One of The Oatmeal’s comics looks at the attitudes of drivers and pedestrians to near collisions with fellow drivers and pedestrians. It reflects my own take on the concept, which is that drivers are more prone to road rage because they’re isolated from one another by their cars, where pedestrian near-collisions are up close and personal. As a pedestrian, you’re face-to-face with an actual person. Of course, in a world of six billion people there will always be thoughtless prats, or people just having a bad day.

What would drivers do if they knew that the other driver had a gun and a mental illness? Or if the other driver was the person who would be interviewing them that morning for their dream job? As someone said, it’s the measure of a person how they treat another person who can’t help or hurt them in any way.

The following story well illustrates the point.

In Detroit in the 1930s, three young males boarded a bus. They saw a black man wearing a worn, rumpled tracksuit, and they sat near him. They began to insult him but he didn’t respond. Their words became more vitriolic and hateful. Still the man didn’t respond. The bus stopped and the man stood up. The boys saw that he was much taller than they’d thought, and that his rumpled tracksuit now clung to his muscular physique. The man took a card out of his wallet, gave it to one of the boys, got off the bus, and went on his way.

The boys looked at the card. The four words on it chilled their blood. Those four words were:

Jo Louis.
Professional boxer.