My husband has recently developed an obsession with an app called Waze and uses it regularly to navigate the highways and byways, avoiding traffic delays along the way. It is a real-time navigation system that provides the fastest route from Point A to Point B taking into consideration recently received information about traffic delays. "Wazers" continually update information into the system which is then used to notify other "Wazers" of the current traffic conditions. Although the concept seems incredibly helpful, particularly for longer road trips, it is my opinion that you really need a co-pilot to properly input data, focus on updates, and drive safely.
This past weekend, on our way home from a family getaway, my son take on the role of co-pilot, a job he thoroughly enjoyed. We had been on the road for a little over two hours when Waze informed us that there would be a significant delay on Route 81 and suggested an alternative route. Of course, my husband and son thought this was a great option and we exited Route 81 onto an unknown rural road. After several turns left and right, we found ourselves driving parallel to the highway and my husband and son were both feeling quite proud of themselves. That was until they noticed that the cars ahead were slowing down.
It seems other drivers had received the same information from Waze and this alternative route now had its own traffic issues. As we crawled along the two-lane road, my son announced that Waze was suggesting yet another alternative route and we would need to turn right ahead. I warned him that we should not blindly follow this suggestion when we didn't have a clue where we were or where it was taking us. My husband did not agree and jumped at the opportunity to follow blindly. We found ourselves whipping along a dirt road, through farmland, up steep inclines, and around sharp corners. It seemed to be a one lane road, which proved not be the case when we narrowly avoided another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. My three children and my husband thought this was quite an exciting adventure and were enjoying every moment. I was not so convinced and tried to push my anxiety aside. I couldn't help but question our decision and warn my family that something didn't feel right. I made an attempt to focus on the cows, the beautiful mountains, and the rolling hills. Just as I started to relax, I noticed the approaching brake lights.
Ahead of us, approximately nine cars were stopped, sitting completely still. What made this curious sight more alarming was that the drivers and passengers were getting out of their cars and slowly making their way down the gravel road toward a lovely historic bridge spanning a large stream. Shockingly, an eighteen wheeler sat atop the bridge and a moving company employee was attempting to direct the driver as he attempted to back up and re-enter the bridge. After several attempts, it was quite apparent that the truck was not getting over the bridge.
I could feel the frustration and anger start to rise as we watched this scene unfold before us. We were hopelessly stuck as car after car came up behind us and parked. The situation seemed dire and I made a conscious effort to avoid the words, "I told you so."
As I sat in silence watching the truck make yet another attempt to straighten out and cross the bridge, I noticed a friendly older woman come out onto the porch of a beautiful farmhouse sitting next to the river. She was smiling and shaking her head. She made her way down the hill and exclaimed, "Well, we haven't had this much action in 20 years! This is so exciting! Listen, if you're all stuck here for awhile, don't worry, I've got plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers in the house as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There's also a set of lovely adirondeck chairs next to the water. Feel free to go sit over there while you wait."
Her genuine hospitality and kind spirit shocked me. She was so welcoming and peaceful and she made this difficult situation seem almost positive. At this point, I also took the time to look around at the individuals gathered outside their cars. This was a group from such a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and places. Groups of individuals started forming and conversations arose, people were sharing where they were coming from, and how they had followed the navigation system in an attempt to avoid traffic. Instead of anger and frustration, people were laughing and enjoying themselves on the side of a dirt road, somewhere in western Virginia.
That moment made me stop and realize it's all about your attitude during a tough situation. Life is much more enjoyable when we find the connections to others and take the time to immerse ourselves in our community. It shouldn't happen only when we are forced to stop moving so quickly through our lives. This experience was "a slice of life" because it was short-lived, ending as quickly as it started. Within a few more minutes, the truck found a way to make just enough room to allow each and every car to pass over the bridge leaving our brief taste of fellowship and bonding in the rear view mirror.