Have you heard of a zipper merge, while driving?
If not, this is when there is a line of cars trying to merge into traffic (or two lanes merging into one lane), the traffic and merging cars alternate one after the other; much like how a zipper works, each tooth alternating to form one zipped line. Many driving schools teach it and yours likely did.
I cannot recall if my school taught it (in Illinois we had fewer highways), I only remember learning from people I drove with the opposite behavior: frustration with someone who was trying to merge into my lane that I had been driving in all this time. “Merge behind me! Screw up someone else’s morning drive!” I would think. I would get seriously offended when someone used the entire lane to merge into my lane, rather than merging earlier. “They saw the signs that said, ‘merge ahead,’ they should have merged sooner,” and armed with this self-righteous indignation, I would aggressively refuse to let someone merge ahead of me, often riding the bumper of the car in front of me.
We have all been there. We have all been the one driving or riding in a car that was trying to merge into a lane, and someone refused to let us in. And we have all been driving or riding in the car in the main lane frustrated that someone seemingly gets to “cut” the line we were (im)patiently stuck in–longer than they. Or maybe we ever so nicely let one or even two cars in a different merging lane earlier and so we paid our dues, now this new car in this new lane is just going to have to wait until someone else nicer comes along to let them in—or they must bully themselves in. But if we all just performed the zipper merge, one after the other, traffic would move so much faster for everyone, even if it puts us, personally, eight (8) feet further back than we would have been originally.
When I reflect on this—daily—on whatever drive I am on and I inevitably must let someone merge in front of me or rely on someone else to let me merge in front of them; I think about how the act of driving, and specifically merging, is a great metaphor for life. How we are all eternally traveling somewhere with other people who need to move with us. Which is why we should always wish and work for a better life for those coming after us, even if it may not benefit ourselves personally. Climate change, income inequality, racism, disability inequality… the list goes on. It’s all about sharing space with others, often putting others before ourselves, and recognizing that while we may have “paid our dues” in some fight previously, we are all on the highway of life and there’s constantly a new fight—a new lane, a new group of cars merging.
And if we all just behaved with a pinch of kindness then maybe we will all move in the right direction just a little bit faster.
P.S. Remember, construction is always a necessary evil we all must deal with!