Today I had a moment in which I was ashamed of myself and came to the realization that all people, including mild mannered me....please no comments...can have a startling Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moment.
Have you ever watched the HBO stand-up “Oh. My. God.” By Louie C.K.? At one point he talks about how he transforms into this person whom he doesn’t even recognize when he is driving in his car. Words, expressions and horrible things that he would never ever say to anyone in any other circumstance, suddenly flow freely the moment that he is behind the wheel of his car. Even if someone does something super minimal, something that does not corrupt the flow of traffic or put him in any real danger, he will go off the deep-end and say something downright horrific to the driver of that car (obviously the other driver can’t hear him).
Well today that was me. And no, it was not my first offense of saying slanderous obscenities to complete strangers while driving in my car. Things that I would never ever say outside of my vehicle just come pouring from my mouth without a thought of how incredibly vile they sound coming from any human being. Plus I am usually such a courteous driver! I let people in and I give little waves when others let me in! I don’t rush to beat red lights and I don’t get all bent out of shape when I am stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Now you’re probably thinking “Omigod! What is this callous person saying to these poor people?” In my defense, these horrible things likely aren’t as bad as 90% of the filth that comes out of most people’s mouths, but by my personal standards, they’re pretty bad. And as soon as I say them I am like, “GASP! Why did I just say that?” What compels me to become this profanity slinging motorist? Most of the time I am a go-with-the-flow, take things as they come at me, kind of person who wouldn’t let something like getting cut off on the TransCanada by a crappy little Nissan Sentra, send me into a verbal tailspin.
But them sometimes…..
Is it knowing that I can verbally attack a complete stranger without him/her ever knowing it that allows me to curse and wish malicious things upon that person? Yes he cut me off and I had to slam on my brakes to keep from rear-ending him…but does that make it OK for me speak the way I did? Even if he never knows it?
Maybe I’m just spending too much time driving from Point A to Point B these days and it’s turning me into this person. Or maybe I just miss having a job that allows me to swear like a sailor (damn I miss the bakery sometimes). Maybe I need to find an outlet for this road rage.
This story on livescience.com (I love this website) says that we are simply territorial creatures and the car is just an extension of our territory. When people tail-gate, cut us off or do something within close proximity that affects our territory, we get emotional and end up in a state of mental and verbal chaos. But what I don’t get is that if someone were to cut me off in a place such as a clothing store and I had to take a couple step backs to avoid getting pushed over, yes that person got into my personal space but I wouldn’t verbally attack the that person.
I think being able to swear, curse and yell obscenities in the safety of the car is what sends us into the road rage state. Having that one space to say the things that we normally could never say to people is a form of aggressive outlet. I’m not saying that this is a good thing and I am ashamed of what I say when cooped up in the privacy of my little Honda…but at least I know that this is normal and it’s not as though I do it very often. Most of the time I am too busy belting out the words to whatever song my iPod flips to to put out the effort to yell at the stranger in the Tacoma in front of me.
I’ll get to Point B when I get there.