I am a road rage sufferer. I could even go as far as to say that, whilst behind the wheel of a car, I am an entirely different person. Just like Homer Simpson thought Marge was once replaced by the gambling monster Gamblor, I feel I too am replaced by a rage filled monster each time I sit behind the wheel of a car; I just don’t have a cool, monster like, name for mine.
I often use various tactics to express my rage, depending on how angry I get. I have been known to resort to using one of more of the following: displaying my middle finger, shouting verbal abuse, flashing my headlights, and honking my horn. The first two tactics are kind of childlike and remind me of being back at school. And the problem with resorting to my car’s horn is that it’s a wimpy one. You know what I mean, it’s one of those horns that just make you laugh. Here I am trying to express my utter rage at someone’s lack of driving skills, and instead it sounds like I am trying to be funny.
I tried some calming music too; Lior to be precise. At first it worked a little, but soon it didn’t make a difference, at all. After a while I even started to associate road rage with Lior. Now whenever I put Lior on at home I feel road rage too, and I’m not even in the car.
One thing I decided to do was to avoid the car and catch more buses, but I’ve found that there’s even road rage on buses. For example, there’s this intersection at South Bank in Brisbane where the bus tunnel meets the normal road. Buses get pretty high priority, even over pedestrians, so often naughty impatient pedestrians cross on the red man. So what do buses do? They speed up. Often times they honk their horns too, and buses don’t have wimpy horns either. I am often riding up front of the bus and as soon as I see these pedestrians I immediately start to feel it, the road rage monster emerges. The loud horn of the bus is strangely therapeutic though. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels it either, I look around and often see similar facial expressions to mine.
My road rage is evident in different towns across Australia too. Canberra was hard. The roads there just aren’t designed to invoke road rage; but I still managed to find it. I just decreased my tolerance threshold to compensate. Even the slightest display of bad driving would set me off. Especially if the offending driver’s car had diplomatic number plates. This often wasn’t the case though, which lead me to think that road rage must be an Australian thing.
So I decided to see if I road rage is prevalent overseas, Bangkok to be precise. I chose BKK as it a) has some of the worst traffic in the world, and b) has lots of Buddhists who frequently pratice meditation, which should theoretically help with road rage. We decided to catch a cab from one side of BKK to the other, in peak hour traffic, and see if the driver displayed any road rage symptoms. The traffic was bad, and I mean bad. Worse than I’ve ever seen in Australia; they have lots of motorbikes and tuk-tuks who love to weave in and out and generally cut others off. During our hour long journey, that would have taken five minutes in Canberra, our driver was cut off countless times by others. And the thing was, not once did he seem annoyed. He didn’t yell or shout. He didn’t even use his horn! Man was I impressed, it was some of the worst traffic and driving I’d ever seen. If this guy could control himself then surely I could.
As soon as we got out of the cab I told Kitty about how amazed I was: ‘Did you see how many people cut him off and he wasn’t even pissed off!’. ‘You’re kidding’ she replied, ‘He was flashing his headlights the entire time!’ I couldn’t believe it but I was sitting behind the driver, so whilst I couldn’t hear him getting pissed off or using the horn, my wife, sitting next to me, saw him flashing his headlights the entire journey, one of the more discrete ways of displaying road rage.
So I realised it’s not just an Australian thing then. At least now I know it’s not only me.