if you don’t think you are wrong … or the very least don’t get sucked down by the negativity.
Meekness is not weakness.
How different life is when we seek humility regardless of whether it looks cool or not.
I am not a soft guy — so I share all this seeking wisdom and how it has made all the difference… by simply embracing and growing from negative experiences instead of being a victim, fighting and allowing myself to be consumed by negativity.
Yes, I know …. it is easier said than done, but regardless of how challenging things get in your life, try not to get pulled down and waste time arguing/fighting/shouting over nothing.
“Who is wise and understanding among you… By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”