Jessica Ariel (liret) wrote,
Jessica Ariel

lj idol, open topic

I like to think of myself as a kind person. Considerate. Caring. Filled with goodwill towards kindred human beings.

All that stops the instant I get behind the wheel of a car.

Somehow, as soon traffic starts to clog, those other drivers stop being potential friends, admirable individuals, or fellow travelers on this road of life. No, when I see them through my windshield, they're bitter rivals, if not outright enemies. Every single car between me and my destination is keeping me from where I need to be. Each one has the power to carelessly ruin my day.

Which is, when I think of it, incredibly selfish of them. How dare they do this to me? By the time traffic outright stops, it isn't just drivers that are the targets of my righteous indignation. The radio station announcer that failed to warn me. The department of transportation that didn't do a better job planning their roads. Stupid Henry T. Ford and his stupid assembly line - did he even stop to think about the long term consequences of enabling an automobile focused society? And what's wrong with society, anyway, that we allow things like this to happen? We let ourselves lose hours, days, years of our lives, wasted in these metal cages, when we aren't even going anywhere. And we act like it's normal! What kind of monsters are we?

By the time I get to an exit, my misanthropy has usually reached a new all-time high. I find new reasons to hate everyone before I reach the train station - my level of personal offense at those people who stopped in the middle of the road to pick someone up, or that guy who double parked, couldn't be any higher if they'd put up flashing signs explaining that they were inconveniencing me on purpose.

Later, when I take the subway to class, I regret my anger, my uncharitable thoughts. I promise that next time I'll stay calm. I say I'll try the yoga breathing or the stress ball or the soothing music. But I know that the truth is, it's just harder when I'm driving. Liking people outside of a car is much easier - probably because, outside a car, I can actually see them. I can see that the woman next to me is trying to manage three bags of groceries, and the man across from me is reading a book to his toddler. I can see the obviously-lost foreign tourists argue over a map while nervously watching that group of teenagers, and I can see one of the teenagers go over and give them directions in their own language.

And if we stop between stations, and there's an announcement that the train is 'currently experiencing slight delays,' I can see everyone groan, roll their eyes, and go back to what they're doing. No one gets worked up about it. What would the point be? We're all in the same boat - or at least the same subway car.

Not rivals. Not enemies. Just people.
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