While working a stint at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, or the BOE as we fondly refer to it, I had the awesome opportunity to observe several things. Now mind you, it has been quite some time since I have held a regular job in corporate America being an “At Home Mom” and all. But I was called to do my service to the County, and I went. So, I packed up my lunch in my little striped bag, got in my little car, and headed downtown to the BOE. I was so very excited to be heading back into the world of the gainfully employed. Allow me to share with you some of the things that I observed. One of the first things that I observed on my daily commute to and from work was the courteousness (facetious tone) of my fellow drivers. I observed a “STOP” sign that apparently did not really mean “STOP” because drivers were zooming past it like it was not even there. Hmmm, that was quite a peculiar occurrence, since I have been taught since my early childhood that red meant “STOP.” Then, I sat at a yellow yield sign that was being obliviously run by everyone, for about 5 minutes while drivers who had no obvious understanding of the word “YEILD” continued on in a long straight line, seeing us sitting there, but not even attempting to stop for one second to allow the merging traffic to come onto the roadway. Well, as I continued on my merry way to the BOE, I experienced yet another enigma; vehicles dashing right in front of me narrowly missing hitting my truck because they were trying to get out of the lane that it was quite evident had parked cars all along the street on the right hand side for about a half a mile down. Wow! That was close. Then vehicles moved through that flashing yellow “School Zone Sign” and past the public servant that was so diligently crossing the school children across the street in safety, so quickly, passing me as though I were sitting still while I moved at a snail’s pace through the zone. I on the other hand, thought the sign read “20 miles per hour.” Hmmm, that was odd. Yet another conundrum. Perhaps it was me that was mistaken, for it did not appear to have the same meaning for them as it did for me. Oh, and there were lots of conversations going on and people looking down at their cell phones. Amazing! Because I have never mastered the art of driving while looking down at my phone. And the motorist who zoomed past me in a 35 MPH zone, probably should have left just a bit earlier. Then they would not have had to speed to get to work. It certainly makes sense to me. And the people on the street as I walked from the parking lot to the BOE? Faces that looked like they were made of stone. I said Good Morning to a few, with no discernible response in return. I wanted to yell and tell them that “Hey, It’s ok to smile, to say hi, good morning or even nod your head in acknowledgement of another individual. Life cannot be that miserable or depressing that you can’t muster up a common courtesy. As one of my co-workers so eloquently put it, “Good morning is free, and a smile does not cost you anything.”
I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks. And from what I’ve learned I do know this; that while this scurrying back and forth everyday in our quest to achieve the American dream may indeed be a necessary evil, so to speak, it cannot, nor can we allow it to take the place of our very lives. Our humanity. We must continue to live, and love, and laugh, and to be happy, and to just enjoy our “God Given Lives.” We are all awesome and incredible individuals, with some beautiful smiles that can quite literally light up a room, who have all been given the opportunity to breathe the breath of life one more day. And we all deserve respect for who we are. And we must understand that a little common courtesy goes a very long way. So, we may not be able to come to a complete stop in our incessant quest for greatness, or cease from catering to our unremitting responsibilities, but we can surely allow just a little kindness for our fellow-man to come forth from our ever stone facades. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and so is the next person, and we must remember that. And I believe that if for just a moment, just one moment, we slow down, even stop, and just breathe in the very essence of what life is, God’s life, then we would suddenly remember that we are here for only a moment, an important moment, and that we must learn to value one another, to respect one another, to enjoy life and one another. And then, we will stop and smell the roses, while we still have time.