September 28, 2004

Road Rage

Hello everyone in Bloggsville!

This is my first post and true to my nature, I will not be discussing politics directly as the title suggests, but rather take a more mundane and tortuous path to the arena of political discourse.

This past weekend, my buddy Jay and I went on our yearly camping trip. We were short by one person, as our nefarious DWPMF brother Marcelle was not able to make it. He was mightily missed, but the show must go on! While camping, we typically engage in massive, binge drinking and general discussions of porn, bitches and ho's (sorry Ma!). That's not to say that our conversations are not enlightening, but simply that we tend to commune with nature in a more animanly manner. But I digress. While driving back from the black wasteland of the previous three days, Jay and I began to discuss the nature of road rage. Now, for those of you that know me, road rage is an addiction that I too often succumb. Well, here's the bottom line:

  • In America, as population density has increased, our ability to offer courtesy as a normal trait of communication between strangers has declined.

  • As courtesy has declined with regards to strangers, the level of selfishness has increased. In fact, it may even be a converse relationship although I have no proof of this statement.

  • Road rage REQUIRES communication amongst strangers.

Generically speaking, road rage requires a cause. I mean, really, whoever suffered through the adrenaline rush of road rage on a long, lonely road? Couldn't the driver of a vehicle be considered mentally unstable if he suddenly engaged in road rage all on his own? Both of these questions really get at the crux of the issue. You see, Jay is a firm believer that road rage is caused not by some courtesy lacking dumb-ass, but is rather caused by the person experiencing said dumb-ass' behavior. Now, while I agree that none of us can blame our emotions or lack of self-control on someone else, I can equally state the exercise of self-control would never become an issue if it weren't for the initial cause of the exercise; the other driver's selfish behavior. How we choose to react is subsequently open to argument.

This past summer, my wife and I did a bit of travelling. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit friends and family in Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. It was refreshing to get to drive out West again. People are generally and overtly more courteous. If I were driving in Boston and came upon someone enforcing the speed limit (which no-one even remotely follows) in the fast lane (that'd be the far left lane for all of you New Englanders), my neighborly Bostonian would ensure that I knew, that they knew they were now impeding my progress. As is often the case, this behavior can be further manifested by the middle-finger and general ranting that follows when I am forced to pass on the right. I hate to pass on the right because if I'm passing you on the right, it means you are in the wrong fucking lane forcing me to pass on the right. Conversely, out West, people act genuinely embarrassed if someone is forced to pass them on the right.

Ultimately, all this angst could be dispensed with by simply introducing a little courtesy into our daily driving. However, being courteous doesn't also give you a pass to be a dumb-ass. For instance, stopping in the middle of the damn road where no stop-sign, traffic light or other traffic maintenance device exists to let someone into the flow of traffic is not courteous, it's being a dumb-ass. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had some standard rules of behavior?

  • When entering a flow of traffic, speed up to the flow, don't make the flow slow down for you. This will make merging so much easier on you AND your fellow drivers.
  • Stay out of the fast lane unless you're passing. Ignore this rule if in a traffic jam.
  • Don't enforce the law as it applies to motorists. You'll only create a bigger problem. Hell, if you feel strongly about it, hang up your damn cell-phone and actually use it for something other than an excuse to endanger other people and call a cop.
  • When two lanes merge into one, take your fucking turn instead of cutting off some poor ol' lady that has irritable bowel syndrome and wants to get to her destination just as much as you.
  • And the biggest rule of all! Don't engage other motorists in argument. The 2nd amendment still applies and you don't know shit about that twitchy fucker in the other car.

So what does any of this have to do with politics? Democratic, political discourse follows a similar paradigm to that governing interaction between strangers. If we are unable to discuss issues without a modicum of courtesy, we end up in a rage. Rage is unhealthy, both for the individual and the Republic. The type of blither that is produced by big media and consumed by the majority of our countrymen does nothing to inform our compatriots, but does everything to inflame our brethren. Similar rules should apply to political debate as they do to driving courteously.

  • When discussing politics, take turns and don't cut off people. Their opinion matters just as much as yours.
  • When merging into a discussion you know nothing about, get up to speed before making statements that are subjective rather than objective.
  • Don't enforce your opinion. This is not to say that you can't argue in an ardent manner, but that the Thought Police should exist only in Orwell's fiction.

So there it is, the relationship between road rage and politics!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't post to your first blog so here's my response.. ( I had to spell
check before I put it up there)...

After I read your posting - I had to leave for lunch with a friend. As I was
driving to meet her, I was going through my holier than thou response I was
planning to write when I returned. Boy is my face red.

I was waiting my turn at a busy intersection, behind one car who was also
turning left...patting myself on the back because I was being so patient
with the guy in front of me, who was taking his sweet time pulling out.

This is where my face gets red - after the X number of times the guy sat on
an opportunity to get out- I hit my breaking point, AND THEN THE HORN. The
moment I heard that loud obnoxious sound come out of little 'ol patient
me....I changed my opinion. It IS the dumb asses out there that cause road
rage... (not me?!!)

As for my husband....It's still his fault.

September 28, 2004 3:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home