Note: See December 27 entry for back story.
A third lesson learned from our Argentinean driver was this: Stay calm and don’t lose focus. He showed grace under pressure: continually on the speaker phone or talking with his wingman as he navigated the streets and alleys of Buenos Aires. He was reflecting on his options and continually recalibrating based on the on-the-ground reality. You can’t be thinking strategically if you’re freaking out. Persistence and perseverance as you strategically think through each blockage that arises is what gets you there in the long run.
Every once in a while, our driver would allow himself an expression of emotion: “This is the absolute worst traffic I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Terrible. Terrible.” Then he got back to work. The driver didn’t waste time or emotional energy expressing a lot of anger or frustration at the demonstrators. They were obstacles, annoyances who were clearly making his job harder. But the greater goal was to try to get through. There were hundreds of ways to get to the airport that wouldn’t work. Through calm perseverance he found the one way that did work.
I imagined that his stress was only made worse by having two Americans in the back seat who had to make their flight. So most of the time I was quiet and just let him work. He didn’t need any more hassle to deal with. And truly, it was God’s grace that Janet and I felt very calm the whole time.
When did arrive at the airport, our driver gave us a small gift: a magnet with Argentina on it. I gave him a generous tip, but at first he didn’t want to receive it. That may have been cultural, but I think it also encompassed the fact that it was so troublesome to get there. He didn’t want to receive the tip; he communicated more of a sense that he was just doing what he was supposed to do. But I am aware that another driver may have just sat there in traffic and we would have missed our flight.
May we also have the attitude of a servant:
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10
Happy New Year!