Pulling my Camry into the parking space at a Fedex store the other day, I was cut off by a screeching, swerving Pathfinder that missed me by a few inches and snatched the parking space that was rightfully mine. I slammed on my brakes and pitched forward, along with the entire contents of my front seat—cell phone, water, umbrella, Fedex envelope, flowers for my wife. The violent motion also lurched my elbow onto the horn, causing it to blare loud and long: BEEEEEEEEEP!!!!! The Camry being not new but rather old and slow, the horn continued communicating its outrage for several long seconds after I removed my elbow.

A Beeper (ArtOfPhotos /

I am normally a mild-mannered man. If it were up to me, car horns (which I never use) would never go “Beep” but would go, “I beg your pardon. There appears to be a discrepancy in opinion here about which I would appreciate your input” or some such. I am not, by nature, a beeping person. So imagine my chagrin at what the Pathfinder driver must have thought of me after 15 seconds of loud lecturing from my horn.

So there it was. A lifetime judgment created in seconds. Him of me. Me of him.

I reached over to the floor of the passenger seat to salvage my wife’s flowers, but in doing so my elbow again hit the horn. Loud and long it howled at the cold, unforgiving world in general and at the driver of the Pathfinder in particular. As I surfaced to dashboard level, horn still blaring. I spied the Pathfinder driver making his way across my line of vision, a large lumbering fellow in a leather jacket emblazoned with the word MONSOON. Through my windshield our eyes met: hatred and resentment in his, befuddlement in mine. He glowered at me a moment, then stomped into the liquor store adjacent to the Fedex place.

This man only knows me by my beeps, I reflected. He doesn’t really know ME. And I only know him by the fact that he’s OBVIOUSLY a reckless, ill-mannered, moronic putz whose miserable life was spared only by my alertness and lightning reflexes.

So there it was. A lifetime judgment created in seconds. Him of me. Me of him.

I knew nothing, really, of him. Maybe that “Monsoon” jacket wasn’t his. Maybe he borrowed it from a biker friend whose child he had nursed through scarlet fever. Maybe “Monsoon” was his pet hamster who died when he was 10. Maybe he went to the liquor store to invite the proprietor to attend the next meeting of his Gandhi Appreciation Club. And Lord knows what my double-BEEEEP conveyed to him about me.

Prejudice” is actually a hyphenate: “Pre-Judge.” Or to put a further spin on it, “premature judging.” It’s not a new thought, but how in the world can I make a judgment on who you are or whether I approve of you (or people like you) if I don’t know you?

Possibly, under other circumstances, Monsoon Jacket and I may have run into each other at the library or a Starbucks or a supermarket or a chess match. Possibly we would have had a scintillating exchange of ideas on culture or health or religion. Possibly, we both would have grown personally and spiritually from such a meeting. Instead: BEEEEEEEEP!!!!

We all have our Beeps. And taking it from a larger, worldwide view, that’s 7 billion-plus Beeps per day, at one beep per person, 365 days per year, for a total of at least 2.55 trillion Beeps a year (adding an additional 7 billion beeps for each leap year).

We must rise above the beeps and talk TO each other, instead of ABOUT or AT each other. 2.55 trillion Beeps is WAY too noisy to get anything done.

Martin Landon
Martin Landon is happy to say that at present he is not doing anything he doesn’t love. Using Scientology, he helps people daily, both one-on-one through life coaching, and globally, through his webinars. He has also authored books, movies, plays, TV shows, and comic strips and currently writes for STAND, which gives him great joy.