Anybody who knows me very well knows my complete lack of patience for traffic. Okay, it’s not traffic that bothers me. Traffic is an inanimate entity, the result of several contributing factors. As such, it can’t be blamed for its effect on the surrounding world. So traffic isn’t really the problem. It’s all those other people on the road.
My pastor used to love reading my weekly column, and several times he worked me into his sermon with a friendly jab at what he considered a mild case of road rage. That’s a pretty harsh term, don’t you think? If only he knew.
I should set the stage by saying I don’t mind sharing the road. We all have someplace to go. I just wish a few more people would go someplace else and take some friends with them. I’m not talking about everybody. Just the inconsiderate jerks who think their time is more valuable than everybody else’s.
You know the people I’m talking about. The ones who drive past a line of fifty cars at a freeway exit and force their way in at the front of the line, giving you the finger as they try to take off your front bumper. The people who weave in and out of traffic, lights flashing and horn blowing, just to be next in line at the McDonald’s drive-thru. And the ones who pass on the right because you’re not going fast enough, then jump in front of you and slam on the brakes because there’s a cop ahead. By the time he looks up to see what’s going on, they’re all nice and innocent and you get a ticket for tailgating.
Wow, that spilled out way too easily! But let’s face it, even for a die-hard humorist like me, inconsiderate drivers can present some challenges. It’s hard to find a lot to laugh about when you’re playing a game of vehicular rugby.
But one day several years ago, I knew I had to change. I came to this realization as I sat in a line of stopped traffic with my door open to keep people from squeezing between my truck and the concrete barricade that officially ended the left lane a quarter-mile behind us, with a 20-ounce claw hammer in my lap, just waiting for an excuse to fling it through somebody’s back window. I wish I was making this up.
But the thing is, no amount of anger on my part ever changed one person’s driving habits. The same drivers are out there today, driving exactly the same way. All I did was raise my blood pressure and make bad matters worse. On the plus side, I did get some exercise. By the time I quit that job, I could lift nine pounds with my middle finger.
So when I hit the road as a comedian, I made a commitment to myself that I would be more patient in traffic. Whenever possible, I took back roads instead of the freeway. I started listening to comedy on my satellite radio. And I used the time in stopped traffic to rehearse new material for my next show. If nothing else, the sight of me sitting in my truck talking to myself gave everybody else something to laugh about. At least I made their day.
If you were waiting for me to tell you how I laugh my way through heavy traffic, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Even I haven’t found much to laugh about there. But since I learned to find humor in the other areas of my life, things like traffic just don’t bother me as much. I’ve learned to keep things in perspective, and to more graciously accept the things I just can’t change. And I’ve also learned a couple of really cute non-verbal gestures that are a lot more respectable than extending the middle finger, but send pretty much the same message. Hey, I’m making progress.
I doubt I’ll ever look forward to a nice rush-hour commute, and I doubt I’ll ever find much tolerance for people who somehow feel a greater sense of entitlement to the road we’re destined to share. But I’m thankful I’ve learned to laugh at some of life’s other distractions more often. It’s made the drive a lot less stressful. And on those rare occasions when I do give someone the finger, I do it with a smile. That should be worth something.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon
Dave, I’ve always let these road warriors pass me. These idoits always seem to have the mental attitude of “I’ve gotta be first in line.” Then, I laugh when I see the cop giving them a ticket!
Thanks Joanie. I thought that was you. I especially liked the way you smiled and waved as I signed my ticket. Nice touch. It made me completely forget the $132 fine.
Okay, I couldn’t resist. That actually happened to me once. 🙂
Thanks for taking time to write. And I agree with you wholeheartedly. I wish I could find a way to laugh at aggressive drivers, but as I said the ability to laugh at most everything else makes up for it, and I just don’t seem to mind so much anymore. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it’s just the reality that life is too short, and I flat refuse to race anybody else to the other end. Especially if they’re driving like that.
We don’t have traffic jams here, except in Wal-Mart. I guess I have buggy rage from time to time so maybe that counts. the Medicare Mom
Traffic jams in Walmart … what does this say about our standard of living???
I have a divinely appointed task to teach such drivers how to drive.
It’s not working. My wife says it will never work and after ten years or so of trying to prove her wrong, I too am learning to let others take the fast lane and get out their way.
Learning, I said. I haven’t made it yet!
I have at least decided that it probably wasn’t a divinely appointed task.
Ian, if you ever figure it out, give me a yell. I finally just gave up and moved into the slow lane!