A remarkable thing happens when I get into my car.
It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having. I could be having a perfectly lovely day, in a glorious mood, everything going my way. And then I get behind the wheel and I turn into the Hulk. I am instantly filled with rage and impatience. So long as I am in that car, I am Queen Bitch. And then I get to my destination, hop out of the car, and my cheerful mood resumes.
Suffice it to say, I have some form of road rage.
Now I’m not one of those people that will purposely harass you on the road because of some perceived slight, nor am I the kind to hop out of my vehicle at a stop sign to attempt violence. But I will hex you and your bloodline past, present, and future into oblivion.
I do not know why I’m like this. Because I wasn’t always like this. I’ve done a lot of driving in my years since acquiring my license. I’ve done my time commuting for work and I used to take regular trips to the Chicago area, a two and a half/three hour drive depending on how you feel about speed limits. I’ve driven to Arkansas and Buffalo. There is a part of me that likes to drive sometimes. On one of my commutes, I found a stretch of meditation in the form of taking the back road to catch the highway. Just crank the radio, roll down the window, and go.
This didn’t mean that I wouldn’t get irritated with other drivers. Part of the reason I took the back roads was to avoid them. The best highway commutes were when the cars were few and far between. I was not above voicing vocal frustration at people acting like they learned to drive at the demolition derby. Or the people who found the speed limits too high and sought to slow down the entire flow of traffic.
I stopped those twenty-thirty minute commutes years ago. Since 2019, I’ve barely driven out of town. I pretty much only drive around town, to and from work, running errands. And it seems that with the shortened distances have come a shortened temper.
I have a short drive to get to the library. Honestly, I should walk, but I don’t want to get dressed for work any earlier than I have to. Also, I don’t want to go to work sweaty. Anyway, it is amazing how many swear words I can cram into such a short drive because everyone pisses me off. There are days, of course, in which I manage the drive without incident. But more often than not, someone doesn’t know how to work the square or someone can’t work a four way stop or someone can’t work the parking lot or someone decides to just walk out in front of my car.
Allow me to remind you that I live in a small town, not some busy metropolis, and my commute to work is all of five minutes.
The fact that my chill vacates the second the key hits the ignition bothers me more than the people I swear at while I drive (I admit that it’s a tiny-margin victory). I’m beginning to suspect that I haven’t mastered the art of calm in other areas of my life at all and instead, I’m just detouring it all to ride shotgun with me whenever I’m driving around town.
I’m carpooling with my stress.
Maybe I should get a bike.