Monday, March 2, 2009

aggressive driving

Monday morning when my sister and I left the house as early as 6am so as to give ourselves ample time before we head off to our usual busy Mondays, not to mention the bulk of work to be done as day starter of the month. We managed to get easily on the familiar super congested national highway as few vehicles had given us the way, and this brought us a slight kick in our endorphins. Must be a very fair day for all us under the gloomy skies and intermittent pours in the peak of the supposed summer season.

The wheels have rolled more than a hundred meters and from a distance, we noticed that the vehicles have started to slow down, till it all came to an idle. I told my sister that traffic won't be that long since we got off earlier than our usual set off. For the first 3mins, we inched little by little, until the clock continued gyrating without us moving any further. The lane opposite to us was free and the idea of counter flow kept buzzing on my mind. But i am good, kind and humble (**blushes** haha! ) and so i immediately dismissed the idea and struggled with the bumper-to-bumper traffic lane.

Minutes have already passed and all the vehicles are still in statics. Most vehicles which had counterflowed had already left us behind, and another few minutes had them clogged the opposite lane. So the next scene was so predictable. Those prodigals now all wanted to thrust their vehicles in our sacred lane.

It's easy to get mad when you forcefully drag your half-awake, half sleeping entity out of bed, prepare in as quick as you could yourself including your packed meals, drove off to work in as early as you could, then get caught longer than you could ever imagine in a grid-lock. My sister had been taming herself off the quibbles of the snarl-ups, while i slowly outstretched for the rosary hanging in the rear-view mirror, then muttered "Lord, it's a beautiful Monday morning, we're earlier than the usual, and the traffic is hell, we'll gonna be late for work, and these counter flowing vehicles are annoying us, so please let not any crude, foul, coarse, smutty, dirty, and profane words slip out of my mouth." Then we both giggled. I reached for the PSP down beside the shift knob, then pressed the right button to play the next song, Grease by Girls Aloud (from the album To Love Somebody: A Bee Gees tribute) then fiddled my fingers in the steering wheel.

I glanced to my left side mirror, and in an instant, i was enraged by a green van, thrusting itself inside our lane, its body almost an inch farther to my side mirror. Getting myself more infuriated, i lowered the window glass and look as if i could crush that green monster wanting to sideswipe my dear sweetie. My sister then uttered, "Beat it, just stay close at the vehicle in front of us, don't let it in. Bumper-to-bumper na to'" Then the van headed straight to its counter flowed lane.

I haven't toned down the anger and i could feel that it has consumed my whole being in a trice. Nor could i manage the pressure that has been building up inside the two of us: TARDINESS. My sister, who has been continuously combing her air-conditioned dried-up, newly-cut crowning glory, told me that she will just ride their shuttle bus tomorrow, so as not to burden herself of the impending same traffic. Right before i could babble a retort to her statement, i found myself again seething with wrath to a red van which had been thrusting itself between the jeepney in front and our vehicle inside our lane.

I honked hard, but it didn't stop its disruption. It continued its deed and it was centimeters away from crashing itself into my vehicle. I honked harder and harder, with my left hand tightly clenched to the steering wheel, my right palm not wanting to be lifted from the horn button. I honked for more than a minute, my face almost inflamed, and this got my sister cringed into her seat. She knew that at some points, if i could be enraged at the slightest provocation, she wouldn't want to know how much blood-boiling and hackle-raising would this plaguing bring. She was getting a grip on my emotions, "Ate, enough. Enough please. Enough. Let it in." She repeatedly pleaded. "I'll just get off at Paseo and commute to LTI, you need not be late for me." I could feel my whole body all consumed by the resentments, with my foot, now heavier on the brake. And the red brute finally made its way in front of us.

Oh, before i forgot, traffic was due to an apparent shoot-out of a vehicle in a street corner perpendicular to the national road, which had the driver dead on the spot, his own blood shedding on the road, while the passing onlookers had caused the queues more longer than it could have been. And yes, even the passing onlookers, motorcycle riders and vehicle drivers taking minute stops to satisfy their curiosity while blocking our lane did not escape my honking.

beeeeeeeeep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

My sister got off at LTI Gate 3 via Greenfields. I wasn't permitted to enter LTI (got no sticker, apparently) so i had her walking almost a hundred meters. While my sister had been lucky enough to reach Toshiba just before their work hour, I arrived at work 17 minutes late, which didn't bother me a lot. I was even more concerned to taming my emotions suited for a week starter.

It amazes me how driving has infused a lot of lessons in me. Real-life lessons that could even be drawn from deciding how heavy should i step on the pedals, how quickly should i turn and how hard should i hold on to the steering. Admittedly, there have been moments when i would allow my resentfulness, impatience and powerlessness to get the better of me, thus disrupting my focus, sound judgment and unleashing my fight-response to anger. People make me angry, i make them angrier; and the rest of those angry feelings resonate to car by car down the road.
I now become one of those thought off as road anger-junkies, who use all their energies for anger and pain-relief.

The difference between skilled drivers and the not-so skilled could also be very well defined by how empowered they are with regards to self-respect. Empowered drivers have much power upon regulating their emotions to ensure that their behavior is always in their best interest, controlling only themselves and not the road. Respect for everyone else on the road is an infusion to their self-respect. Respect begets respect.

I have realized these things upon my everyday encounter and experience as a driver. I have been driving for about half year, and i have discovered there really is a different world behind the roads and wheels. Before, i only see the world in the eye of a commuter, a passenger. Now i can see the world behind the windshield while steering the automobile. Seeing both worlds to an advantage, it also entails a lot of responsibilities.

While i would momentarily submit myself to aggressive driving, (the road controls me, my anger over empowers me), most of the times, i would make positive affirmations that foremost to anything, safety is the most crucial concern. Well, sometimes i do really fail, i am also human, (but i am good, kind and humble **laughs out loud** ) But my being human shouldn't be my passport for my failures. Many of us get in trouble because we are driving under the sane influence of impaired emotions. It is normal to feel frustrated and angry to what was happening on the road, but the choice, on how to deal with this effectively, is basically on the driver's decision to make.

Research by Dr. Leon James at the University of Hawaii reveals five categories of aggressive driving.


THE UNFRIENDLY ZONE - Example: closing ranks to deny someone entering your lane because you’re frustrated or upset.

HOSTILE ZONE - Example: Tailgating to pressure another driver to go faster or get out of the way.

VIOLENT ZONE- Example: Making visible obscene gestures at another driver.

LESS MAYHEM ZONE- Example: Pursuing other cars in a chase because of provocation or insult.

MAJOR MAYHEM ZONE - Example: Getting out of the car and beating or battering someone as a result of a road exchange.

Driving is really emotionally challenging, because it forces us to make decisions on situations which happen unexpectedly. On a personal note, i would affirm starting today, to get rid of those aggressive-driving zones, have fun while driving, and to reach my destination not in the soonest time possible, but in the safest way achievable.