Changing Lanes

Alan Spector

Alan Spector

OK, so maybe this article isn’t much about retirement—but maybe it is.  You be the judge.

It is a frequent occurrence for anyone who drives to have someone change lanes and pull in front of you.  My wife and I recently completed a 3,000-mile trip to and around Florida, giving me plenty of opportunity to observe and reflect on these lane changers.

My overall conclusion may seem to have nothing to do with driving and lane-changing, but it does.  My conclusion—it is important for my 15-year old grandson to determine what kind of person he wants to be for the rest of his life.

What’s the connection between lane changes and Jordan’s coming-of-age?  Simple, first, he’s about to start driving.  Second, I’ve surmised that how people change lanes likely says a lot about the kind of people they are.  And each of us has to make a choice about how we drive and who we are.

These are the categories of lane-changers I observed and what I inferred about who they are.  I really don’t know the drivers I saw along our route, but see if you agree with my observations.

Lane-Changer #1—the Bully:  I’m bigger than you and I’m coming into your lane, even though there might not be much room, and it’s a last-moment move.  I might signal and I might not, but because I’m a truck, I’m bigger, and you need to yield.

Lane Changer #2—the Jerk:  I’m not signaling—I’m just cutting in front of you.  I really don’t even care that you’re there and there’s not a lot of room, but there’s a part of the road I need to be in and I’m making it mine.  Who cares what you think?  I’m putting both of us at risk, but this is more about me taking what I think is rightfully mine without taking you into account.

Lane Changer #3—the Unaware:  I’m not really changing lanes.  I’m actually weaving because I’m also texting while I drive.  I don’t even know you’re there.  If I did know, I’d probably act differently, but I’m distracted, so for now…oh, wait, I just got another text.

Lane Changer #4—the Narcissist:  I’m signaling but only to tell you I’m coming over.  I’m not asking permission—you should be happy I’m doing you a favor by signaling, so what’s your problem?  Notice me being nice by signaling; you should be thanking me.  Here I come.

Lane Changer #5—the Mensch:  I’m signaling to let you know that I’d like to change lanes in front of you and to see if you are OK with it.  If you are, please blink your lights—I won’t come over until I see them.  We’ll work together toward the common objective of each of us getting to where we are going safely and in good time.  If you’re not OK with it, I’ll wait until you pass me, and then I’ll change lanes behind you.  I’d rather be safe and care about others than act self-centered.  We’re all in this together, you know.

When Jordan starts driving, which lane-changer do you think I want him to be?  More importantly, as he continues to become who he will be for the rest of his life, what kind of person do you think I want him to be?  The good news—no, the great news—is that he’s already a mensch and well on track to be even more so.


Alan Spector is the coauthor, along with Keith Lawrence, of the book, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement.  Alan and Keith conduct workshops around the country, helping Baby Boomers plan for the nonfinancial aspects of retirement.  Since retiring from a successful 33-year executive career with the Procter & Gamble Company, Alan has been a founding partner of three businesses, the author of five books, and deeply involved with social service organizations, community initiatives to reduce violence, and education programming.  He is a management consultant, baseball player, nonprofit Board member, frequent traveler, speaker, blogger, and most importantly, the active and proud grandfather of four.  Alan lives in St. Louis with his wife, Ann. 

Alan’s fifth book, Body Not Recovered, has been named as a “Hot New Release” on Amazon.  Learn more about Your Retirement Quest at, and learn more about Alan and his books at


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