by Al Drinkle
Road rage is a funny thing. Driving can be difficult and frustrating, but so can other activities such as filing taxes or housebreaking pets and these latter responsibilities rarely send otherwise level-headed people into a cataclysm of fury in the way that operating a motor vehicle can.
I’m a 6-foot-tall male whose default facial expression doesn’t invite frequent confrontation, and I’ve noticed that when walking down city streets, nobody breathes down my neck and steps on my heels if they want me to quicken my pace, nor do they explode into a tirade of insults if they feel that I’ve stepped out of turn. Yet there’s something about being safely enclosed in a vehicle that gives certain people the courage to be the aggressive A-holes that social conventions prevent them from being in real life. Is it merely the fear of getting punched or berated that instigates daily diplomacy, with both potential consequences being conveniently invalidated when driving?
Depending on the day, I might be a pedestrian, cyclist or driver and this offers me the unfortunate insight of vehicular tribalism. When I’m on my bike, the amount of unsolicited verbal hatred and physical peril imposed upon me by some drivers is insane. It’s my mere presence that sends them spiralling into unhinged rage and the worst part is that I’m deprived of the opportunity to assure them that it’s also not my preference to share the road with incendiary sadists in sheet-metal homicide machines… why don’t they write a fucking letter to city council?!? I fear that for many of us, the patience and humility that we exercise in our daily lives is just a façade for the repressed aggression that we’re too cowardly to impose upon others unless we’re in a vehicle.
Perhaps my fear is exaggerated, but if it is, there must be something about the act of driving that turns genuinely nice people into douchebags. I can only assume that it’s the fact that when driving, one must severely limit the amount that one drinks. My answer – don’t drive. Instead, focus on drinking delicious wine and spare yourself unneeded stress.