In these times of lockdowns and the pandemic, irritability has quite become the ZeitGeist of our current era. So many people say they are managing the situation absolutely well, but I really would want to pause a while and ask myself, “Am I really as fine as I pretend to be?”
Why I say this is because a lot of our frustration with our situations is quite transparently expressed when we drive. Let’s face it, we live in a fast- paced world, constantly dealing with restrictions and concerns does add to our situation management blues. It’s easy and human to get wrapped up in our own to-do lists and thoughts making us oblivious of those around us. Even unintentional rudeness adds to stress and creates tension. A little kindness like letting the other driver merge into your lane and civility saying ‘thank you’ with a quick wave, do make a difference. Your polite actions will be an example and a reminder for others. We are all inclined to be nice when someone was just nice to you. That’s the principle of reciprocity. Courtesy and safety go quite hand-in-hand amidst the ‘rules of the road’. Developing patience and practising defensive driving will make you a safer and more courteous driver.
Rules to follow
Individual drivers have their pet peeves, but some inconsiderate behaviour by either aggressive or clueless drivers can aggravate even patient drivers. Traffic lights are to be obeyed, not outfoxed. So, don’t try to race through a yellow light. There’s no question that when drivers display a ‘me first’ attitude, it annoys or even angers other drivers. Daydreaming at a stoplight after it turns green could be the most favourite of the annoyances we are all guilty of scorning at. And to add to my consternation the car to my left turns right cutting across my car. The other day I was driving at an allowable speed to work. All was well. I had started from home on time and even the traffic was quite relenting and kind till I was slowed down unnecessarily by a car creeping ahead of me with the driver smoking a cigarette while talking on a cell phone. Now, such relaxed drives on a Monday morning might be an unaffordable luxury to some or most of us like me. Please understand that a communal activity like driving needs to be paced to accommodate the time and urgent paces of the others too. Blocking the box just because you want to enjoy the morning breeze, might not be in agreement with the others.
Don’t take it personally
No matter how badly your day has gone, how many traffic jams you’ve suffered and how many cars have almost clipped yours as they abruptly changed lanes, keep reminding yourself not to take traffic jams personally. When you start taking frustration out by using your horn it’s a sign you’ve crossed the line. To cure horn-itis, make a conscious effort to exercise a little patience. Remember everyone has a self-acquired right to aggression and impatience during the pandemic.
(Chaudhary is a Chandigarh-based image and style consultant)