Common Ground

Common Ground

Every now and then my mom and I stumble into a scene that reminds us that despite growing up in different countries at different times, we’re sharing the same life lessons.

On Friday night, we were pulling out of the parking lot near our hole-in-the-wall sushi place when we were stuck behind a slow black suv.  The suv sat at the stop sign just in front of us for what seemed an eternity as it flashed its brake lights at us. 

Impatient driver that I am, I became flustered and started venting to my mom about inexperienced drivers.  She egged me on (having herself almost been run down several times on this stretch of road) and I cursed at the suv with the USC license plate holder.  A block later, when the suv weaved to my right,  I promptly and loudly revved my engine and zipped by it.  “Take that, dumb USC driver,” I angrily thought.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the driver waving at me as she called my name. 

At the next stop sign, I pulled over.  “You guys cannot do that to me,” I yelled out my window.  “Do you know how little patience I have for bad drivers,” I laughed at my friends and neighbors.  “We just wanted to say ‘Hi!'” they protested.

I laughed at myself and was embarrassed by the lack of patience and kindness I exhibit when lost in the universe of my own vehicle. 

My mom then recalled a time several years ago when she was boarding a bus in Mexico.  She had scoped out her seat and was fairly sure she had managed to score some extra arm room when a larger woman with lots of bags sat next to her. 

My mom’s description of her inner irritation mirrored what I had just lived (although she was less charitable about the size, cleanliness, and looks of the woman sitting next to her).  I laughed as she described her bitchy younger self and the unkind thoughts she had had about the woman. 

She continued, “Y luego la señora me dice, ‘Prima, hola, que gusto verte aqui.'”

She laughed at the memory of her embarrassment upon finding out that the woman sitting next to her was her cousin and that they had a five-hour bus ride ahead of them.

Then my mom smiled at me in the full knowledge that despite all of our differences, we share the same instincts and seem to have the same lessons to learn.

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