I have a confession to make. I have mild road rage. I want to emphasize ‘mild’ because I don’t want to create the impression that I’m one of those lunatics that honks, gestures and/or engages in any threatening actions towards other drivers, nor do I engage in erratic driving behaviour when my rage is sparked. My road rage is more like a slow and intense burning ember that starts small, then creeps through and quickly takes over my entire being until I am on the verge of spontaneous combustion.
It can’t be healthy to hold all that rage inside of me, so I thought it would be amusing to ask commuting colleagues for suggestions on calming road rage, and also to see what the internet has to offer. As I expected, I was greeted with a wide array of options, all of which I quickly deemed as completely unsuitable for me. Let me share with you the five suggestions I found most comical and unhelpful:
1. Classical Music: I have never understood those that find shrill violin notes, clanging cymbals, and bold swells of orchestral music calming. Classical music isn’t soothing to me at the best of times. I find it jolting and irritating. I can only imagine how much more it would annoy me as I sit in an endless stream of cars crawling, crawling, crawling, ad infinitum.
2. Podcasts/Audiobooks: I love to read, but I cannot for the life of me follow a story that’s being read to me. I am not an auditory learner. Back in high school (yes, in high school), I had this one teacher who insisted on going through chapter upon chapter of Dickens through read-alouds. She thought it was saving us homework time. No, I had to go home and re-read everything because I absorbed nothing from narration. And don’t even get me started on some of the horrible audiobook narration out there. Once, a colleague made me listen to a vampire audiobook narrated by a women who mistakenly thought she had a knack for southern accents. My goal is to reduce my annoyance, not increase it.
3. Breathe deep and relax: Oh, this one. This one is such a perfectly rational suggestion. If only its proponents understood that when strong emotional reactions are triggered, rationality is the first thing to fly out the window. I can successfully breathe deeply when in the throws of road rage, but it’s not at all out of relaxation. No, my rush hour deep breathing is more like rage-induced hyperventilation. I don’t think that’s what these people have in mind.
4. Hand Yoga: This one was almost my favourite. Almost. I read it and I actually said a big “WTF” aloud because, seriously, what is hand yoga? I didn’t know such a thing existed and I can only imagine that some other motorist would assume I was rudely gesturing at him or her, and that can only end badly. Hand yoga? Come on.
5. “Imagine sending love and joy to every motorist you see”: I kid you not this was an actual line of text from a site offering tips for managing road rage. I mean, again, I understand the rational nature of this suggestion, but if there’s one thing I can see when I commute, it’s that there is very little love on the road. And I can safely say that I have no desire to send love and joy to the many categories of drivers that provoke my rush hour rage, namely the: lane change leap-froggers, giant trucks that block my field of vision, extreme accelerators and brakers, and carpool lane cheaters. Take your love and joy and shove it.
If anyone has legitimately helpful tips for how I can reduce my road rage, please let me know. Until then, I will continue with my own strategy of calling my poor parents who, by virtue of being retired and my parents, are available and basically have to listen to me rant about road conditions on an almost daily basis.