Road Rage

April 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm (Uncategorized)

People get in cars, and they get angry. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I think for most of us, it is an inescapable truth.

I’ve been driving a lot more lately with a job that requires a commute (only 15 minutes, but more than what I had been doing) and due to the fact that I sing twice a week in Portland. Throw in a trip in Portland again on a weekend (much of the time), and I’m driving a lot more than I had been living in Moscow. I don’t have a problem with it, but I am noticing that I get upset in the car more than I do generally in my life.

I am a fairly calm person most of the time, but in a vehicle I seem to get worked up a lot. Everyone around me is either going too fast or too slow, or is doing something stupid while driving (it feels like). It dawned on me that I don’t really like driving. I like trips–I could drive 6 or 8 hours in a day and not be perturbed by anything that happens–but commuting and to a lesser extent traveling around the greater Portland Metropolitan area forces me to spend blocks of time driving that I will never get back for other things. On one level it doesn’t bother me–it’s just the reality of living in a place where things are spread out. On another level it DOES bother me, though, and that’s what is so interesting.

It isn’t a conscious decision. I don’t think to myself “I hate driving” or “I’m wasting my life,” but I think that on some level inside of me it isn’t enjoyable. Earlier this week I left my house to run a couple errands and then went to the AT&T store to get a new phone since mine was on its last legs (tangent: say what you want about the Iphone but mine lasted for nearly 3 years before it stopped working well). So I’m driving along and this very VERY old woman is driving in front of me, doing about 15 in a 25 and then 20 in a 35. I feel myself getting angry–why do they let people that old drive? Doesn’t she know there are 6 or 7 cars behind her? Why me???

I then took a deep breath and thought to myself “Jordan, you’re heading to get a brand new Iphone, and you can’t wait 10 extra minutes driving behind this old lady? How entitled is that? What if she’s driving to her grandchild’s birthday party, and she doesn’t usually drive because she’s terrible at it, but she couldn’t get a ride? But by God, she told little Timmy or Susie that she would be there and this is the highlight of her month. Imagine if she slammed on the brakes and caused a fender bender (yes we’re going way to slow for that but think about it) and she explained to you her whole situation. Would you care that she was driving slowly and you had to take a little more time? No, you would feel empathy for her and tell her that it’s ok. So, if you are willing to be forgiving under those circumstances, why can’t you just be forgiving now?”

All of those thoughts went through my head, and I felt better about things. It’s very easy to not think about that, though. Later, as I was stuck in Blazer game traffic as I headed to choir, I was stuck behind a blood bus and all I could think about was the time I attempted to give blood my senior year of high school and they wouldn’t let me. To add a little more insult they gave me a “I tried” sticker which although admittedly hilarious might make some people sad/self conscious. I suppose they wouldn’t have to wear it.

Anyway, road rage. I think that it’s easy to get upset while driving, but that anger generally comes from a lack of perspective (as does most anger). Sometimes it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that 5 minutes will not be the end of the world. Much of the world moves far too fast, I think. I’m not talking about being late on purpose or being lazy, but much of the time we artificially cause ourselves stress by imposing deadlines where they aren’t needed. More stress makes people less productive, and vise versa. I have enough things to stress me out without adding cars to the list.

So remember next time you’re driving–it will all be ok.

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