Monday, October 30, 2006

Patience's verb: waiting (ie. Road Rage)

How is it that some people just do not understand waiting? Waiting is the verb behind the fundamentally important human trait of patience. We all do it, every day. I cannot possibly imagine how horrible life must be for people without patience. Today's world would literally drive you insane.

This morning while driving to work, there is a one lane section of road that gets backed up a half mile or so by a small stoplight. The line of cars ahead was slowing, so I came to a stop before crossing into an uncontrolled intersection. I left a few car lengths between me and the car in front of me so that other cars could still use the intersection, since I wasn't going to be able to move much further anyway.

The car behind me honked.

A few cars went through the intersection and when the line ahead of me started up, I started moving. Since we would all be stuck through 2 or 3 more iterations of the stoplight (still about a half mile away), I was still trailing the car ahead of me by a good 8 or so car lengths.

The car behind me honked again.

Apparently, I was not following close enough for the liking of the driver behind me. So, I did what any rational driver would do. I calmly rolled down my window, and showed her my longest finger.

100 yards later, someone was trying to come out of a driveway into our half mile line of cars. Normally there is roughly a 25% chance that I would let him in. Today, obviously, that chance rose to 100%.

Shortly thereafter, I approached the light and moved to the left a little (mind you this is still a one lane road) in anticipation of turning left at the light. The car behind me started to squeeze by on the right, then subtly attempted to move back in front of me, all while driving less than 2 feet off the bumper of the car in front of me. THE CAR WAS PASSING ME ON A ONE LANE ROAD OF BUMPER TO BUMPER TRAFFIC.

I leaned on the horn for a full 5 seconds.

The light turned green and I accelerated. My nemesis next to me accelerated. I slowed down to match the pace of the car in front of me trying to turn left. My nemesis slowed down to be even with me. At this point there were no cars in front of her...they had all gone straight through when the light turned green.

She rolled down her window as we both sped up. I turned left and never saw her again.

Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that it's no faster for me to be riding the ass of the car in front of me. We're all going to get there at the same moment. THIS WOMAN WAS WILLING TO GET INTO A FIGHT WITH ME, A TOTAL STRANGER, BECAUSE I WAS NOT DRIVING CLOSE ENOUGH TO ANOTHER CAR.

Impatience defined. Maybe it was that insanity I mentioned earlier.

I am usually able to stay calm, but this got me a little worked up. I can't even say why exactly, because a large part of me thought it was pretty funny how easily this woman was bent out of shape.

I understand being impatient. It sucks waiting in line for stuff. It sucks being put on hold. There will be hundreds and thousands of times in your life that you will have to wait. Most of the time, it is beyond your control. What is the point of getting impatient? This woman ruined her entire drive to work (and mine) just so she could try to get to work a few seconds faster.

If you can remove yourself from a situation that repeatedly makes you impatient, do so. If you can't? Well then, you'll just have to wait patiently with the rest of us.

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