reacting to accidents with rage instead of concern

a while ago, i witnessed a minor car accident at a gas station. woman #1 was in an SUV parked at a pump. woman #2 was in a new-ish but beat up car that was backing in to the pump in front of the SUV, but wound up backing right into the SUV. woman #1 honked her horn at woman #2, who had her windows down and loudly responded, “fuck you!” and continued muttering other things i couldn’t make out. woman #1 got out of her SUV and approached the beat up car. she said to woman #2, whose windows were still down, “don’t tell me fuck you, you just backed into me. you just damaged my car.” despite her brazen tone before she was face to face with the owner of the SUV, woman #2 now refused to make eye contact and instead made herself busy rummaging about in her passenger seat while muttering things that seemed to further irritate woman #1. as i drove away, i could see that the scene continued on like this for a while, with woman #1 getting more and more angry at the insolence and lack of apology from woman #2. it was a depressing thing to witness.

it made me think about how people often react absurdly to bad things, like when my dad used to step on the cat’s tail in the kitchen. this happened frequently when i was a kid, and it always went like this:

    • dad accidentally stepped on the cat’s tail;
    • the cat howled in pain and ran away as fast as it could;
    • my dad stomped his feet and yelled, “well, don’t just sit there under my feet, for fuck’s sake!”

even as a kid, i thought that was a weird reaction. why was my dad freaking out? he wasn’t the tiny creature that just had an appendage crushed by a 220 lb pale, hairy ogre in his underwear. dad should have been concerned for the cat, sympathetic to it. even if he was annoyed by how frequently this dance occurred, he could have simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “i’m sorry but you should know better by now, even if you are just a dumb cat.”

i know i’m guilty of these kinds of reactions too, and that’s what i hate about it the most. when i see other people do it, i’m embarrassed for them but i’m also embarrassed for myself because i’m reminded that other people have surely seen me react to situations just as terribly. it’s a senseless, unattractive habit that lacks any grace whatsoever.

conversely, if woman #2 from my opening paragraph had got out of her car and approached woman #1, apologized for backing into her, and asked if woman #1 was alright, i would have thought, “that’s a strong, graceful person who is quick to admit their mistake, concerned for their fellow human, and wants to make the best out of that bad situation.”

and that’s the person i want to strive to become. i want kindness to be my default state so that no matter how awful or infuriating a situation may be, i can come out of it feeling good about the role i played in it.

now that i’ve written that, i just know one of my chickens is going to flap its wings in my face when i put them to bed tonight and really, really test me.

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road rage is bullshit

i was just reading about a woman in edmonton who honked at a car stopped in the middle of the road and drove around it, only to have that car follow her home. there, the driver got out and attacked the woman with a crowbar. both her arms were broken so police imagine the attacker was swinging for her head, and she had her arms up to defend herself.

he was trying to kill her for honking her horn.

giphy

i’m on a gif kick. and a lifelong tom cruise kick.

this sort of thing doesn’t happen at the grocery store when someone gets in your way with their shopping cart, and i think we need to ask what the difference is.

i think the biggest reason people are more prone to violence while driving is that being in a vehicle gives people a sense of disconnection from what they see on the other side of the glass: the vehicle is a barrier between a person and the world around them. put other people in other cars, and that’s another barrier between two people. i think this allows people to feel quite removed from the reality of a situation — it’s like people being rude bastards on internet forums and comments sections when they’re actually normal, decent people in real life. when we’re not face to face with other people, we can be real pricks.

that lack of connection with reality shouldn’t happen in the first place, and at the very least, it should disappear by the time someone gets out of their car with a crowbar. at that point they should think, “good grief, what am i doing? am i a killer? does this person deserve death for honking their horn at me?” but if someone has

  • kept a crowbar in their car for just these types of incidents,
  • followed another person home,
  • and hopped out of their car with said crowbar in hand,

then maybe they feel like there’s no turning back now. or maybe they’ve allowed themselves — in essence, chosen — to indulge in this adrenaline rush and thirst for blood. i personally believe the latter scenario is the most common.

it’s so fucked up. unless we find a way to make people feel more connected to those around them while driving, we’re not going to find a way to curb road rage. so i think anyone found guilty of it shouldn’t be allowed to drive, simple as that. they aren’t reasonable and rational enough to handle it.

busfight

make them all take the bus. better yet, have a bus dedicated to transporting road rage offenders. it would be like a traveling thunderdome from mad max. they’d eventually kill each other so it would both rid us of the violent SOB’s and provide top notch entertainment for the public. two birds with one stone.

dang, shoot

i keep reading about more and more shootings in the US, followed by statements from various gun rights supporters saying dumb stuff like “guns don’t kill people, PEOPLE kill people.”

the latest one i just read is from north carolina. a guy spun out and crashed while driving in a snow storm. another guy stopped to help him but could tell the driver who crashed was drunk, so he called for the police. the driver who crashed got mad and shot the other guy a bunch of times.

what a cheery little tale.

i don’t know what it will take for some people to accept the simple math that more guns means more gun-related incidents –whether those incidents are drunk people shooting good samaritans, kids finding mommy and daddy’s gun and accidentally shooting their siblings, kids taking guns to school and shooting classmates. the more guns out there, the more this stuff will happen. it’s the fucking law of averages.

i guess the tradeoff is that if you aren’t able to keep handguns in your glove box, you might not be ready when civil war or the zombie apocalypse suddenly occurs.

i’m fine with that but it seems like there is a disproportionate amount of nuts in the US who aren’t, who believe either of those events are right around the corner, who believe it’s their god-given right to keep owning guns despite the obvious consequences.

so i suppose they’re just getting what they’re asking for — they get to keep owning guns, at the expense of a lot of accidental shootings each year. if they’re ok with that, well…i guess there’s nothing to argue.

but i sure think it’s dumb.

deliverance-duo

you go on and keep your guns, and i’m gonna go on and keep living in places other than the USA.