There are times I should not be behind the wheel.
I am not talking about driving drunk or high. Or texting while driving.
I am talking about driving while triggered.
Some call it Road Rage. I think that is deceiving. It conjures up extreme versions of what I am talking about and makes it easy to disassociate with the images it brings up (think: The Hulk.) I am talking about driving under the influence of your emotions.
I would posit that there are at least fifty shades of grey to the emotions that can be set off while driving. And that driving while unconsciously in the throes of them is just as dangerous as being on a drug or a drink.
It is far too easy to feel slighted by some entitled asshole who cuts you off or pulls in front of you, or zooms in to take your space in the parking lot. Or someone gets cute and slices ahead of you from what is really not a lane but the side of the road. Thanks buddy. Yeah you deserve to beat us poor suckers who were following the rules.
When these kinds of thing happen, I have a rush of fear that quickly becomes anger. And sometimes, if I do not intercede in time, that anger drives me to become aggressive back. As in start driving like a nimrod.
Suddenly, my ride home becomes a primal fight for survival. My body goes into fight or flight mode.
I catch myself. My blood pressure has spiked and my jaw is clenched as I squeeze the handle of the wheel like I am squeezing the life out of the other driver who has either threatened my safety or “taken” what I perceive as mine.
I breathe deeply, and slowly breathe out again, making a conscious choice to let it go. To figuratively get back into my lane. Get out of the kill or be killed Thunderdome lane.
It is serious. I bring myself back from the edge.
I don’t recall them addressing this in drivers ed. I think it should be. A chapter on “Practicing Emotional Intelligence While Driving” could go a long way in preventing accidents. I know I am not the only one who gets triggered out there.
I am glad I know it and can choose to let it go. It’s as simple as changing lanes.