Last Friday, on the way out to dinner with friends, we wound up in stop and go traffic because Friday at Rush Hour is always stop and go on the 405 freeway. The Toyota Corolla in front of us had a problem – his brake lights weren’t coming on!

This is frustrating, because it makes traffic changes just that much more unpredictable when you are the car following that problem. It was both side brake lights, though the middle light was also very dim and hard to see light up. My sweet spouse expressed that annoyance at someone who would drive along without resolving that kind of risky issue. I pointed out that it’s one of those cases where, as the driver, it’s hard to know it’s happening unless someone can clue you in – you can’t see your tail lights when you’re in the driver’s seat! The point was conceded, and we could not find a way from our position in traffic to let the other driver know, so we expressed a wish for someone to let them know soon.

Yesterday morning, on the way to work, I sat at my stop light as usual, waiting to get on the same reliable 405 freeway. To my right a car stopped short of the rest of his lane, parallel to me, honked, and yelled something at me. Okay, I roll down my window with a “What?” because he was clearly trying to relay something important. Well, those of you who understand foreshadowing already know… my brake lights (just the sides, not the top center) were not coming on at all. I thanked him, and nervously drove to work, unable to address the matter at the time. I counted on that lone center light, thankfully brighter on my car than on Friday’s Corolla.

On getting home my spouse had me hop back into my car and he was able to confirm that, sure enough, my brake lights needed some attention. My car was due for maintenance anyway, so I dropped her (yes, my car is a her) off at the dealership to get this resolved.

It made me realize that at the time we had that conversation my lights were likely already out. In fact, the car behind us could have been having the exact same conversation about us. And in the movie that is our life, the audience better laugh at that moment of dramatic irony!

I’m glad I didn’t judge that Corolla for driving with no brake lights… or else I’d feel really wretched right now.

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