My oldest daughter is currently a senior in high school. So, when I saw an article in the Washington Post with the title, “When applying to college, this character trait may mean more than good grades,” I took note.

The article states that colleges want students who care and show concern for others.


According to Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, colleges “want students who have achieved in and out of the classroom, but [they] are also looking for things harder to quantify, [like] authentic intellectual engagement and concern for others and the common good,” the Post reports.

In this harried, overburdened, self-absorbed culture we have cultivated, our value system is out of whack, inconsiderate behavior is running rampant, and kindness seems to be in dangerously short supply.

This summer, my husband and I took our three daughters and two of their friends to see Imagine Dragons in concert. The concert was in July, during one of summer’s record heat waves, where the mercury was reaching toward triple digits and the humidity was plentiful. We arrived early enough to enjoy a short tailgating session, though the oppressive heat had clearly put a damper on the usually festive pre-concert atmosphere.

Those of us who opted to endure the elements and nosh on snacks and sip pre-concert beverages were operating in grin-and-bear-it mode. Many others gave up the charade and headed into the concert venue early.

One young couple, however — seemingly oblivious to everyone else around them — chose to enjoy their pre-show refreshments from the comfort of their climate controlled vehicle. For more than 30 minutes, the couple’s SUV idled in the parking lot, emitting noxious fumes from the rear and generating unwelcome additional heat from the front, not to mention the engine noise that created an obnoxious din amid the musical notes that clung to the thick air.

As we were all destined to spend the next several hours sitting in pools of our own sweat at the outdoor venue, I didn’t really understand the rationale of tailgating inside a running vehicle. The couple really accomplished nothing more than delaying the inevitable and creating an environment that was unpleasant for everyone around them,

During the concert (which was amazing) the lead singer gave several impassioned speeches about kindness and acceptance, which elicited roars of approval from the crowd. Alas, the kumbaya moment of tolerance and camaraderie lasted no longer than the set list as thousands of irritable, sweat-soaked people descended on the parking lot to embark on the mass exodus from the venue.

As you can imagine, it was pure chaos. With my car being blocked from all sides except the rear, my only option was to back into the lane behind me. Once in the lane, I inched forward into an open space so as not to block the other vehicles parked beside me.

But doing so, however, positioned my vehicle half a car length ahead of the SUV who had already pulled into the lane. Apparently this maneuver did not sit well with the SUV couple. To express his disgust, the driver proceeded to blare his horn for a full two minutes, while his passenger flung her arms into the air, gesticulating wildly.

When this horn-honking tantrum elicited no response, the driver then saw fit to get out of his SUV, stalk the six steps forward to my vehicle, and begin banging on the passenger side window.

With a car full of teenagers looking on, I knew this would be a teachable moment on how to handle irate, irrational individuals such as Mr. SUV.

I rolled the window half way down and patiently listened as the guy ranted and raved about me pulling in front of him, indignantly asking if I “just planned to go ahead of him?”

Considering the absolute gridlock in the parking lot, the man’s behavior was humorously ludicrous. I calmly explained that I had pulled forward only to prevent my car from blocking the others beside me.

And then, shamefully not being able to resist a little dig of my own, replied that if exiting the parking lot a few extra seconds ahead of me would make such a huge difference in his life, that I would gladly let him pass once the cars began moving.


In the end, it took more than 90 minutes to free ourselves from the parking lot. The tangled mass of cars eventually unknotted itself in various directions, a migration that ultimately allowed me to detour through an opening opposite Mr. SUV, releasing me from the parking lot well ahead of him, most likely to his infuriated chagrin.

On the long ride home, I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony of Mr. SUV having the gall to accuse someone else of committing the same transgressions that he himself had so blatantly demonstrated just hours before, and on the heels of the band’s plea for people to demonstrate more kindness, tolerance and acceptance toward one another.

Clearly the message was lost on this man.

As noted in an anonymous quote recently making the rounds on social media, “Actions prove who someone is; words just prove who they want to be.”