Nothing sexier than that vein bulging out of your neck because a Prius cut you off. #52Essays2017 Day 9
I don’t know what changes. I don’t know what it is about climbing into that moving, metal container of space that makes me more susceptible to demonic forces, but I suddenly turn into an unrecognizable version of myself behind the wheel. It’s something that I’m consciously aware of when I’m not in the car, something that I know is bad for my emotional health and the health of those around me, and yet it feels almost impossible for me to get a handle on.
It started off as road irritation - a simple smirk or sigh when some other diver did some idiotic thing - but now it’s graduated to a full-fledged, demon-possessed, road rage.
I’m blaring the horn (though, to be fair, only when someone is in danger of hitting me); waving my hands in some desperate attempt to clear slow drivers out of the way; flying around people who make it their personal mission to go 60mph in the left lane; and talking/yelling at other cars as if they can hear me through the windshield. Shit, it’s gotten so bad that I’ll start fussing at people when I’m not even driving - just a passenger - and my loved ones can attest to that.
But today I hit a new personal low in the road rage records: sensing that someone was going to cut me off because they were in the wrong lane, I slammed my foot on the gas pedal and let them get within inches of my car before giving up the fight and letting them cut in front of me. Now, despite the fact that the person intentionally cut me off because they didn’t feel like waiting to get over, I felt out of control with how pissed it all made me and continues to make me. I haven’t gotten to the point of following down my window and screaming at people because I don’t think I’ll like getting shot, but in my own head and my own car I was calling that person all kinds of names I don’t even believe in saying. Bitch-ass, pussy-ass, I feel better when I scream at you-ass.
All to say - I’m pissed when I get behind the wheel because I’m pissed in other areas of my life. Pissed at the state of the world and the entitlement washing over this here Bay Area. Now, my being pissed at the world doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be accountable for turning into an animal behind the wheel. But when people feel important enough to go around everyone who’s waiting and cut them off like they’re better than all of us, well, I’m going to make it my personal mission to leave them no stretch of road to do so. (…I don’t think this is the type of “defensive driving” I learned about in school).
The thing is, I know that none of it matters. None of it is going to matter. That “bitch-ass” that cut me off ain’t thinking about me, and really could be a lovely individual who believes in smashing the patriarchy as much as she believes in smashing cars. And not only does it matter that other people drive like dicks, I’m doing my own self a disservice by letting it get to me. And I know all of this on a conscious tip. We’ll see what happens tomorrow on 35th street before the freeway, where no one seems to know which lane leads to which freeway because they drive for Lyft.
I don’t put all of this out there because I need strategies on how to manage road rage or clear out the negative energy in my car - I’ve already read those self-help articles. But I write this as a reminder to myself of what I value in my life, and what stresses me in my life. A reminder to myself to relinquish control and focus on my own behavior and my own choices. A reminder to myself that toxicity breeds more toxicity, especially in a four-door, sealed, metal container. I may suffocate myself with all that negativity.
I’m not going to stop my demonic road rage tendencies all in one day, but I’m drying. Deep, deep breaths. And at the very least, I’ll stop listening to Knuck If You Buck while on the road.
musings of a Black, queer and genderqueer activist, educator, musician.