Have you noticed how angry a lot of people are today? It seems that you rarely see a smiling face anymore. Driving on the highway is nerve-wracking these days, and sadly, road rage has become the “new normal.” Even on our little street there are incidents that are scary; people hurling epithets to others and then driving off way too fast.
Back when I was a kid, traffic was slower and fewer people drove. When you backed out of a parking spot on a busy day, you could count on the traffic stopping to allow you to get out safely. You always waved a ‘thank you’ to those behind you.
Back then we didn’t have crosswalks. Drivers watched out, especially in town, where some old lady with her dog would totter across the street. Walkers were always allowed to cross the street; that’s just the way things were then.
If you were coming down Main Street and saw someone waiting to pull out of a side street, you waited (unless there was a line of cars behind you), and waved them out. The other person would smile and wave back as a ‘thank you’. I rarely see that anymore!
These days you need to keep your head on a constant swivel because there will be people who are not paying attention, who may be yapping on their phones or texting, or who may have so much on their minds that they are too distracted. You have to watch out for them because they are not watching for you.
Added to this is the fact that many of the newer vehicles have been “dumbed down” so that they can park themselves, parallel-park, and so on. While admittedly this is helpful, in many cases people aren’t paying attention because their car is doing the thinking for them. Kind of a slippery slope, doncha think?
My dad used to say that there were so many people on the planet now that we are starting to feel the stress of it all. He felt that we all need to find a way to get along with each other as there are so many more of us than there used to be.
I agree. I think the way to start is to change our attitude. There is too much in this world of “me first and to hell with you!” thinking. Here are a few things I’ve been doing to help my own situation:
- If I get angry at someone’s selfish and reckless behavior while driving (and I often do), I flip them off—well out of sight. They don’t see it and I feel better.
- If someone is trying to pass me on the highway, I let them do it. I’d much rather be behind them than in front of them if they’re going to be that aggressive.
- If I see someone behind me in the “Cash Only” lane at the toll plaza, *I pay the toll for the person behind me. Why not?
- I smile at people as much as I can. They probably think I’m a lunatic, but it makes me feel better.
- When a sales person greets me at the register with a “how are you today?” I say that I’m fine and how are they?
…and so on. And just so you know I am so far from being a saint bringing peace, love and joy to the planet, I still hate it when waitresses call me “honey,” “dearie,” “darling,” or “sweetheart.” The best I can do in that situation is to just grin and bear it.
Hey, I never said I was perfect!
*I’d say that maybe once in twenty times I get a thank-you wave from the driver behind me, but that’s not the point. The point is to do something nice for someone just for the heck of it.