Anger is insidious. And it tends to feed on itself. Anyone who knows me, is aware that I have a bit of anger sitting in a deep well inside my gut (I can almost hear my wife upstairs, nodding her head vigorously). I take great pains not to let that anger get the best of me or direct it at others. Why would I? There are so many ways to productively deal with one’s anger, there’s no “reasonable” cause to direct it at another human being.
I was running errands yesterday morning, as I usually do. One of my stops included getting fuel for the family vehicle, which I had been planning on doing for the past couple of days. When I finished paying for my fuel, I exited the gas station onto a four-lane boulevard that ran west to east. The boulevard had a centre lane that allows for turning left or right, which is a common street layout at various locations throughout the city.
My vehicle was placed within the median lane without blocking any traffic, and I was watching the east-bound traffic for an opening to pull into the main driving lane. An approaching pickup truck signaled and moved over to its right, leaving me with an opening to pull into the lane. I merged into the lane and was greeted with the loud sound of a blaring vehicle horn.
I looked to my right and found a black pickup truck (not the one that changed lanes) pull up next to me and the male driver started gesturing and yelling at me. I couldn’t see my own face, of course. But I imagine I had a look of confusion mixed with indignation at being harassed by a random stranger. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I can confirm I hadn’t even seen this truck when I checked before pulling out. But suddenly, he was right there!
I pulled into the left turning lane, as my intention had been to head North on the cross street. He pulled up next to me in the next lane and lowered his window. Despite my better judgement and the fact I probably shouldn’t have, I lowered my window as well. Here’s the exchange:
Angry Driver: “What the fuck is your problem, shit-head? You’re not supposed to pull out of the gas station there!”
ME: “Of course, I can. That median lane is for turning either direction. Always has been. I saw the truck switching lanes to let me in and I took the opening.”
AD: “He moved right because he was turning right, shit-head! I have the right of way and you pulled right in front of me! What the fuck is wrong with you???”
This was a strange occurrence. It wasn’t the aspect of cutting the guy off that bothered me. I can totally admit that I might have cut him off. But this felt like a role reversal. Usually, I find myself being the one who gets angry and frustrated at other drivers. Although, true to form with the population of this city, the worst one ever faces is the actual vehicle horn. Actual interactions generally don’t happen unless a collision occurs.
AD: “What kind of shit-head are you? Do you not know how to drive…?
I offered an apology, uncertain as to whether is sounded sincere or not, and tried to explain that I hadn’t seen him. He continued to call me a shit-head and swear at me, so I raised my window and let it go. I guess he’s the kind of guy who finds an offensive name he enjoys and uses it, ad nauseam. I was somewhat taken aback by the level of anger and aggression he was using against me for something so trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Did I cut him off? Maybe. I’m even ready to say probably. But there’s no rational reason to chase someone down and start swearing and name-calling because of it. I get angry. My wife can confirm her level of entertainment she gets at hearing me grumble and swear when we’re dealing with traffic. But she can also confirm that following someone to yell, argue and call them names is well beyond even MY anger. I mean, come on!
Folks, life is too short. Things will make you angry. Things will make you frustrated. That’s a part of life. The idea is not to try NOT to be angry; the idea is to find a productive way to vent that anger. And most certainly not pass it on to others. Let’s think about it for a moment. What has this guy accomplished with how he treated me, yesterday? Did he solve the problem? Did it take it back? Of course not. All it did was stoke the flames of his anger further. He probably drove on to his destination with a knot of angst in his gut and hatred for a person he doesn’t even know. I continued on to my destination stressed, confused and harassed without even being aware that I had done something wrong. As Elsa from Frozen once said, let it go… ☯