Every good superhero has a compelling origin story. No good guy worth his or her salt lacks a detailed and gripping road they traveled down that can explain why they are the way they are. Sometimes the origin story makes the hero the sympathetic or noble or frightening or admirable character he or she is. Same goes for villains.
I have my own origin story that can explain the “super power” I’ve come to harness with great responsibility today. And it is this power that I am hoping to banish (or at least use much less of) come the New Year. Twenty-seven years ago I was involved in the only car accident I’ve ever been in, and it wasn’t my fault. It was my first taste of someone else’s stupidity, and while I emerged from the accident alive (I won’t say unharmed), I soon realized I had become empowered with a scorching new ability: Road Rage.
I’m not talking about the road rage where I carry a weapon, jump out of my car at red lights, and bludgeon people for their traffic faux pas (although I do know that I am in danger of having that happen to me if I continue on the way I am). The road rage I harbor comes in the form of scathing obscenities, mean looks, and fingers wagging furiously in the direction of whoever provokes my ire. I see some idiot jerk ***hole fellow driver in front of me who turns on their blinker half a second before deciding to make a sharp right turn and the power unleashes itself, bursting forth from my throat like a harpy’s cry. A Cadillac going 25 in a 45 weaving across the lane with no clue where it’s going drives me freakin’ insane.
Sure the cathartic release I have in the moment is relieving, but I’m getting to the point in my life where I’m thinking further than those initial five seconds. What is this road rage really accomplishing? Is anyone becoming a better driver because of it? Certainly not me. And really, isn’t it actually only raising my overall stress level? More importantly, given my own questionable traffic behavior, do I even have a right to complain about what other people do?
I’m not what you might call the best driver. I know this all too well about myself. So the road rage is sort of hypocritical on my part. Still, I can’t control the evil thoughts that spring up when someone else on the road does something that makes absolutely zero sense.
I do feel a bit of remorse when—after cursing at a car that has wronged me—I see that the driver is an itty-bitty elderly person or a teen with a fresh face and an equally fresh driver’s license… and I’m thankful that they haven’t burst into flames (my wicked thoughts materializing into a reality).
So. I’m starting to think that maybe it would be good idea, spiritually speaking, if I tried to become a better person by reining in my road rage. At least a little. (Well, maybe a lot.) The first step of course would be to assume that maybe the person in the other car is simply having a bad day or a bad moment and made a little mental error, not to make me upset, but because their mind is temporarily preoccupied by something more important.
Case in point: Just the other day I was on my way to the movies. I approached a traffic circle where you’re supposed to yield before entering when there are other cars going round (so as to oh, I don’t know, avoid a collision). Well, a car happened to be going round so I slowed down to wait my turn. The person behind me immediately — and I mean immediately — starting honking at me and of course I started to yell and curse something about needing to yield at a traffic circle when there are other cars going round and how stupid did you have to be not to know that. Unfortunately, the person I was yielding to thought I was directing my rage at them and gave me this look of utter confusion that said “What do I do wrong?”
I felt horrible because they were only doing the right thing but got caught in my rage crossfire. To make matters worse, the idiot behind me went on their merry way not knowing or maybe just not caring that I was simply following the traffic rules… because that’s what idiots do. Had I taken a more calm mentality, or Zen approach, let’s say, I would have let the idiot’s (damn!) person’s rudeness roll off me and the innocent victim wouldn’t have been accidentally berated.
So this New Year’s I’m resolving to be more patient on the road. Is it achievable? We’ll see. I’m going in optimistic, but there are a lot of fools out there and I don’t know if I can bite my tongue for all of them. Fingers crossed. And mouth shut.
I recommend one of these.
Now see, where were you when I first made my resolution!?? Now I’m locked into this whole new spiritual path when all I really needed was your handy-dandy advice (and device)! 😀
Hahahaha— ethically, I like your path so much better.
well, it’s much easier
and in the short term at least, very much more satisfying. 😀
Yeah, I know, I know …I guess I’ll stick with my resolution and become a better person. But the death ray would’ve been awesome too. 😀
😀 Hey, that’s why they call it a virtue —
–cause it’s hard. 😀
I sympathise with you on this one. I have stopped flashing lights and shouting and progressed to that shake of the head reproach which says – you are such a wanker but I am certain that this can get me into trouble just as easily. Once I got cross with a speeder and flashed my lights at him – he slammed on his brakes and made me stop – he got out of the car and he was about 7 foot tall and really mad – We were at a red light but I didn’t care, I just released the clutch, hammered the accelerator pedal and sped off as fast as I could and didn’t stop for at least 20 miles when I was certain he wasn’t following me any more. I could have been a road rage statistic that night!
