Today’s going to be a light topic.
On my drive in to work this morning, I was thinking of the words and phrases that pop into my head, like “I really don’t want to meet you today” and “that was an interesting move” or “easy, easy buddy”.
This inner dialogue is much different than days past when I was a regular road-rager. I am very proud of myself for conquering my angry urges years ago. Winning that battle has served me very well and keeps driving a real pleasure for me.
Phrases like “A@@hole!!” and “Learn to DRIVE!!” have been replaced by thoughts of “well they must be texting” or “she may be on medication or something…”.
I won’t get into exactly how I conquered my road rage, but instead, I want to focus on the few new phrases that usually run through my head while driving.
“I REALLY DON’T WANT TO MEET YOU TODAY”
This is what I think to myself when someone almost hits my car.
The chances of meeting that person goes up dramatically if they trade paint with you. The exchange of information for repairs and – God forbid, a police report – necessitate a meeting. But this is a meeting that is neither pleasant nor expected.
Dealing with your insurance is going to be time consuming and stressful and you will be without your car during repairs. It’s just a real hassle. So meeting that person (who potentially almost hit you) should be avoided at all cost.
“THAT WAS AN INTERESTING MOVE”
You really have to marvel at the fact that a driver’s license is so easy to obtain. The level of training required before getting this little piece of plastic freedom is minimal. So the quality of people unleashed on the roads with the potential to end your life, or that of your loved ones, is actually quite scary.
With movies like Fast and Furious and games like GTAV being so popular, people tend to imagine themselves as heroes (or villains) when they get behind the wheel.
For this very reason, I keep my head on a constant swivel – rotating from front to mirrors to side windows – in an effort to recognize and assess potential threats. I find myself instinctively avoiding potentially dangerous drivers and situations. I really don’t want to meet these Darwin Award candidates if it can be avoided.
The phrase “that was an interesting move” is a reflection of my acknowledgment that the roads are full of potential hazards that are avoidable – yet plentiful. If I was to quickly suck in air and go to shock face every time I see a near miss on the road, that would be my permanent face, just like my mother warned me about.
So I calmly think in my head “that was an interesting move”, silently acknowledge that nothing bad happened, and drive on further down the road, head still on a swivel.
“EASY, EASY BUDDY”
This is the phrase going through my head as the car next to me starts to drift into my lane. I always try to maintain an “out”, but I don’t want to jump lanes unless I have to. It tends to freak other drivers out.
In all my years of driving, I have never seen a car drift into the side of another. I have seen dozens (or hundreds) of near misses, but never actual NASCAR trading paint contact. So I realize it’s rare and use this knowledge to keep myself calm during near misses on the road.
My view of LA freeway driving – or any other road with other cars, for that matter – is, we are all fish swimming down the same stream.
Some fish are bigger than others – like big rig trucks -and are slower and less maneuverable.
Some fish are small and light and quick – darting in and out of traffic.
Some fish are medium sized and swim like a minivan.
Some fish are old. Really, really old fish.
Some fish are either sedated or medicated. A lot of fish are swimming without all their faculties. Be very aware of this – knowledge is power.
We all fall into one of these fishy categories. So just imagine yourself flowing down the stream. Respect and acknowledge your fellow fish and keep your swimming tight. We may just all get to where we are going without incident.
I plan to add to this list of phrases as I remember them. Feel free to add to my list in the comments section below.
Giving a moment’s attention to the knowledge that we are all free on the road, the road is full of potential threats, there is literally nothing we can do individually to eliminate the threats, but we can take steps to mitigate them is what calms me down.
That’s a long way of saying the word ACCEPTANCE.
Don’t cause yourself undo stress over issues that you cannot control – like who gets behind the wheel of a car.
Just accept it.
It is what it is.
So prepare yourself ahead of time to protect yourself and your car.