Elle Potter

mildly hilarious, exceptionally fun, and usually barefoot.

(off) Road Rage

I sat down moments ago with my cup of hot tea at a sunny table in the window of a hip cafe here in St. Louis.  I pulled out my laptop, plugged into the opera station on Pandora and started to brainstorm what I wanted to write about.  Not five minutes later, a woman walked past my table and bumped into it so hard that it spilled my tea all over the table.  I pulled my laptop to safety, jumped up with a loud exclamation of nonsensical surprise and realized the tea was narrowly missing pouring itself from the tabletop into my bag on the floor.

That woman did not say one word of apology.  Did not even so much as look back over her shoulder after making solid contact with my table.  Her friend, who was walking behind her, saw it all happen.  He did not say anything to me, either.

I was am still pissed.  Honestly, I half wanted to rush out after her and tell her what she’d done.  How nothing bad had happened, but that I was disgusted by her lack of attention and care.  Instead, I asked the barista for a little help with clean-up on aisle four.  As she kindly helped wipe down my table and replenish my cup of tea with more hot water, I found myself having to consciously restrain from saying nasty things about the culprit to the sweet barista.  Things that involved the words “fat,” “dumb,” and one in particular that rhymes with “pitch.”

As I nestled back into a different chair at a different table, fuming with road rage.  At first, I starting musing about what it must mean to be experiencing road rage without being behind the wheel, but now I’m wondering why being on the road gives us an excuse to be angry.  To call people names.  To feel ignored, taken advantage of, or inconsequential.

How often do we feel wronged or see something happen and immediately start throwing out strings of verbal abuse?  It happened for months during the election this year (“what a d-bag this guy is”).  It happens when someone cuts me off in traffic (“gee, thanks, a-hole”).  It happened when that woman knocked into my table moments ago (“inconsiderate b*tch”).

I see it as a reminder to remain thoughtful and considerate in my day-to-day actions with other people.  But maybe it’s time to start seeing it as a practice of compassion.  The really annoying kind of compassion where you have to be compassionate even though the person you’re practicing compassion towards is a complete and total idiot.  (I clearly have some work to do with this.)

Step one is to cut out that hateful language, at least outwardly to begin with.  Then I can work on step two, which is not calling someone a great string of names on the inside.  I reckon the final step would be to stop seeing these little injustices as intentional attacks on me directly.  Or maybe that’s really step one.  I’ll just have to start trying all three steps at once and see how it goes.

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Posted in Making a Change by Elle on November 27th, 2012 at 7:28 pm.

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