I scare the beetlejuice out of my wife when she rides in the passenger seat. I follow too closely. I switch lanes too quickly. I mutter expletives about other drivers and their mothers–sometimes about what they should do to themselves. I hurry inattentive or weaving drivers with a scooting gesture of my hand: come on, giddy up!
I have a plan. I want to get from A to B quickly and without wasting time. I understand the light sequences, when to shift from the center lane to the left lane, and how to pick which drivers will be quick off the light or way too slow. I brush the edges of the speed limit and always assume other drivers are not as competent as I.
I feel my blood pressure rise when someone in front of me is driving the speed limit instead of at least five over. Or worse, when both lanes are blocked and I can’t pass. I struggle keeping my hands off the horn when the driver in front of me is finishing his string of emoji instead of accelerating the moment the light turns green–preferably a little early. I reach levels of hysterical apoplexy when I have to stop in the middle of moving traffic while the driver in front of me executes a slow-motion three point turn with a foot heavy on the brake!
I have a plan, and I’m not putting on eyeliner or adjusting my tie. I’m not talking to my boyfriends about baking recipes or the shoes I’ll wear bowling. I’m definitely not texting or operating my car under the influence of Schnapps or other medications designed primarily to slow my responses. I have a plan. I’m driving from point A to point B. Speed up or get out of my way!
And yet, I can think of fourteen reasons why my life would be better if I would drive happy:
1. I’d be less likely to get into an accident and incur the exorbitant fees involved with replacing someone else’s fender, meeting their medical expenses, and covering the cost of my insurance increase.
2. I’d see far fewer middle fingers wagged in my direction.
3. My car’s interior would not reek of spilled coffee nor display the fabulous Rorschach designs of splattered bagels-and-cream cheese hurled against the dash in a frenzied stop.
4. I’d not have to feel guilty each time I race past a nice 90-year-old citizen on the way to Walgreens who can barely see over the steering wheel.
5. I could postpone my brake replacement and realignment by about 10,000 miles.
6. I’d realize the difference in time between A to B is measured in minutes and not hours, and that whatever I’m racing toward isn’t all that great anyway. Do I really need to be to work early?
7. I could truly enjoy fascinating bumper stickers and license plates like WRG8 and COEXIST written in religious symbols.
8. I’d hit a lot fewer potholes!
9. I wouldn’t be the jerk the guy behind me is imitating with spastic gesticulations and laughter.
10. I would realize, in a moment of Zen panic, that I arrive at my destination at about the same time whether or not I triple my cardiac load and risk a transient ischemic attack or not.
11. I wouldn’t be ashamed of modeling whiny and inappropriate behavior my children—who will be driving soon themselves—will adopt.
12. I wouldn’t have to talk to that nice policeman and explain why I was in such a hurry and obviously didn’t have time to read the construction signs warning me I needed to slow down.
13. I wouldn’t arrive at my destination with cramps in my forearms, neck, and calves.
14. My wife might actually want to go places with me.