Letting in traffic squared

I drive a lot. Mainly to and from work. This means I drive a lot in rush hour traffic. In a mayor European capital to boost. Anybody who does this, knows that you are hard pressed not to ones in a while rely on the kindness of strangers in letting you into a exit lane that you missed. Anybody with an ounce of humanity in them will understand the urgency of this need; because if a kind soul does not let you in front them, the resulting detour will easy cost you half an hour, while letting you in will cost the kind stranger 30 secs (that is still not a price to be ignored or devalued… I did in fact steal/was gifted them from someone now worse off).

First off; A BIG FREAKING THANK YOU! to all that have ever let me in front of them. You rule! Please believe me when I say that I feel really grateful and spent a lot of energy the rest of day trying to repay the universe the Karma I must owe for this gesture of friendliness from a stranger. Not least, because I always feel bad that maybe you thought I was trying to cheat my way ahead, and still you saw passed that and properly figured that if I did indeed try to cheat you can still spare me the 30 secs if that makes me somehow better off. Wow!

Now here is my question to you dear reader however. And please help, cos I am lost here. If you have been let in by a kind driver, are you then suppose to also let in someone in front of you if this need materializes?

Are you compelled to continue the precise nice gesture shown to you? Let the spirit of the act ignite new ones?

Or, are you now obliged to be the bad guy and make sure no one gets let in front of you, and thereby the kind person behind you? I mean you did just take 30 sec from the driver behind you, who are you to make that a minute? Two? Ten?

Have a nice day. I am happy you took the time to read this and maybe help solve the issue.

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3 Comments on “Letting in traffic squared”

  1. Nicki Brøchner says:

    So if I understand the premise of your question correctly – Does the act, that someone showed me kindness, in return obligates me to show the same kindness? I would say no. Because if that where the fact, then how can I know that I have been shown kindness in the first place? I mean what if the person letting me in front of him where doing so because he where obligated to do so because of an earlier act by a third person?

    I believe that for kindness to be truly kindness it should be pure, and something done out of a sense of duty. And for kindness to be pure, it should be done motivated only by the idea of doing something kind to someone, in the moment. And yes isn’t that where kindness gets its extra value? That you have the idea of someone doing something out of selflessness and not out of a moral obligation and debt?

    • stefanecho says:

      Thanks for you comment Nicki! You have understood my question 50% I guess.

      I did ask if an imperative to continue a kindness shown to you materializes when you receive the kindness, but my question had another edge; Since doing good carries a cost, such an imperative will cost the original enactor of the deed more and more as the deed is continued. What I am basically saying, is, that a problem arises of risk management or hedging the cost of doing good (if in fact your deed has the power to inspire) and maybe that is what is passed onto the receiver of the original deed? An imperative to limit cost exposure? Alternatively, will such a concern for cost affect, consciously or sub consciously, the attractiveness of being nice?

      Moving on to your next point. What is pure? I mean, in order to act, I have to think, and to think means to value actions in relation to estimated cause and effect (including cost).

      For that matter, I am really interested in hearing what you consider duty? From where does this materialize? Is there more or less of it today? Will one duty telling you to not murder someone be more or less important than one to hold a door for a stranger?

      I like your thought on value adding to a good deed. Maybe you are right that the individual performing the deed gets its instant reward by not expecting a reward. But what about if it inspires someone who then inspire someone else and then suddenly the original instigator gets shown kindness. Wouldn’t that be a value adding to a good deed too?

      Great we got the ball rolling. I hope you will answer my enquiries.

  2. Simon Schock says:

    Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you […] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”


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