Now that I am “retired”, I don’t usually have to drive during rush hour and so I have forgotten how bad it is! But, last spring I was driving to West Seattle twice a day for about 6 weeks during the commute times and I got reacquainted with how bad the traffic is! I noticed that drivers have gotten very rude! They won’t let you merge into traffic, they honk and make rude gestures at any perceived provocation, and it really can be upsetting that you are being treated like this! It is easy for people in cars to forget that you are a real person.Usually, it’s the non-aggressive drivers who really piss off the aggressive drivers. They are annoyed that you are an inferior driver, you don’t know how to drive, or you are an idiot! If you wait to merge, you get honked at for being in their way, if you try to slowly get into the next lane the driver will speed up and block you, and then they scowl at you for trying to get ahead of them!! Drivers try to teach you a lesson or make you pay for a mistake you made by getting in their way. Everyone is isolated in their cars and they forget who they are and they don't care who you are. They seem to become more aggressive and angry when they get behind the wheel. They feel anonymous in the safety of their car, free to be rude and mean.
I was on my way home from a hike to Summit Lake last fall and I was going down the road which is very bumpy if you’ve never been there. A car was coming towards me, so I slowed down and moved over! Now, usually hikers are really nice people, so I smiled and waved as I passed and the “gentleman” in the driver’s seat yelled out his window to me, “Slow down you idiot!” What? But I slowed down, I moved over, and I was smiling and waving at him, and still he made me feel horrible! I decided he was just a jerk who was taking his bad attitude in life out on me! I laughed that I almost felt bad, and kept going down the road. Believe me, you can NOT go fast on that road!
I remember getting annoyed at a driver who was driving really slowly and when I finally passed them, I saw that the driver was an elderly woman. I thought of my grandmothers and I wondered if this lady really does not like to drive, but sometimes she has to get to appointments. People probably honk at her and flip her off because I know they do that to me! Can you imagine how you’d feel if a driver acted like that to your grandmother or mom? I started feeling a little protective of and concerned for this elderly driver, and angry at other drivers who were rude to her.It really is about realizing that we all are people doing the best we can, why do we have to be so rude? I think about the person who is so angry that I merged in front of them so they passed me with their angry faces and flip me off and mouth words like F*** you! I wonder if their whole day is ruined by this heinous act of merging! Does it really make you so much later for where ever you are going to slow down long enough for me to merge? I have to admit that when people pass me fast, when I catch up with them at the light, I smile a bit and think, “Well, that did you a lot of good didn’t it?”
Now that I think about it, social media is the same in some ways. People are free to be rude to other people because they have the anonymity of being online, so they say things they normally would not say to people when they are face to face. Someone made some comments about who I am based on their opinion of politics, and I felt like if they had to say it to my face, or if they really knew me, they would be more civil. Maybe not, but I really believe that being in a car, or being online, lets people feel free to behave badly. You are not a person to them so they have no empathy for you.
I really don’t like this aspect of life so I choose NOT to behave this way. Please people, be nice! There's no reason to be rude! And if my mom is out there driving, YOU better not flip her off, or someone out there will do that to YOUR mom!