I remember when I liked driving, but either because I've gotten older or because I live in a metro area, those days are long gone. Easily the best part of the past ~2 years has been driving less. Every time I do go out in the car I find myself getting so frustrated and angry with people. The two things that piss me off the most:
1) The "Cleveland Red": It's literally unsafe to start driving through an intersection around here as soon as your light turns green, because someone is probably driving through their red light. My wife's hypothesis is that if they've seen a green light, then they feel like they're entitled to go through, like that was their green light and by god they're not stopping now.
2) People pulling into the intersection when traffic is stopped, blocking the intersection. Because what happens (sometimes) is that their light turns red and someone else's light turns green, but they can't go anywhere. Even if they're not trying to turn onto the road where traffic is backed up, they can't even cross that road because some asshole was either too stupid or short-sighted or self-centered that they can't think ahead or give a shit about anyone else. (See, I get pretty heated just thinking about this stuff).
Then there was yesterday evening.
I had to pick up prescriptions for my wife after her surgery, and before I even made the left turn into the CVS lot, I could tell it was a mess. There was a taxi van just sitting right in the entrance with its flashers on, and then there was a car trying to turn in, which meant cars were going around that car into the turn lane where I was sitting. Car behind me honks like I should be doing something. Finally that car gets in and then I turn in, and the lot is packed, but then there's a guy pulling out. So I put on my turn signal... and this SUV zips around me, blocks my way, and backs into the spot that I was clearly signalling I was going into.
I flipped out. I was so angry. I was yelling and I flipped the driver the bird as I drove past to look for another spot. But I car hear the woman in the car yell "I'm sorry! You can have the spot!"
But I'd already driven past and the lot was so cramped that I couldn't turn around, and more to the point I was furious and I'm like "F you, just take it." And then there's a car that's parked badly and taking up two spots and that fed my fury, but I did manage to grab literally the last parking spot in the whole lot.
And I suddenly felt terrible. Just terrible.
This woman kind of desperately apologizing in the face of my fury made me feel ashamed of my oversized reaction. I mean yes, I was right and she was wrong. And maybe if she'd responded with her own anger, honking and cursing me out, I would have felt perversely better about the whole thing, I don't know. But her offer to give up the spot reminded me that we all do dumb and selfish and crappy things, perhaps especially from the seat of our car. Maybe her mind was elsewhere and she was oblivious to my turn signal. Maybe she wasn't taught that same etiquette that I embrace. Maybe she had a sick child or partner or friend that she was in a hurry to get something for.
On the other hand, I don't know, maybe she needed my expression of rage to realize that she'd done something wrong, to learn to do better in the future. But I do know that I don't particularly like who I am when I'm angry like that. I know that I would like to move through life with a bit more grace and compassion for my fellow travelers.
Fortunately, if there's one thing I've learned living here, it's that there will be no shortage of people needing it when I'm out on the roads. Plenty of opportunities to practice.
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