In the scriptures we are admonished, “but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt. 5: 39)
I’m all for turning the other cheek, however the admonition fails to take into account the situational nature for turning the other cheek.
Lunch at Costco
Last Friday my wife picked me up at work so we could eat lunch together as a family. My three-year old son and three-month old daughter were in the back seat as we drove to our chosen destination–Costco!
The parking lot at Costco is always busy and finding a parking spot can be difficult. Of course, my wife has parking karma and immediately found a spot in front of the store. While she was waiting for the other driver to vacate the spot she located, the driver of an SUV started backing up directly toward the side of our car.
My wife honked the horn to warn the other driver of the impending collision, but he kept backing out. I told my wife to move to the left and keep on driving forward. I immediately turned my head and glared at the brazen driver of the SUV. When my wife was safely in the parking space, I quickly exited the car and waited for the driver of the SUV to pass me.
He rolled down his window, posturing as best he could, and asked gruffly, “Do you have a problem?”
My reply was swift and thunderous.
“Yeah, I have a problem with your driving. You need to watch how you drive when other cars are behind you.”
The other driver gave me a scowl and then drove away.
“Merry Christmas,” I said sardonically as I waved good bye.
My wife looked at me disapprovingly, while I simply smiled and said, “He was just being a jerk.”
In this situation, the driver of the SUV shouldn’t have backed out with my wife directly behind him. Of course, I should have handled the situation differently, but I wasn’t in the mood to turn the other cheek.
Shopping for a Christmas tree
Later that night my wife and I ventured out again with our kids in tow, looking for a Christmas tree. We stopped at the local Home Depot and picked out the first tree we looked at.
The tree–a fine specimen of Noble Fir– was the perfect fit for our living room and didn’t need extensive trimming. We paid for it and then went to bring the car over to load it up and take it home.
As I started making my turn onto the driveway in front of the store, a full-size pick-up truck came barreling at my car going ~40 mph. The road had been clear when I looked previously, but was now menaced by a hot-headed speed demon.
My wife reached over and went directly for the horn. Her attempts to honk the horn failed, so I dutifully sounded the horn at the offending driver.
After I had exited my car to pick-up my tree, the driver of the truck turned around to confront me. Both he and his passenger exited and came toward me, cursing at me and making threatening gestures toward me.
I quickly surveyed my surroundings, noting the presence of the driver of the truck who looked like he wanted to kill me. To my left stood two Home Depot employees who looked like they were ready to jump in if needed. That was slightly comforting, only because I knew I’d probably be sore and possibly bloodied if they did need to jump in.
My attention turned quickly to my wife and children who waited for me in the car. For a split second I considered responding to the taunting of the boisterous and rude driver and passenger, but thinking of my wife and children and the fight that would likely ensue if I opened my mouth (and listening to the Spirit this time), I instead stood still and said nothing.
The crowd of people in the lot spoke for me, chastising the men for being bullies and overly rude. As a parting shot, my wife looked over at the men (I use that word loosely) and said, “Are you happy now?” Of course, their reply cannot be written here.
Justice (by proxy) is served, finally!
Saturday morning as I worked my shift as a police volunteer, a call of road rage in progress came out over the radio. I listened intently to the details of the call, hoping that an officer was nearby. As luck would have it, a lieutenant was 30 seconds away from the melee.
Apparently the driver of an older-model pick-up truck was using his vehicle as a battering ram against the driver of a passenger car for some perceived offense. I can only imagine how panicked the driver of the car must have been as her vehicle was rammed by the other driver.
I’m not sure if the lieutenant took the driver of the pick-up truck out of the car at gunpoint–I would have–but the violence ended as quickly as it started.
As I reviewed the notes of the road rage call on my mobile data terminal in my patrol car, I saw that the driver of the truck had bench warrants out for his arrest. In the end, the driver of the truck was arrested for the warrants AND the road rage incident. Justice is served!
Q&A: Turning the other cheek
After returning home on Saturday, I did a search on LDS.org about turning the other cheek. I found this short article in the New Era that made for good reading after my cheek turning incidents.
In the situations I faced at Costco and Home Depot, I’m curious to know how you would have handled the situation. What would you have done differently? What do you think of the Q&A in the New Era on turning the other cheek?