Driving somewhere? WWJD

From a priest friend:

The Light turned yellow

The light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up..

He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door.  She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally….I assumed you had stolen the car.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. APX says:

    I used to be terrible with road rage, and cause other people to get enraged by playing bumper tag, but with the help grace from Confession and a pretty good road rage sermon by Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, I’ve pretty much cured myself of road rage. What was once a litany of epithets and colourful language, is now accepting that I’ve “entered the sphere of idiots” and that it’s time to work on patience.

  2. Bender says:

    So . . . the bad person in the story is the cop, right? The cop who abused his authority and thuggishly decided to play the bully, throw his weight around, and teach this person a lesson?

    WWJD? When the cop tapped on the window, He would remind him that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. He would tell the cop that this is why He invented Confession.

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    I find that it helps — a LOT — to keep a Rosary on my gearshift, where I can’t miss it when I start the car.
    Those of you familiar with Atlanta traffic probably know that you have to be a tight and aggressive driver just to survive on I-285.
    Since I started praying the Rosary while driving, I haven’t even thought about swearing at other drivers —
    Bad language or abuse,
    I never, never use,
    Whatever the emergency;
    Though “bother it” I may
    Occasionally say,
    I never use a big, big D —

  4. Laura R. says:

    I’m interested to hear that an FSSP priest preached a road rage sermon. I don’t generally swear at other drivers, but have wondered about confessing such things as careless and/or overly aggressive driving.

    AnAmericanMother, I don’t even get on 285 or 75. But there are certain intersections I usually try to remember to pray about when approaching them.

  5. daddypops says:

    True story: I drive a lot. Never had a problem with Road Rage, although had been a witness or a target even more than once. Lot’s of talk radio as I drive. One morning, the talk radio topic IS road rage, with a guest psychiatrist holding court. He takes several calls, and is clearly enjoying the sound of his own voice. Next caller? Nice woman who admits she used to be impatient and want to “correct” poor choices she had witnessed on the road. “Then,” she says, “I realized that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior was born and lived and died for the idiot that cut me off just as sure as he did it all for me, and I wasn’t any more worthy of this grace than him. So I end up praying for him, and I found it is very easy to be patient with folks when you are praying for them.” The psychiatrist is thrilled with this “construct” that the woman has built to “redirect her energies.” She defends her method and her beliefs for a few moments while the host is trying to secularize her statements and focus on the “behavior.” She holds her ground. It is the prayer that returns the blessing of patience, and it works in all sorts of situations, not just the car. Now the host is getting really dismissive while congratulating the caller for devising this method to fool herself to control her own thoughts and “suffer the fools lightly.” She again relates that she has devised nothing, she just started listening to the gospel. So the host has played out his interest in the caller, and with a little bit of enthusiasm and a little more snarky charm, he summarizes the call and ends with one last challenge. Host: ..”and this works EVERY TIME?” Caller: “Oh Honey, it’s working NOW.” Go to commercial.

  6. AgnesVM says:

    Anger is a dangerous passion in many different ways. This is especially true when driving a huge vehicle at fast speeds. A few weeks ago a boy I knew in college was killed — deliberately run over — because of road rage. He was 22, leaving behind a 21 year old widow. People think they’d never do something like that, but enraged people have very little self-control and can lose the control they do have in an instant. That’s why people with strong passions and people who tend toward anger need to learn to stop their anger before it gets a hold of them. For advice on this I highly recommend St Francis de Sales’ chapter on anger.

    The perpetrator in this case was never caught. I pray that she’ll turn herself in, for her own sake more than anything. The guilt and secrecy could swallow her up. I hope she’s Catholic and one day will realize she has nowhere to go but to God and His mercy.

  7. Scott W. says:

    So . . . the bad person in the story is the cop, right?</i.

    Perhaps, but the other lesson is that if we are going to carry around the trappings of Christianity.,we ought to at least try to live up to the standards. If we are having a bad day, that is one thing, but the story as written suggests (with the inclusion of the cell phone and makeup) someone utterly neglegent of neighbors.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    I have to get on 285 to get anywhere, since we live in the little notch between 285 and 75. I used to drive SCCA rallies long ago, when I had a TR-6, but 285 scares me sometimes. Even though I drive the Big Ugly Dog Truck.
    Intersections that need prayer: Piedmont/Roswell/Blackland/Powers Ferry — Piedmont & Peachtree — Northside and 10th — Ponce and Moreland/Briarcliff. I’m sure I could think of more, actually, any place with a traffic light in Atlanta is dangerous!

