I’m not one to run to social media or pen an angry blog post every time someone looks at me sideways, but the thing is, I’ve seen so much of this lately, that I thought it was worth mentioning. I’ll bet as you read my words you’ll probably be able to relate, and I reckon the biggest question you will need to ask yourself is, which car are you driving?
Last week I was sitting at a red light. As the light turned green I placed my foot on the accelerator and moved forward. Obvious, right? I’m not trying to give driving lessons, but rather explaining in detail my actions. When the light turned green, I went. I didn’t delay. I wasn’t distracted or on my phone. I went forward. The problem for the driver behind me was I obviously didn’t move forward fast enough.
I’ll add another observation at this point. I recall as I moved forward the van next to me also moved forward. At the same rate of speed. Like, neck and neck. I mention this so you’ll understand that I accelerated forward at an average, anticipated speed. I wasn’t going overly slow or even “driving like a granny.” Yet, he honked.
Ahhh, the ever-present horn. Do you know how often people honk their horns in Florida? Like, it’s ridiculous. We’re in the land of sunshine. The place where everyone else comes to vacation. People leave their hectic, fast-paced lives to come to the beach and relax. Yet here we are. Driving 120mph down the interstate, blaring our horn when someone goes under 80, and flipping them off if they don’t gun-it at the red light.
That’s right. The guy flipped me off. After honking at me, for going on green, he passes me and pulls up alongside me to cuss me out through his open window. You know, in case I thought the loud, horn blare was an accident. Then he extended his middle finger my way with an angry glare, before speeding ahead in a dust cloud of angst.
Wanna hear the absolute best part? In approximately half a mile he turns right into a neighborhood. Yep, you heard it right, folks. All that rage, all that effort to show me he was pissed off, and all that frantic hurrying to turn into a neighborhood just ahead. Look, I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was going home to a sick kid. Perhaps he was having a really bad day. Perhaps.
The problem is, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been cussed out before. I’ve been flipped off, thrown a hateful stare. I wish I had a dollar for every horn that’s been honked my way. But I really, really don’t think I’m an overly cautious, extremely slow driver. I’ll tell you a secret… I even go over the speed limit. Quite frequently. All that to say, my receiving of road rage has less to do with my driving behavior than it does with human behavior. We currently live in a country with their hand on the horn, at the ready, to blare angrily at anyone in their path. This doesn’t just apply to driving.
Let’s admit a few things about our society. One, people are in a hurry. All the time, and way too much. They’re rushed, harried, and typically hurried over-proportionally to the need. Gonna be late for work? Try leaving earlier. Since when did we value clocking in on time over being a decent human being?
Secondly, people are angry, man. They are stressed out and short-fused. And nine times out of ten, we’re mad about stuff that doesn’t even matter! Like, what makes a person so angry that someone is not driving fast enough that they feel it necessary to curse and throw demeaning gestures? Why?
What about this? We’re selfish. Seriously, we are. Something happens in our brains lately that says, “my time is more important. This inconveniences me. I need to be first.”
Someone pulls out in front of you. Oops. It was a mistake. But rage overtakes you. “How dare you slow me down! This is so much of a bump in my very important day that I’m going to show you my anger and let you know what a moron I think you are!”
Grace? Never heard of it.
Patience? What’s that?
Kindness? Is that a new, loaded-tea flavor?!
No, sir. We won’t count to ten, much less three. We will lash out, burn with rage, and speed ahead to life’s next red light. All in the name of gaining five seconds in this race of existence. We’ll step on anyone who dares to get in our way, and you better like it!
My seventy-one year old aunt lives here too, and I’ve noticed she goes to her favorite, familiar stores and restaurants, but that’s it. She doesn’t venture out to areas she doesn’t know. Why? She doesn’t feel like getting honked at and cussed out for slowly down to find her turn. Heck, I got honked at one day in a busy section of downtown for slowing down to turn right in a pothole-laden parking lot. I drive a low-riding sedan and didn’t want to harm my vehicle. Yet that didn’t occur to the angry driver behind me. Their concern wasn’t another person’s vehicle; their concern was their time. Even as they got stopped at probably a dozen red lights before reaching their destination.
After my encounter with the man in the pickup last week who flipped me off, I told my husband, “that guy is gonna have a heart attack!”
His face was red, he was so angry, and for what? In this life we stress out over so many things that don’t matter, and we neglect so many things that do. We get mad at a delayed schedule, but we ignore someone in need. We get red, hot raging over our food taking too long at the drive-thru, but we forget to show kindness to the girl at the window who has done nothing wrong. We fret over our own personal inconvenience, and we neglect the act of love. Sure, we love our kids and maybe even our spouse, but what about the stranger who might just need it the most? I know it sounds like sugary sentiment, but it’s true. The very person you’re honking at could be one step away from giving up on life, and your kindness and grace may be the thing that tips them back in the right direction.
Earlier I mentioned my road-rage scenario might sound familiar to you, the reader, and I encouraged you to ask yourself a question. So, which car are you in? Are you the one throwing rage instead of patience? Or will you be the person on this road of life who shows some love and kindness instead? Maybe it’s not to late to change our course.