A light blue car stalls in the right lane of a major highway. A backup ensues. It’s 6:45 a.m. on Monday.
Within 10 minutes, the stalled car is pushed to the side, sticking out ever so slightly onto the highway.
Within those same 10 minutes, the backup has grown to more than a mile of highway, with no end in sight.
Now cars coming in the other direction begin to slow down, rubber-necking their way past the obstruction.
It’s not even 7:00 a.m. yet, and traffic in both directions has come to a near standstill.
The main roads feeding to and from the highway have backed up as well.
Bob, the CFO of a large company downtown, leaves his house in the suburbs and heads toward the highway. Running late already, he needs to make up time. He believes taking the highway will help.
Within seconds, he knows that something isn’t right. Cars ahead of him are bumper-to-bumper, and he’s still a mile away from the highway.
Bob curses his circumstances and pounds the dashboard. He’s going to miss a very important meeting, so he picks up his cell phone.
Cheryl, Bob’s secretary, wonders why he is being so rude on the phone. She shakes her head after the call, wondering why she puts up with his ranting.
According to Bob’s directive, Cheryl has to drop everything she is doing to reschedule his meeting. Contacting seven people and coordinating seven schedules will take up much of her morning, causing her to fall way behind for the day.
Later, Amy waits at a restaurant for her birthday lunch with Cheryl, her best friend. It’s 12:10 p.m. and Cheryl is never late.
More time passes and still no Cheryl. Amy, feeling like a loser sitting by herself on her birthday, calls Cheryl to ask where she is. Cheryl, flustered and overwhelmed with work, is short with Amy on the phone. She had completely forgotten Amy’s birthday.
After the call, Amy feels distraught and embarrassed, and calls in sick for the remainder of the day. She can’t stop thinking about why Cheryl stood her up on her birthday.
That night, Amy can’t sleep, tossing and turning.
The next morning, she is completely exhausted from being awake all night. She’s a bit depressed as well.
The sun is bright that morning. As Amy floors the gas in order to merge onto the highway, she fails to notice a light blue car sitting on the side of the road, partially in her way. It is the same car that stalled the previous day and had never been removed.
Before she can react, she rear ends the light blue car, causing her own car to slide into oncoming traffic. The first car to hit her flips over, killing the mother, who is driving the car and seriously injuring her four-year-old daughter in the back seat.
Eight more cars crash while trying to avoid the initial accident. This causes a traffic jam that made the previous day’s delay seem like a walk in the park.
In the end, there were one fatality and four seriously injured people, including the four-year-old child.
Fortunately, the child recovers. However, she is traumatized over losing her mother and is impacted for the rest of her life.
Sometimes we think that what we do doesn’t impact others. The truth is, everything we do impacts others in some way, shape, or form.
* This story is from Geese’s book, It’s All About Me.