  9. pablo says:

    “… I’ve pretty much cured myself of road rage…”

    Keep listening to the good Padre.

    Sooner or later you will hear we do not cure ourselves of anything.

    Even pagans can decide to change their behavior; they will still have the disease.

    God’s grace cures us.

    The strongest medicine in the world won’t cure anything if God’s grace will not allow it.

    Deo gracias.

    God bless Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; without him, the FSSP would not exist.


  10. digdigby says:

    Road rage is to anger like ‘anonymous sex’ is to lust.

  11. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Ha! I haven’t laughed that hard in several days.

    I’m awfully sorry that I didn’t take this story in the same serious way as some other posters. Well, no, I guess I’m NOT sorry. I think it’s FUNNY!


  12. Jerry says:

    @Laura R – “I’m interested to hear that an FSSP priest preached a road rage sermon”

    Laura, Fr. Ripperger’s Road Rage sermon (and many others) can be fount on this page. (it’s about 3/4 down the page, under the heading “Homilies given br Fr. Ripperger in Idaho”). Note the PenanceWare terms at the top of the page.

  13. Rachel says:

    I deliberately don’t have a Christian fish on my car, or any other obvious sign of my religion or politics. The reason is that I’m afraid I’ll annoy some other driver and hurt the cause.

  14. MikeM says:

    This reminds me about something I actually did once.

    About a year ago, I was coming off an on-ramp onto the highway and a big tractor-trailer cut me off trying to get to the exit just ahead. The trailer swung over into my lane, and I was almost run off the road. I had to slam on the brakes and pull as far over as I could. I wound up stopped with about an inch between my side mirror and the barrier on the side of the road, and the trailer just barely missed my car… I could have reached out and touched it.

    As the truck driver drove away, I saw a sign on the back of the truck that said “We only hire safe drivers. For questions of comments call [some phone number].” I couldn’t help myself… I called the number (safely using my bluetooth speaker) and said “Excuse, ma’am… Someone must have stolen your truck!”

  15. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I have a similar story to relate. Not about driving, however. A friend of mine and I were at a hotel for a conference. Sunday morning people were leaving the hotel, and it was busy at the desk. The desk guy made some kind of mistake, and my friend angrily chewed him out. She told me later how poor service was her “pet peeve.” She seemed to think the guy deserved to have her yell at him. I was shocked. What if that desk clerk had just worked three double shifts, had a sick kid at home, and had half a staff because everyone called in sick? (I’ve done plenty of service work and I’ve been there.) At that time I did not say anything. I did try to kind of say something later. I’m just not good at the admonishing thing. The conference we were at? Right to Life. Yes, you got it. P.S. I’m no longer friends with this person.

  16. albinus1 says:


    Bad language or abuse,
    I never, never use,
    Whatever the emergency;
    Though “bother it” I may
    Occasionally say,
    I never use a big, big D —

    What, never?

    (Sorry, sorry; someone had to say it! I’m glad to see that there are other Savoyards reading this blog!)

  17. albinus: I am reminded of HMS Pinafore.

    “What, never?” “Well, hardly ever!” 

  18. contrarian says:

    This is such a great story. I usually always mention driving behavior when I teach Aristotle, who argues that virtue is as virtue does.

    It should be remembered that, with the exception of professors and sociopaths, everyone is nice and cordial (and even helpful) in private, one-on-one conversations. As such, these sorts of conversations are not a good measure of a man’s virtue. Better measures include behavior on the internet, while driving, and at restaurants. Among other measures.


  19. APX says:


    I had to laugh when Fr. Ripperger was talking about the “Red Light District” along I90 there. I’m from Canada, eh, but I was driving to Oregon so I had to go through there. It’s such a short piece of highway, but it takes soooooo long to get through there. It’s literally, drive a block and hit a red light. Drive another block and hit another red for over an hour. It’s even more enraging when you drive a standard. Grrr! I’m getting road rage just thinking about it.

    @Laura R.