Good luck with the resolution!
Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of — in this day and age you just never know. People get shot here for less. So I figure I better straighten up my act. It’s not often the person even knows I’m yelling at them…but every so often they do and one day it’ll be the wrong person and then I’ll be a headline in the newspaper and no one wants that. Plus, for that moment in time, it just adds stress to my life that I really don’t need so I’m going to try a more Zen approach and see what happens. It’ll either calm me down or give me a heart attack from holding it in. LOL Or maybe I’ll bite my tongue off from trying to keep my mouth shut and not be able to talk anymore (problem solved!). We’ll see. 😀 But I’m going to give a good go anyway.
Youd be cussing me. I drive slow. When i was young i had a lot of wrecks that were all related to going too fast. One day i figured that out and ive been driving the speed limit and leaving big gaps between my car and the car in front of me ever sense. It enrages many other drivers. .
Now see, that wouldn’t make me mad at all! I drive the speed limit (most of the time). I’d rather have someone drive the speed limit than driving like a maniac in and out of traffic, or driving 30 miles under the speed limit in the fast lane. No matter what, I respect anyone who obeys the traffic laws, always. I don’t understand why people get mad at someone for obeying the law.
A lot of people do get mad about people obeying traffic laws. It is great to know I won’t upset you by driving safely. lol 😀
Usually those are the people driving around like maniacs, the ones flying in and out of traffic endangering everyone else. Nope. Not me. 😀
Oh, if only I could master this, too. When I see someone driving as if they’re the only car in the entire universe, it drives me bonkers. My favorite: The individual who stops (stops!) on the onramp, rather than merging into traffic. Why I take it as a personal affront, I don’t know, but it can be maddening. Sounds like this would be a good resolution for me, as well.
Oh good grief, I hate that too!! It’s like, merge, merge, MERGE!! And I sit there behind them just waiting to be rear-ended because I figure the next guy coming up to the ramp won’t know we’re all just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the person in front to get his personal invite to take his place on the highway. Yep. That drives me nuts too. 🙂
You touched on a key point that has helped me ease my own pointed, though less severe, responses to poor drivers… It’s not about me at all. As soon as I stop taking their behavior personally, I find it bothers me less to not at all. Now I find myself reacting (instead of responding) only when I’m already late getting somewhere, i.e. when the poor driving behavior once again seems somehow directed at me personally. Reminding myself that I’m the one who made me late does help in that situation. So now I try to be sure I leave myself enough time before I get on the road. Not 100% by any means, but the trips do go better.
That’s what I’m hoping….that by changing my outlook, my mindset on the road will change as well. Time will tell if it works, but I’m definitely going to try. 🙂
My road rage often gets the best of me. I try to tone it down when others are in the car with me.
I’m really good if my parents are in the car. I’ve gotten really good at censoring my language when my parents are around. There is a brief hesitation sometimes when I’m looking for a different word…which they know me well enough to know why so they realize it’s not due to me being a complete idiot. LOL
Wait until you have the pleasure of driving in France. Particularly the Cote Azur. Indicators are just fancy lights on cars, zebra crossings just fancy road decorations and forget the principle of roundabouts (traffic circles). It’s the only country I know that that has signs reminding you approaching roundabouts you don’t have right of way. Minor roads leading onto some major roads have priority and can just shoot out without looking. It got the point I had to get over road rage and just accept that’s how they drive (I still kept the expletives!). On the flip side, they are also one of the few countries that give motorcyclists respect. They’ll happily pull over slightly to allow bikers to pass.
While I would give anything for the opportunity to go to France, I’m not sure I could drive there! The anxiety would probably kill me. 😀
Where’s the “love” button? WordPress really needs a “love” button on these posts because I love this one!
Thanks for reading and commenting! And thanks for the kind words — much appreciated — glad you enjoyed it! Now we’ll see how long the resolution lasts!
if you’re anything like the rest of humanity (or as i refer to them, cattle) it’ll only last a few weeks.
I know my own limitations all too well and I don’t give myself THAT long. LOL But I’m hoping I can stick with it even if I do have a few slip ups. Maybe I should just strive for “better behaved” on the whole rather than quitting cold turkey.