From the Pulpit: Sign language and other motorist kindness

While I was driving down Pierce Avenue, the motorist ahead of me abruptly slammed on his brakes to turn left. I was able to stop my car safely, as did the driver behind me, although she punctuated her screeching halt with a blast from her horn directed, I presumed, at me.

It hadn’t been my fault! Looking into my rear view mirror and lifting my arms helplessly I tried to say by sign language that I had no choice but to stop very quickly.

She waved her arms back at me in a way that might have meant she regretted her action, but I couldn’t be sure.

We each continued on our journeys until arriving at the intersection of Pierce and Ingleside avenues where she eased into the turn lane beside me, rolled down her passenger side window and graciously apologized, saying that her body had lurched into her horn. She wanted me to know that she had not done it on purpose.

No harm done. But it was more than that. It was goodness done. She went out of her way to atone for things. Maybe she turned left precisely so she could set things right. Kindness was extended.

Making this minor incident more interesting was that it mirrored one that had happened just an hour earlier in another part of town with a different female motorist, although that time I did the explaining.

Pulling into a parking space to give blood, I opened my door and began leaning into the parking lot when two things happened simultaneously. Remembering that I needed to take my Red Cross Donor Card with me, I suddenly leaned back into my car, slamming shut my door. At the very same moment, a motorist whipped into the spot next to me, the cringing expression on her face revealing that she thought she had driven me back into my car to avoid her ripping off my door.

After retrieving my card, she was still sitting in her car so I decided to explain to her that she’d done nothing wrong. I had some reservations about approaching her, though. Would she conclude an angry man was coming to yell at her? Did she think I might have a gun? For that matter, what would I do if she had a gun?

I kept walking anyway and when she rolled down her window I greeted her warmly and reassured her that her driving was just fine and she’d done absolutely nothing wrong. We exchanged pleasantries and that was that.

No harm done? I hope it was more than that. I hope that kindness was extended to her, just as it would later be extended to me by a different stranger.

Yes, road rage happens in Macon. Commuters can be careless and callous. Texters drive with abandon, seemingly impervious to the havoc they’re causing. But for all the heated disagreements that people have with one another and in spite of the recent act of racist terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina, all faiths still teach kindness -- and I believe most people still practice it.

Creede Hinshaw, a retired United Methodist pastor of 36 years, can be contacted at