Yesterday as Traci and I ran onto the White Bridge near Ouabache State Park we saw a funeral procession coming.
Oblivious as usual, I didn’t think anything about it. But Traci insisted we stop running and stand by the side of the road til the last car passed by.
At first I felt sort of goofy just standing there. Should we salute or something? I looked over at Traci, who was in kind of a “parade rest” stance. It wasn’t a very long procession, so I decided not to worry about the proper body language and just make sure I figured out how to handle this situation the next time it comes up.
Afterward, Traci said it really bugs her when people don’t stop for funeral processions.
“I remember one time, I can’t remember whose funeral it was, but as we drove by in the funeral procession a farmer stopped his tractor in the field and just waited there, out of respect,” she said. “That really meant a lot. Ever since then, I’ve always felt like you should always stop whatever you’re doing while a funeral procession goes by.”
I’ve got to admit, when I pass a funeral procession in Fort Wayne, it usually just feels like a hassle. But small-town funeral processions are different. For one thing, there’s a good chance you know the person in the hearse — or at the very least, you’re pretty darn likely to know someone in the procession. I don’t remember the farmer incident Traci described, but I DO remember getting a catch in my throat more than once at various demonstrations of roadside respect that went far beyond routine good-driver behavior.
Playing that small favor forward didn’t take long to do, and it makes you feel good — or at least I trust it will make me feel good the next time this comes up, when I do it on purpose and don’t feel like I’m making it up as I go along.