Drive peacefully – the rage you save may be mine

It seems that a good part of the day is spent in the car. It’s
part of our life in America. There’s hardly a day where I don’t
drive my car and I’m sure for others it’s the same.
It seems that a good part of the day is spent in the car. It’s part of our life in America. There’s hardly a day where I don’t drive my car and I’m sure for others it’s the same. To get to the store two miles away I jump in the car, put on some good music, have time to listen to the first part of a song, then I’m there. The song usually ends when I get back to the house.

But I, like many in Hollister, commute – but a “reverse” commute to Hollister. I sympathize with those who take that grinding commute to San Jose, who jump in their cars every day and inch through U.S. 101 for hours to get to a job, then do it all over again to get back home.

Although I have a reverse commute, it does wear me out – especially now that when I go home it’s dark and sometimes raining and I must maneuver through the mist and Mack trucks and gale-force winds.

There is an entire language of the road when driving. The space between cars, lights, horns all are used to convey three simple things: Go faster, Move out of my way, or Look out, you idiot. I use them all frequently, especially tailgating. I get upset if the tailgated car doesn’t respond or acknowledge my impatience and I have to go all the way around and make a point to glare, then cut into the lane quicker than normal. The anger even lasts for a while as I look into my rear view mirror and fume about how people are so inconsiderate. Everyone else, that is – not me.

It’s strange, but throughout the day I usually don’t get upset about much. But when I’m driving all it takes is some stupid move by another driver or some rude driving gesture – such as passing me to cut in front of me then slowing down, or driving slow in the fast lane – and I get angry.

What is this crazy phenomena of road rage and why does it rule my life when I drive? Luckily I don’t take it too far and go around flipping people off or want to fight somebody because of what they did on the road.

Last week while going to the Chamber of Commerce Christmas mixer, a large truck whose headlights I could feel on the back of my head was tailgating me, meaning of course to say, “Look buddy, you’re going too slow,” or “I’m in a hurry, drive quicker or get out of my way, bozo.” But there was no passing lane and I didn’t want to speed up.

Then, of course, when I made a right turn and glared at the guy to say, “Hey, I don’t appreciate you tailgating me no matter how much of a hurry you’re in,” I was met with the finger – which means pretty much the worst that anyone could say or feel. If I was so inclined and juvenile I could have returned the communication then, who knows? A fight over a gesture? Man killed from road rage? Dog thrown from man’s car into traffic because of road rage? Luckily I’m not as juvenile as that and feel no urgency to fight anybody over driving.

Just think, this guy felt intense middle-finger anger because I was driving too slow and glared at him. Something is entirely wrong here. This is a car and we use it to get places. Sometimes we can’t get there as fast as we’d like to, but that’s no reason to want to fight or kill anybody.

Now, this communication is usually not heard while walking. Imagine walking down the street and somebody’s walking right behind you, breathing into your neck. As he passes me I glare at him. He then flips me off. Then, say, I return the favor and he steps aside and pounds me. Or, if the person in front of me isn’t walking fast enough, I attempt to pass them. They speed up, I walk quicker and then cut in front of them and slow down.

Could you imagine “walking rage”? Or “bicycle rage”? How about, for moms, “stroller rage”?

The problem is complex and I don’t want to answer it, but to request that maybe we could learn the art of cruising. Turn on the music and let the good times roll, as they say. Flip peace signs instead of middle fingers and listen to the Grateful Dead instead of Megadeth.

But maybe that’s the ’60s all over again, and then we’d have Volkswagen buses going way too slow on the road.

Peace, brother.

Leave your comments