a selfish a-hole, road rage, and an impending murder

Posted: October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Yesterday morning I had to leave work for awhile to attend an off-site training, across town.  It was kind of a quintessential fall morning, and I was not sorry for the opportunity to be out driving around in it.  The temperature was exactly to my liking, the sun was bright, and the gorgeous changing leaves were everywhere I looked.  I rolled along, relaxed and happy, looking forward to the training.

Then the road narrowed from several lanes down to one.  Construction.  The pace of traffic slowed as we merged together.  I wasn’t running late, so I was chill.  No problem.

When I was at the mouth of the spot where we finally merged down to just the one lane, traffic stopped for just a moment.  I was careful not to ride up on the bumper of the guy in front of me, but I was still not worried or stressed.  I was getting there.  This was good enough.

And then – as the line started to move again and the car ahead of me accelerated – a honk sounded from behind.  I glanced up into my rearview mirror to see the guy in the van behind me – it looked like he was giving me the what-for.

“Calm down, buttwipe!”  I was instantly snarling.  Apparently I hadn’t stomped hard enough on the gas to suit his tastes, I supposed.  The car ahead of me hadn’t even gained a full length on me.  Anger pulsed through me, not just a feeling but an actual physical sensation.  I glared into my mirror at him and kept making a running commentary on my assessment of him as I drove.  As soon as the one lane turned into two, I took the right, saying aloud that if he was in such a big damned hurry he could go on by.  He pulled on around and exited to the left within less than a block.

It wasn’t until then that I fully realized what a little rage monster I was being myself.  It was kind of a shock as it came to me – I had been in such a good mood, and the sound of a single honk had changed me into a cussing ball of anger.  What the heck?!

Some people act out on the internet.  They go on Facebook and talk in aggressive and demeaning ways that they would never use in real life.  That isn’t my usual modus operandi.  I am often kind of aghast when someone I like does a rant about something that basically ends up indirectly calling me names.  The easy example that comes to mind these days is the political diatribe – liberals calling conservatives jerks who don’t care about others as long as they get theirs, and conservatives saying that liberals are basically just too stupid to live (that’s Karen’s assessment of the 2 party lines as they play on Facebook), and when we do that thing, we are INEVITABLY saying hurtful things about people who, in real life, we love, respect, and appreciate.  We are talking to them in ways that we’d NEVER talk face-to-face.  Some days I get really tired of friends basically staying that I am too stupid to live, when I am working so hard to always remember that it’s not really true that they don’t care about others as long as they get theirs.

But really, the thing I do on the road?  It’s no different.

For the remainder of the drive, I was talking aloud to God.  Working through what had happened.  Apologizing for my terrible attitude.  Telling Him I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to act like that.  I don’t want to think like that.  I don’t want to feel like that.  None of it honors Him.  None of it honors the people He created.  None of it honors who He created me to be.

Drivers who are in a big hurry are my kryptonite when I’m out there on the road.  Yesterday was nothing new – it is my default setting to start muttering and glaring and speaking about what terrible, selfish people they are when I encounter them, complete with the cussing.  But here’s the thing:  it’s not like I don’t KNOW any drivers like that.  I have friends and family – people who are deeply important to me – who drive like that.  I don’t think THEY are worthless turds.  If I looked up in my rearview mirror and saw one of THEM trying to hurry around me (and noticed it was them), I wouldn’t be all nasty like that.  I’d chuckle and say something silly to myself and get out of their way.

In that case, it would be so easy for me to just let them be them, and me be me, and not need to place a moral value judgment on driving style.  I wouldn’t need to take personal offense about the few moments that our lives intersected on a street.  I wouldn’t.  I could offer SO MUCH GRACE in that case.

So why don’t I offer that grace to the strangers who do so?

Because I don’t know them.

Because it’s easy to slap a label on a stranger.

Because, even though my reaction is to be mad at their entitlement attitude (“I get to be at the front of all lines, always!”) I am not even TRYING to notice my own entitlement attitude (“My way of driving is right, and I have been appointed the judge of all other drivers!”)

Because I’m not being intentional in being prayerful for every person I meet on the road – I do that pretty well almost everywhere else, but it’s like I think the road is an exception to the rule of praying for all people at all times.

Because on the road, I’m a selfish a-hole, really.  I just am. I drive around thinking everyone else is a selfish a-hole, and I don’t look in the darn mirror at the one selfish a-hole that I have the power to change in any degree at all.

It’s within my power to change it.  I know how this works.  First I start changing my actions and words, and I work on surrendering to God, who changes my attitudes in response.  I’ve done this before on countless fronts.  It works.  I KNOW it works.

I just gotta work it.

Karen the Road Rage Monster has got to die.

Here’s to my next act of murder.  Wish me well.  Pray for me, even!  I need it, folks.

  1. billsmockins@frontiernet.net says:

    Ouch!  This hits home!  I am better, but still the road rage monster lives within.  He reared his ugly head just yesterday.  So I definitely needed to read this. 

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