I have a long commute to my part-time job–it’s 72.5 miles one way, and takes me through three major highways. Even though it’s a long haul, I love my job and the people with whom I work, plus there’s the added bonus of great scenery along the way. My only issue is the ever-increasing rudeness on the road.
Oh, I know that this is nothing new; we have all experienced it at one time or another. My own pet peeves are drivers who don’t use their directional signals, drivers who toss trash and/or cigarette butts out the window, and the distracted drivers who yap endlessly on their cell phones or worse; text while driving–therefore not paying attention to their driving. And how about the ones who get right on your bumper in heavy traffic when it’s quite clear that you can neither get over to the slow lane nor speed up–what are they thinking? And if they do manage to pass, how far can they possibly go? You wonder why that person is in such a dumb and dangerous state of mind. Maybe the cat peed in his/her oatmeal that morning?
Then there are the lifetime members of the CID (Committee of Idiotic Drivers). Just this week, I was traveling in the right lane of a two-lane highway. I was nearly up to an exit when the car to my left zoomed in front of me and to take that exit, causing me to stand on my brakes. I laid on my horn, and he immediately shot me the bird–as if I was the idiot in this scenario. This was a day or two ago, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how he could possibly have thought that he was in the right???
It’s this kind of thoughtless, disrespectful, rude and downright dangerous behavior that concerns me–and, to be honest, really pisses me off. My feeling is that, if you want to be an ass on the road, that’s up to you. But do NOT make me part of it and endanger MY life. The rampant road I see each day is both astounding and horrifying.
Let me make my usual proviso right now: I am not a perfect driver. I do not always make good decisions on the road, and I have at times been guilty of drinking a hot coffee while driving, which somehow makes me drive slower…go figure. But I do try to give and take on the road, realizing that we ALL want to get to where we’re going.
But just where is all that anger and rudeness coming from? Has driving become as anonymous as writing snarky replies on message boards; i.e.; you can be just as nasty as you want because no one knows that “HotMama51” is really you? I blame a lot of this behavior on the fact that so few of us work where we live anymore, so we have to drive long distances. In a small town, you pretty much know everyone, so flipping someone off isn’t a good idea. They know who you are, and you know them. But it seems that it’s ok to be rude to perfect strangers. Is it really worth that temporary satisfaction of being an absolute jerk because someone didn’t drive the way you thought they should? My dad, who is nearly 90, once said something I remember, especially while driving: “We have to find a way to get along; it’s too small a world not to.”
The first and very human reaction when someone does something dangerous on the road is pure anger–‘the nerve of some jackass to put MY life in danger!’ It turns that first fear reaction to anger, and we fume inwardly about it all day. Well, we can’t live like that. As much as I wanted to chase down that one-finger-salute guy and beat the crap out of him, I can’t do that. And I can’t carry around that outrage and anger around with me. Why should I let a stranger poison my day?
The truth is, things like this are rarely personal. Usually, it’s all about them and not us. What if the man who cut me off just lost his wife or child or parent? I’m not saying that this is a reason to act be a jerk on the road, but it does put a different spin on things. Of course we get scared and angry; that’s human nature. But what we can do to bleed off that outrage is to remember that it truly is not personal. There some easy and effective ways to get rid of that anger. The following are things I’ve tried that really work, and maybe they will for you, too.
- Breathe! Ten long slow breaths in, and then ten long breaths out.
- Swear–get it out of your system, and when you’re done, you’re done.
- Repeat as often as necessary: “Not about me, not about me.”
- Tell yourself, “That’s enough–I’m not wasting another minute on that idiot.”
- Say what you’d like to say to that person; keep it short and to the point, and say it three times. You may not believe it, but the Universe has a way of sending that message on to the right person.
….And if none of those fit for you, then try singing that great song from “Frozen”–“Let It Go!”