Monday, May 24, 2010

Aggression, Anger, Avenge

Yikes!  106 Days Left

In the last two weeks I've had two car incidents.  Or rather two incidents in the car.  It has heightened my awareness of driving aggression both inside and outside my car!

The first incident I started.  On a highway, I pulled around a slow truck.  Soon after I pulled out this car comes barrelling up behind me, tailgating like I cut him off when I pulled out.  I passed the truck and pulled back into the right lane.  As the goof  passed me, I flipped him the bird.  Not proud of it, but I justified it by telling myself he had no right to harass me.  Well, that really ticked him off (note - I am saying "him" but in truth, the windows were tinted and I couldn't see).  He whipped in front of me and slowed down a bit.  Well, I realized what was happening and didn't try and pass him.  I figured I only had another 2-3 miles before I got onto another highway then 1 mile until I got off.  He was going to stay on the current road, but when I pulled over to get on another highway, he got in front of me and did the same.  On the exit ramp  he starts whipping the car right and left like a NASCAR driver before the green flag.  So I come up to my exit and figure I'll finally be rid of him.  Wrong.  He sees that I am pulling off, he does the same.  I decide to take the next exit and get back on the highway, he does the same.  Remember he is in front of me.  I waited until the last second - and he was past the exit - I bolted off.  Heart pounding - I was finally rid of him. 

Made me think about how I actually started it by thinking I was funny.  Ended up I wasn't!  I decided  I need to be a nicer person especially in the car.  So I figured a test would be coming soon.

The next day I was running errands and decided to stop at a fast food place drive through.  There is one way to access the drive-through line and a cut-in-line way to access it (marked with a Do Not Enter sign).  So this guy cuts in front of me.  I tapped my horn.  He waved thanks.  Amazing...... I get up to the speaker.  Them "Can I help you with anything?" Me "Yeah, you can stops jerks like the one in front of me from cutting in line." Then I ordered.  As I pull around I hear the waving man say to the cashier, "This lady behind me nearly had a heart attack.  Screaming and yelling!  I don't know what was the matter with her."  I pull up to pay and say "I really wasn't screaming or yelling.  But I did tap my horn when he cut in line."  Cashier says, "I know.  We would have heard you.  He does this all the time."  So I think it is over, pick up my food and park in a nearby lot to eat and listen to the radio.   Out of the corner of my eye I see his car coming toward me, he pulls beside me about two slots away.  I poke around in my bag, unwrap my sandwich and put the straw in my drink.  I'm thinking of the Dog Whisperer advice - No look, no touch, no eye contact.  He pulls behind me, pulls around the other side, and pulls in front of me.  All the while I pretend not to notice.  Finally he leaves and I am a bit shaken. 

Every time I resolve to do or not do something, I get tested.  I don't think being nicer means getting walked on, do you?  If I were inside a building, in line and someone cut in, I would tell them the line forms in the back.  But conversely, if I was walking and inadvertently cut someone off, I would apologize - not flip the bird.  In both incidents I made one other mistake.  I did not get the license plate of the car.  My phone has a voice memo and it would have been easy to record the plate. 

Steven saved me from myself when he introduced me to audio books many years ago.  Those books allowed me to disengage my aggression and anger while driving.  My journeys are usually very short now and I seldom read this way.  Obviously, I still need to disengage aggression and anger.  Maybe by the time I turn 60.......  there's always hope.

1 comment:

Dave Johnson said...

I had the same thing happen to me one time...except I was the guy who cut someone off in a parking lot. Then when I got out of my car and started walking into the store he came driving around almost like he was gonna hit me. And he stopped and started screaming at me. Of course, you know me- I'm not one to stigmatize people with mental illness. But it was obvious seeing this person and the disorganized interior of his car that his mind was also equally disorganized. And it really struck me- there are many people who have very short fuses (mental illness or not) and something little like that can trigger it.

I've also started making changes in the way I walk. Around here (west coast) everyone walks slowly and says excuse me to each other. East Coast you just plow thru people if they are in your way. Well I've started realizing that my style is just not fitting instead of speeding up when I walk to cut around someone, I just saunter all slow-like behind them. Not easy for me to do...but prob better. Especially since I'll be living the island life in 3 months...turtle speed.

I really liked your post Linda- read like a suspenseful short story.