Impatient drivers

Hunter Camp is the Associate Paster at Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Augustine. Contributed image

Hunter Camp is the Associate Paster at Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Augustine. Contributed image


Naturalist W. H. Auden wrote, “Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.”

Last week, on three different occasions, I saw evidence of this “cardinal sin.” Last week I was driven out of Paradise by unruly drivers. The first time I was on King Street taking a left onto U.S. 1. It was about 4p.m. and I noticed a white van tailgating me. I was in the right lane, which used to be the lane for sane drivers. After about one block, the driver in the tailgating van began making obscene gestures to go faster—then he started honking, finally swerving around me shaking his fist.

Two days later, on Friday, which is my day off, I was at the intersection of Pope Road and Beach A1A. I was waiting for the light to change so I could walk my bicycle across the road to the beach. It was around 9a.m. The light changed and the crosswalk sign told me to cross the road. No sooner had I crossed into the oncoming lane than a small blue truck with two guys took off behind me, heading south, almost clipping my back tire. One guy yelled at me: “Get on the damn bike and ride—get out of the way!”

The third episode occurred the following Sunday evening as my wife and I were strolling across this same intersection, having just left the beach. This time a car load of young girls in a red BMW failed to properly yield for us as we made our way across A1A. They nearly ran us over.

Impatience is often defined as irritation with anything that causes delay. We have a goal to achieve and whatever stands in the way of our goal is a threat to our ability to achieve our desires, which we equate with our own well-being. Psychologists suggests that impatience may derive from and a sense of insecurity that can stem from negative childhood experiences, which result in misconceptions about the nature of self, life, or other people.

A friends of mine put the matter succinctly, “Impatience is a symptom of a breakdown in community and a me-first mentality.” My friend’s analysis resonates with my recent experiences with impatient drivers.

What is the cure for this cardinal sin that drove us out of Paradise? What can restore us to the Golden Rule being practiced on the roadways of our town? When we first feel impatience rising within us, we must recognize that impatience is present. And then comes the hard part: letting go of our expectation or goal. An extra 10 or 20 seconds added to our drive is not going to make or break our lives. But impatient driving may just break our necks.


Hunter Camp is the associate pastor at Memorial Presbyterian Church (USA) in St. Augustine, FL. Email him at



Comments are closed.