Road Rage – are you guilty of it?

Last week, I was driving with my wife in the carpool lane. As my exit was coming near, I signaled to exit the carpool lane when the double yellow lines ended. There was a lady driving her BMW in the left lane and would not let me change lanes. I must say I was getting a little upset, as my exit was coming and did not want to miss it. I started talking to her as if she was listening, “Hey lady, let me pass, OK?” (Don’t tell me you haven’t done that. I know you have. And I am sure you have used more colorful language, right?) So I kinda forced myself into the lane. And guess what she did? She started honking like there was no tomorrow. (Bet you already knew that, since you would have done the same, wouldn’t you?)And then I looked in the rear view mirror and I see her flipping the bird with both hands. I must say that I kept my cool, and just shook my head in resignation. I turned to my wife and said, “Looks like she must have had a fight with someone this morning.”

Later on the same day, (I guess it was one of those days, huh?)I got to an intersection just as the light was turning red, and I needed to make a right turn. So, just as I was giving the signal to make the right turn (mind you, I wasn’t turning yet, just giving the signal), another driver coming from my left, started honking just to make sure I did not cut in front of her (yes it was another woman), and gave me another finger as she zipped by.She was clearly pissed at something it seemed like. I am going,” what did I do today?” “Why are these women so fond of their middle fingers?” I took a deep breath, centered myself, and continued on my way to the hospital.

If it had been a few years ago, I probably would have become angry at these drivers, shook my fist at them, and probably sped up behind them to return the favor. But I learnt long ago to let it go. Ever since I started working on myself, on my own spiritual growth, I have tried not to let these things bother me. You want to know what went into my mind after the second incident? I was thinking, what a great topic for my next blog…LOL.

Seriously, though, I was a little sad. I was wondering whether this was a sign of the times when people are becoming so stressed that they are forgetting their humanity, or it was just a fluke. Or maybe I was reading too much into it, just because I was the brunt of their anger. Then yesterday, I was talking to a friend of mine who related another incident that happened with him that made us both shake our heads in sadness. This was not an example of road rage but how people are becoming desensitized to the human condition. People have become so preoccupied with their own affairs that they look at someone struggling in front of them and just ignore them as if they couldn’t care less.

My friend, let’s call him Joe, relates that he was standing in line at a Chipotle restaurant. It was a long line, and as he happened to glance at the front of the line, he saw a heavy set woman who probably weighed more than 200 lbs, ordering a meal that was, shall we say, not very healthy. In addition, she appeared to be from a “lower” socio-economic class than the others. And she was trying to balance her tray with one hand while pushing a cart with the other hand. The tray appeared as if it would fall any minute. My friend looked at the people in line and saw that they were all looking at the woman, with varying degrees of disgust and amusement, but none of them did anything to help her. It was as if she was too beneath them because she obviously did not take care of herself. And most of the people standing in line were young adults. Joe, who is in his 60’s, decided to do the right thing and went over to her. While saying to her, “Here, let me help you,” he gently took the tray out of her hands and helped her to her table. He was so disgusted with the cold response that this lady got, including the employees, that he asked for the manager. When he relayed the incident to her, all he got was, well we are too busy to worry about that. Do you see the long line? We can’t spare anyone.

Well, that may be true, but it doesn’t alter the fact that out of a crowd of 20 plus people, only a person from the older generation had the heart to help out a neighbor in need. What does that say about the current generation? Isn’t that an indictment against this generation that such acts of selflessness are so rare that they stand out? Have we become so selfish that we don’t even care what happens to our fellow men and women?

A friend of mine, Rosleen, shared a video on her Facebook page the other day that brought tears to my eyes. I liked it so much that I shared it on my page. If you haven’t seen the video, check out my FB page or the video below. I don’t usually post a lot of stuff, so it should not be too hard to find. It is titled, Stop and Think. If it doesn’t touch your emotions, then you sure are inured to the human condition. Check your pulse, you may be a robot. You can only think of yourselves.

But I am an optimist. I don’t think people are inherently insensitive. Life is a test. A test of your convictions, of your humanity, of your beliefs, and above all, a test of your courage. People are not robots, without any feeling or emotions. Their emotions and feelings may have been suppressed because of the conditions of our times, but when exposed to their true nature, their humanity shines through. It may take a little bit of uncovering, like the layers of an artichoke, to unmask their true selves, but I believe people can change. That’s why I do what I do. There is a lot of stress in this world, and it does not seem to be getting any less. When you are exhausted, burnt-out and running on empty, it is hard to become sensitive to the sufferings of others.

I hope next time you are on the road, if someone cuts you off or gives you the finger, rather than screaming obscenities, you may want to send thoughts of positive energy towards them. They are probably stressed out and cannot help themselves. Instead of using the middle finger technique, use the 2-finger technique: put the tips of your index finger and your thumb together, and send a thought of positivity and gratitude towards them. If nothing else, it will help to keep you cool.

Until next time
Be enlightened.