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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

The Man Who Holds Up the Line

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

The two lane road that cuts through the Snohomish Valley is posted with a 35 mph sign. And really, why would you want to go faster than that? Every hundred yards are so are curves posted with 20 mph signs, so rushing really has no payoffs. It’s a sort of “hurry up and wait” scenario.

Besides, in the early morning of my week day travels, the sun is just now often cutting through the low lying fog, illuminating stalks of corn with shimmering tassels. Or the blueberry fields peek just above the fog in perfect unending rows across the valley. On one such morning, as I reveled in the growing rays of light, a car approached from behind and began to menace my back bumper. The driver floored the accelerator and passed a double yellow line, ignoring the safety of the oncoming traffic, only to come to rest in front of me at the red light.

Sitting directly behind the driver as we waited for the light to change, I must admit my sanctimonious feelings were at an all time high. After all, this driver had been so impatient, he had let his emotions take over. I am sure in his mind’s eye he was going to gain valuable time, and I wondered if he even noticed looking in his rear view mirror, that his efforts were folly. Or if he noticed my smug, self righteous smile.

That smugness disappeared when I encountered The Man Who Holds Up the Line. I first met him about five years ago in the elementary school drop off. In this drop off line, there are rules posted, the first of which is “Parents, do not get out of your car.” And yet every morning, The Man Who Holds Up the Line would get out of his car, walk around to his young son, and hug him deeply. As his son walked off, he would wave and call out, “I love you,” before getting back into his truck leaving staff and fellow parents frustrated.

Waiting in line to drop off my granddaughter as she resumed in-person school, I had assumed his children had graduated to middle school. So it was a surprise to me when this same morning, as the signal was given to release our children and grandchildren from our cars and move forward, that none of us could move. The Man Who Holds Up the Line was back with a new, young student..

I felt a rush of frustration flood into my body. Then it overflowed out of my mouth and hung in the air. My granddaughter and I bonded in our frustration with this parent who could not follow the rules…who seemed so oblivious to the needs of others… As we waited, our impatience multiplied and I could feel the tension increase in the car.

I hurriedly dropped her off and got back on to the road and was unexpectedly flooded with the memory of the Man in the Fast Car.

If The Man In The Fast Car were to meet an untimely end in this moment, his heart would be probably still be full of rage, indignation, and frustration at the slowness of the world.

But if The Man Who Holds Up The Line were to meet an untimely end, his heart would be full of relaxed, oblivious love. And if his child, God forbid, were to meet an untimely end, his heart would be full of the essence of being inconveniently loved with reckless abandon.

Which got me to thinking: how do I want to spend those last precious moments with my

granddaughter waiting in line? If my words are focused on my frustration with The Man Who Holds Up the Line, then what she learns from me is that following rules is more important than stealing small moments of love. If I complain about the time lost, what she learns from me is that a schedule is more important than taking that extra time to show love. If my last few minutes, with her are spent expressing frustration, she only learns impatience instead of just abiding in each precious moment together..

So, I hope I get stuck behind The Man Who Holds Up The Line tomorrow and every day. And if I do, I want to say to my beautiful, thoughtful granddaughter, “I am so glad he is holding up the line…I get to spend a little more time with you.”

Maybe in the waiting, we can tell jokes or play games.. Maybe in the waiting we can share dreams about the future, both hers and mine. And maybe in the waiting , I can learn to practice inconvenient, oblivious, reckless love in the opportunities provided by The Man Who Holds Up the Line.

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