My husband has always scoffed at the people who hang these yellow signs in the window of their car. Not that he doesn’t believe it’s important to drive safely around people with babies in their cars, but rather he feels that we should take care ALL of the time – not just when someone has a baby on board. I’d never given much thought to it either way, but a recent situation brought an irony to me.
I was traveling on business and driving from Boston to Norwalk, CT, to be interviewed on Channel 12 television there. It was a long drive – about 3.5 hours in total each way. In addition, there was difficult weather – it was raining so hard at some points, it was hard to see the car in front of me.
There was a car weaving in and out of the traffic. He had ridden on my bumper for a long time, and then I saw him tear around and dart in and out of the lanes trying to get an advantage. Of course there wasn’t very far to go, but this never seems to stop people from acting as if there is! Once he got in front of me, I noticed the yellow sign in his car window: “Baby on Board”. What??!! I had to get close to make sure I was reading it correctly and that it wasn’t some joke or sarcasm that looked like one of these signs. Once the rain cleared, it was there prominently displayed.
I sat in my car and marveled at the irony. Here was someone who cared enough about their own baby to post a sign asking others to be careful, but when it came to my car or anyone else on the road, apparently our children weren’t worth taking care for! This happens so often: It’s “my” family or “my” needs or “my” concern – but if it belongs to you, I don’t really have an interest.
Why isn’t your car and your family’s safety as important to me as my own? Let’s face it, if I caused an accident and hurt someone, I would care deeply, and hopefully most of us would. We don’t want to cause trouble, but we also sometimes don’t want to be bothered with someone else’s needs enough to really take care when we should. And we certainly don’t want to have to look out for someone else. I actually like to pick up the trash wherever I go, rather than leave it where it is. One of my friends saw me one time and asked, “Why do you bother with something that didn’t even belong to you?”
But doesn’t the earth belong to me? Aren’t all of the people in it deserving of care and attention to some degree? Shouldn’t I make a choice to take care and be careful, instead of simply ignoring the other millions of people and just caring about my needs and my concerns? I think so. I think if we simply went throughout our day and chose a couple of times to do something toward someone else in a thoughtful way, we’d actually shift our own experiences more positively. If I drove like everyone else had MY children in their car, I’d take much more precaution and care. If I acted like everyone I came into contact with mattered in some way or another to my life, I’d watch my words and my tone. If I felt I had responsibility for taking care, no matter whether I benefited or not, I’d offer much more help to those around me.
I don’t expect you to go out and try and save the world this week. But look for some small opportunity to treat someone else as if they really mattered to you. Pretend your baby IS on board, everywhere you go.