    I’m interested to hear that an FSSP priest preached a road rage sermon. I don’t generally swear at other drivers, but have wondered about confessing such things as careless and/or overly aggressive driving.

    I’ve seen careless/reckless driving in examination of consciences listed under the Commandment about not killing, and my priest, also FSSP did touch on it once during a sermon, particularly people confessing it simply because they’re sorry because they smashed their car, and/or got a hefty ticket, and had nothing bad happened, they wouldn’t bother to confess it and wouldn’t be sorry for it. Sooner or later it will catch up to you and it’ll be baaaad.

  20. jflare says:


    I thought this quite hilarious myself. I think I’d be applauding an officer who acted in this manner. I don’t mind law enforcement offering a not-so-subtle hint about practicing what we preach.
    Behavior DOES means something!

  21. Supertradmum says:

    Love the story. We must be consistent in our practice of virtues and as St. Therese, the Little Flower of the Little Way reminds us, it is in the small, daily happenings that we show Love to God and work toward our salvation in Him. Driving is just one more area to exhibit patience, kindness, forbearance, etc.

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    “Then give three cheers and one cheer more
    For the Rosary that the gearshift wore . . .”
    I’m pleased to report that G&S has been successfully transmitted to the next generation, as my daughter had a ball in her college productions of Pinafore and PIrates.
    Great stuff that never gets old.

  23. MyBrokenFiat says:

    There is so much awesome in this post that I think my head just ‘sploded. <3, <3, <3 it!

  24. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Contrarian –

    I am going to have to be contrarian. Sociopaths – like Ted Bundy – are wonderful in one on one conversations. They are known for their magnetic personalities. Once they have you in their trap, then they kill you, etc. I do see your point, however. It’s easy to be nice when there’s no pressure and all is going well. We’re all like someone carrying a bucket of water. When someone bumps into us or the path gets uneven, it spills out. What spills out depends on the kind of person you are inside.

  25. RichardT says:

    AnAmericanMother says: “I find that it helps — a LOT — to keep a Rosary on my gearshift”

    I am reminded of my late grandmother, who kept a St Christopher medal glued onto the dashboard of her car.

    Very good, until one day the glue failed as she was going round a roundabout, and St Christopher slid off towards the passenger seat. Grandma automatically reached across to catch it, taking her eyes off the road, and drove into the back of a cyclist.

    Fortunately no-one was hurt too badly, but it has put me off holy aids to driving ever since.

  26. RichardT says:

    @ AnAmericanMother

    Great that you had a TR-6; excellent cars.

    I had a TR-6 engine (the fuel injected version; not sure you were allowed that in the States) squeezed into a Triumph GT6. 20% lighter than the TR-6, so it went like a rocket. We timed 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, but never knew what the top speed was because it was still accelerating when the speedo ran out at 140 mph. Superb handling as well. Great car when it was going, but it kept falling apart.

    Sorry for drifting off-topic!

  27. irishgirl says:

    I used to have a bumper sticker, ‘Listen To Your Mother-Pray The Rosary, Wear The Scapular’ on the back bumper of one of my earlier cars. And RichardT, I can relate to your grandma’s St. Christopher medal. I once had a small statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that got ‘unglued’ from my dashboard and fell off….luckily I never took my eyes off the road and hit anyone!
    I don’t have any ‘holy reminders’ such as Rosaries, medals or statues visible in my current car. I do have a small image of Our Lady of Grace in the console where I keep my tapes, however.
    I also get rather annoyed when other drivers zoom past me when I’m trying to stay at or under the speed limit. And when they do decide to pass me, I keep my eyes straight ahead and not see if they’re giving me the finger.
    Hey, I like the G&S references!
    And I didn’t know that Father Ripperger did a ‘road rage sermon’!

  28. Patti Day says:

    I am reminded of my mother-in-law who kept a whole altar on her dash board. I kid you not. She had a plastic altar about the size of a kleenex box with a little statue of the Sacred Heart with two little candles. My father-in-law won it at the K of C. I never heard either of them utter one bad word, but my husband did observe his mother coming down the wrong lane on the highway one time. I guess the little altar worked in that circumstance too, because my mother in law made it home without incident. They have both gone to their final reward. May they rest in peace.

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