The other day I was driving through the English countryside when a pulled up to the back of two Volvos.
The Volvo in front was almost new and still glistening silver.
The Volvo behind was a convertible, with the roof down. It wasn’t so new, but not too old either.
First question: What are you imagining that the rest of this story is going to be about?
The road we were travelling down together is one of the high passes in the Lake District and is the widest and best maintained of these high altitude roads. For most of the length of this road cars can pass each other with little need to slow down. Anything wider than a car and you have to exercise caution and very occasionally you have to make use of passing places for larger vehicles. This road climbs rapidly to a height of over 450m, twisting and turning as it goes. The views are fabulous as you make your way through steep high sided valleys and onto the top where you can see for miles, the route down is just as steep with an extra steep option if you’re so inclined.
Second question: What is your emotional response to what I’ve told you about this road?
The Volvo in front was driving cautiously, very cautiously. They would drive down the middle of the road to avoid being too close to the stone walls at either side. When a vehicle came in the opposite direction they would apply the brakes and practically stop to let the other vehicle pass. Many of the vehicles coming in the opposite direction would pass at speed.
A couple of times we approached a group of cyclists exercising their respiratory system of the steep slopes. The Volvo in front would only pass in the safest of places.
There are several places on this road where it’s possible to pull over and to let others pass. It’s quite a popular tourist route, it’s also a route people use for everyday activities, I’ve regularly had people pull over and let me pass as they stopped to enjoy the view. This driver never took any of these opportunities.
Third question: What word would you use to describe this first driver?
Every time the first Volvo slowed down the driver in the second Volvo would break heavily to avoid a collision. The braking would be accompanied with a set of hand gestures and articulations to the driver in front. At almost every turn the driver of the second Volvo would vigorously shake their head at the driver in front. The driver of this second car had the roof down so I could see that they were an older gentleman, in their 60s perhaps, there was a lady in the passenger seat of a similar age. His favourite hand gesture was to make the shape of a hand gun and articulate to shoot the car in front.
As the first Volvo accelerated after each passing vehicle the second would accelerate loudly as they applied a heavy foot on the appropriate pedal.
The two cars would repeat the sequence of brake, heavy brake, hand gestures, accelerate, accelerate loudly, brake…
Fourth question: What word would you use to describe this second driver?
It was a glorious sunny day and I’d just completed a fairly long walk from which I was feeling a weathered glow. As I watched these two drivers making their way through the glorious scenery I decided that it was time to challenge my own perspectives on the drivers immediately ahead.
I had my initial words for both of them, neither complimentary.
Could other words be applicable? What about different perspectives?
Fifth question: What other words could apply to both these drivers?
After descending down the other side of the steep pass it was time for me to leave the duelling dancing duo and to plot my own course. They carried on towards one of the Lake District’s major centres, I took a short cut to avoid it. There were no vehicle on this road and I was free to drive at my own pass in my on flow.
I recently heard someone suggest that people will decide on whether they are coming back to a place within the first 15 minutes of being there. if you run a restaurant and make people wait more than 15 minutes it doesn’t matter how good the food is they’ve already decided on the likelihood of a return visit. that’s how quickly we define our perspective.
One of the things that defines the human race is our ability to imagine, yet, so often we choose not to exercise that skill.