Know Your Out

When I took driver’s ed in high school, our teacher always told us to know where our “outs” were.

“What’s your out?” he’d ask as I was driving on a major road.

“To my left,” I’d say.

“Are you sure?” he’d prod. He wanted to make sure I had confidence in my answer.

“Yep, already checked the mirrors. No cars,” I’d tell him.

Knowing your out is vital whenever you’re among other drivers. It means you’re anticipating things and ready to react, lest you get caught up in the chaos should something go wrong.

Do you know your out when the going gets rough? Is it personal down-time, yoga, a long walk or time with people? Do you know your out when a job goes sideways? Do you have a back-up plan? And then another back-up plan for that one?

I started thinking about my outs today on the freeway. I was coming upon a stretch of road that’s infamous for backing up quickly, but even if you’ve never driven it before, one should — by virtue of having been granted a driver’s license — be looking all around: up ahead, behind, to each side, at merging traffic, exiting traffic. It’s not hard, but you wonder how many people really do it anymore.

But somebody didn’t today. Their lane backed up, and off into the dirt beyond the right shoulder they went. Why didn’t they know there wasn’t anyone in the wide-open lane next to them on the left? They likely didn’t look. They didn’t know their out.

Today I am thankful for a teacher’s words that had so much more relevance than just being applicable to life on the road. His warning was relevant to life in general, and his command of knowing my out often comes to mind.

For patient teachers, wise souls and words of wisdom that can span the decades, I am grateful.

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