R. J. Kinnarney
You know that thing; you're driving down the motorway, minding your own business, driving correctly. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre, pull out and, when it's safe to pull back in, in you go, back in your lane. And then....you meet the lane hogger.
You've pulled out into the middle overtaking lane (if you're in the UK, obviously. Otherwise, you're undertaking and that way lies madness...and possible prosecution.). There are the rear lights of the single car in front of you, going at the same speed as the cars in the left-hand lane. There's ample gap for this driver to pull over and make way for the stream of cars behind but no, on they go, oblivious to everyone else on the road. Or are they? Are they, in fact, doing this to wind up an entire motorway?
The traffic behind backs up and starts pulling out into the right hand overtaking lane. All of that traffic could have been spread safely across two lanes, if only lane-hogger had moved over.
Our minds frequently jump to the conclusion that this is a deliberate act but could it just be that this driver is frightened? They're frightened of making the tricky move from one lane to another and back again? So, it's safer and easier to sit where you know and where you feel comfortable. Lane-hogging is safe - for the person doing it but creates mayhem all around. It angers people, it frustrates them, it bores them.
Yesterday, one of my students wrote a story. This is a student who for a long time hated writing stories. She hated having to think up ideas and, worse still, having to get them down on paper.
She came up with a story; it evolved from discussions we'd had about school and about life. The story was totally unrelated to her life. It was very realistic but was in no way inspired by her own life. She knew, though, that there were other lives out there, other ways of being and that not everyone is as lucky as she freely admits she is.
The story was beautiful. It was real. It was poignant. She'd taken a risk. She'd thought very carefully about what she was doing and how she was portraying her characters. She'd asked questions. She had moved out into the middle-lane.
What about if there had been something in that middle-lane blocking her way, blocking her progress? She'd very likely have pulled back in and not attempted that manoeuvre again for a long time. But there was no obstruction. There was only encouragement and admiration.
Next time she writes a story, it might be back in her left-hand lane; it might be about a lovely family going on holiday and all getting on famously.
Or next time, she might move over into the right-hand lane and really accelerate away. If she does and I see her tail-lights flying off into the distance, I shall be nothing but proud of her bravery.
Changing lanes is good, it's helpful, it's useful. As long as it's done well, as long as you've researched how to do it, as long as you do it with thought and understanding for those around you.