On Monday, I was driving toward downtown midday. Traffic was slow as the four-lane road came to a major intersection; knowing I could turn right (and maybe avoid a bit of the bottleneck?) at the next intersection, I swiftly flicked on my signal, checked for cars in the next lane, and moved to the outside lane (it should be said, it was sunny, the sunroof was open, and i was listening to country music–Monday is my day off, so imagine it says “on Saturday…” not “Monday”).
Suddenly: HHOOONNNKKKK!!!!! A very loud, very very long car horn was clearly very angry that I’d changed lanes in almost-stopped traffic.
Much more disappointed (that I’d finally “met” a mean person in South Carolina–I’d begun to think they didn’t let unkind people in at the border) than mad, I cast a glance to my left when I turned right at the intersection (as much to make sure there wasn’t any traffic as to see who’d honked so angrily), and a mom (or, a woman with a full child’s seat in the back of the car), holding a half-eaten apple gestured at me with her free finger, glaring.
My eyes went wide, but my shock was less over her reaction, which was bewildering enough!, and more over what her apparent anger had done to her face. Her contorted visage was just plain ugly (not to say by any means that I imagine she was ugly when smiling, or generally!). (Unrighteous) Anger makes a person ugly.
Over the last week, when I feel reaction and frustration and anger bubbling up inside me, I remember this woman’s face; knowing that if I allow the reactive, unrighteous anger to control me, my insides (and my outsides!) will be just as ugly has her face at that moment–and may have even longer-lasting effects.