But when I’m in my car, Don’t give me no crap, Cause the slightest thing and I just might snap

By   |  August 9, 2008

I find it amusing that we consider our cars to be extensions of ourselves on the road.  However, I don’t find it as amusing when other drivers become hyper-aggressive when “protected” by their metal casing.

I will confess, I have been prone to letting my thoughts (and my hand gestures) slip out of control on a drive here and there (OK, OK, it was so bad at one point when I resided in New Mexico that I had to limit myself to one flip off and one cussing out of a driver.  Per day.)  I will also confess that I reign in such behavior when I am driving in what I think of as “high-risk zones,” (i.e. the 73, Los Angeles County, anywhere at night or that’s relatively vacant).  I also behave myself when there are others riding with me.  But I have never actually acted out by using my vehicle, my hands, or any other instrument as a weapon (but ah, yes, I have fantasized about it).

So why don’t we all have scars from show-downs on the 5 during rush hour?  It boils down to the fight just not being worth it – the energy expenditure on such situations is ridiculous at best.  Yet we all still find ourselves becoming outraged for some of the smallest infractions.  (One of my biggest driving pet peeves is looking in my rear view mirror to see some jackass riding my bumper because I have taken the time to pause appropriately.  I joke that I will get a bumper sticker that reads: “This vehicle stops at ALL stop signs.”)  Could this be a result of thinking we’re entitled to more than others or that we don’t have to obey a law simply because it does not suit our current whim? (Or, in the case of some lucky Orange County residents – too rich to have to obey the law?)  I am reminded of a comment from a passerby who was interviewed on Fox News recently about a crack-down in Los Angeles on drivers who run red lights making right-hand turns.  When asked what he thought, his reply was, “It’s ridiculous.  If I want to turn and not slow down for a red light, that’s my right.”

Yes, you read that correctly: the gentleman clearly believes that he has the right to run a red light when making a right turn.  Nevermind the fact that the light is red for a reason, this man needs to turn, NOW!  Everybody out of the way!

Now take drivers with attitudes I just described, and place them on a painful, long, brutally congested commute, and you have the pressure cooker that is commuting from Riverside.  I ran across this article that, although a little dated, makes an interesting point:  people like to make up for lost time and can be very reckless and aggressive when doing so.  Especially when they’re hungry.

I have been a little better recently; what’s helped is putting myself in the other person’s seat and ultimately, just letting it go.  What’s the point?  I smirked the other day when several people felt it was their place to block me into the carpool lane so I could not exit properly when I wanted to, I assume, because they could not see my additional passenger.

But now and again, there will be that individual who speeds up so I cannot make a lane change, or who practically clips my car, forcing me to slam on my brakes on the freeway, and all I can think of is the Offspring’s “Bad Habit.”

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