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Speak Up MAG
At 8:15 p.m., I walked quickly out of a mass at my church. It had run 15 minutes late, and I knew my mom or dad had to be waiting. I scanned the parking lot in search of one of their cars and went limp when I saw my dad waiting in his little red Honda
“Get in! Get in! Why are you so late all the time? And why do you always slam that door so hard?”
The ride home was not much more than five minutes but each minute dragged; we were stuck behind an older man who wasn’t going more than ten miles an hour. I didn’t say a word, but I knew what was coming. My dad drove up to the bumper of the man’s car and began to complain, “Learn how to drive, Grandpa! This isn’t a Sunday drive!”
He impatiently slammed the steering wheel with his hands, wrinkling his forehead and crunching his eyebrows. His lips opened slightly and his jaw tensed. I could see his teeth biting down. His stare conveyed annoyance and frustration.
I wasn’t scared since it wasn’t the first time I had seen him act this way, but I was annoyed. “Dad, stop it. Don’t scare him. Why do you always-”
He cut me off, “Get your foot off the brake! I better not get stuck at the light because of this jerk!” Of course, the light made its change from yellow to red.
The older man got to the light just as it was changing and slowly drove away. You’re free! Drive away quick, I thought, before we catch up. Go home in peace. I looked over to my dad.
“Can you believe that, Steph? I get stuck at every single stinkin’ light. There are so many stupid, stupid drivers out there.”
What gives him the right to yell at someone? I thought. He thinks because he is supposedly a good driver that he can yell at people who aren’t as capable. Anger built inside me and I knew I better not start, but since I thought I had a good point, I decided it was worth taking the risk.
“What makes you so special that you can yell at this man? What if I yelled at my friends when they asked me for help with their biology homework? You think it would be okay if I yelled at them and called them stupid just because I knew something they didn’t?”
I looked out the window, trying to catch my breath, unsure of what his reaction would be. It could range from a silent moment of dumbfounded confusion to an explosion of temper and yelling as he shouted his point, thinking that by increasing his volume he would increase the validity of his point.
“You know, Steph, I think you are going to be a psychologist someday,” he said, throwing me for a loop. The last time I tried to say something, he had fumed, “Don’t tell me how to drive! If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it! You really need to think about what you say before you talk. You know it’s going to make me mad!” Usually, he’d be angry that I would doubt his superior authority, but this time, I had really gotten through to him. By controlling himself, he was accepting the basic principle of what I had said.
As we pulled into our driveway, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. Seemingly, it had been a short drive home from church during which an argument took place, but I felt that it had been the most productive and meaningful car ride of my life.