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Happy Trails

Dear Monument Street Driver from Thursday Morning;

Hi. You don’t know me, but I sincerely hope that whatever emergency you were engulfed in today resolved favorably for you and your family, if you have one.

Perhaps you don’t know the speed limit on Monument Street is 30 m.p.h. I was doing 40 (shame on me) and you were following urgently with eight inches between my rear bumper and the front fender of your white Mercedes SUV.

You were also swerving across the solid line (trying to pass perhaps, on our town's most unpassable road), gesturing wildly with your hands, and yelling (I can only assume this from having a close view of your mouth in my rear-view mirror because, blessedly, I could not hear you.) Also, your long, enviable dark blonde hair was flowing untamed as you swerved (and yelled). Do you live here? I confess… I hope not.

Were you angry? Desperately late and deeply over-extended (join the club)? Trying to get to yoga, work, therapy, school, day care or divorce court on time? I understand. Because I have been you. We all have.

I have committed innumerable sins while navigating our narrow, winding, country roads filled with joggers, schoolchildren, and turtles: speeding, texting, flossing, sandwich making, nagging, eating, applying mascara, reading, writing, shopping, packing, and relieving myself (okay, just once and not on our roads – fellow Boston commuters will sympathize).

I have been in a hurry and arrogantly assumed that where I needed to be was more important than anyone else on the road. I have grumbled at Bedford Road cross walks and silently cursed Lowell Road wild turkeys for slowing me down. I have regrettably murdered the occasional East Street chipmunk, albeit accidentally. I have audibly cursed at trailing a yellow school bus on Westford Street, and I have rolled my eyes at our 25-mph speed limit approaching our town center (what I would give to see you, Monument Street Driver, on that strip!)

But I want to say two things to you, Monument Street Driver. First, I forgive you. I understand the place you were in this morning. I hope you recover from your anger, lateness, need-to-be-first or whatever terrible force was driving you (pun intended) today.

Second, thank you. For illuminating vividly someone I do not want to be. I recently spent two weeks out west, where the speed limits on two lane interstates are 80 m.p.h., and there is endless land, mountains and sky in any direction, and...  less hurrying. At the ranch I was fortunate enough to visit, the wrangler’s work day involves searching on horseback for dead or injured cattle across miles of mountainous, difficult terrain teeming with grizzly bears, wolves and entitled east coast tourists. He commutes each day at an appropriate pace, deliberately, carefully, acutely aware of his surroundings. His life depends on it.

And yet, it’s no different for us. School’s open. The backpacks, deer, and cyclists are out in full force. And um, regular people too.

Let’s be grateful for what we have in our small town, including our roads. Let’s slow down, and stay alive to get where we need to be. That place is different, but no less important, for each of us.

Happy trails, Monument Street Driver, wherever you’re going.

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