This morning I was pulling into a gas station pump when I witnessed an occurrence that was disturbing after I thought about it. The gas station was crowded, with every row filled with a customer. The station also had parking spots facing the convenience store. A woman, driving this huge Suburban (let’s call her (“Suburban Driver”) with kids in the back seat, was backing out of one of the convenience store spots got very close to hitting the minivan at the pump next to me. The driver of the miniwan,(we’ll call her “Minivan Lady”) honked her horn as she was afraid the Suburban will surely hit her car. It got close, but nothing was hit. I expected Suburban Driver to just shrug and keep going, but instead, she got very furious that she got honked at. Her face contorted into an angry mask, and instead of just driving away, she actually got out of her Suburban and started yelling and gesticulating that Minivan Lady should relax. “CALM DOWN I WAS NOT ABOUT TO HIT YOU – YOU f—*** b–*** !!!,” which seemed really ironic given she was the one losing her temper. Suburban Driver got really aggressive and went up to the window of Minivan Lady who just locked her doors and looked aghast. Suburban Driver finally went back to her car and sped off, driving aggressively. Minivan Lady was quite shaken.
After witnessing this encounter, I was perturbed that someone would get so aggressive and exhibit violence over something as trivial as getting honked at, and in front of kids. I really shouldn’t be shocked–we’ve heard of fights breaking out over parking spots and people coming to blows at Christmas sales. But actually seeing how people react and get ugly made it more glaring. Who can say what frame of mind she had to begin with? She may have been stressed but that is no excuse. If someone could potentially get violent over a trivial incident, can you imagine how people would react when there is a disaster?
Last week I wrote about obstacles that could keep you from getting home in an emergency. Witnessing the incident this morning, I realized road rage can become an obstacle when:
- People are stuck in unending traffic jams and unable to get home
- Store shelves become empty and people can’t get food and water for their families
- Depressed or mentally ill patients will no longer have access to mood altering medication
- Jobs become scarce and livelihoods are threatened
- Homes are foreclosed or lost
What can you do?
- Realize and accept that people will not be acting at their best
- If you are the one starting to feel stressed and agitated, take a step back and take a deep breath. The cliche about counting to 10 works.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and empathize with what they may be going through.
- If you are the target, do not let the matter escalate – you always have a choice to walk away. Pride and “being in the right” won’t matter much to your family if you get hurt or killed.
- Pray for patience and strength to overcome any difficulties.
- Be prepared.
Even in everyday situations, being prepared can help you could avoid many irritants and inconveniences:
- Leaving early instead of late will avoid the stress of being rushed.
- Saving money for a rainy day helps you deal with unexpected financial emergencies
- Preparing your kids’ clean clothes, lunches, paperwork the night before avoids the morning rush
- Keeping at least a quarter to half a tank of gas at all times avoids having to stop at a gas station when it’s inconvenient.
- Getting out of debt means less worries.
- Having food stored at home means not having to run to the store.
Being prepared goes a long way toward giving you peace of mind, whether a disaster happens or not.