What a day! The sun is shining, the birds are finally out, a warm breeze is circulating through my car’s open windows, and a polished SUV is inches away from giving my bumper a new paint job. Yep, it’s starting out to be a perfect- WAIT! What?
I check my rearview mirror again (as if the crescendo of horn honking wasn’t enough proof). Yep, there he is. Slim sporty sunglasses, a slight ‘V’ of receding hairline (spiked to perfection), some kind of ‘fancy-pants’ golf shirt, and a phone attached to his ear.
I sigh and review the possible reasons for this intrusion on my wonderful day. We’re in a single lane construction zone (big surprise), so it’s not like I can pull over and let him by. I check my speedometer. The speed is 45 and I’m shamelessly plowing through at almost 58. Another honk reminds me it’s not fast enough.
At this point I’m contemplating various options. Tap my brakes and see if he really is that interested in kissing my *ahem* bumper. Perhaps he’s trying to tell me 58 is too fast for this zone? What a nice guy, I should slow down to 30. Or maybe I finally give in and buy myself a tacky gas station bumper sticker for such an occasion; Keep Honking, I’m Reloading.
Instead I vouch for peace. I raise my hand and wave in a gentle ‘yeah-I-see-you-but-incase-you-didn’t-notice-I-can’t-do-anything-about-it-sorry’ sort of way. He stops honking. Thank heavens.
We finally get to a split in the road. Ready to forgive and forget, I turn to him and smile as he passes. He gives me the finger.
It’s in that moment that two things hit me.
The first is a number’s game. That’s the fourth person to aggressively flip me off since I moved here back in January. I was living in Denver for over three years and only ever remember receiving the finger once and I deserved that one (don’t text and drive kids). In fact, I’ve had extensive driving experience in several key places across the states, and when it comes to unnecessary aggression, Utah is one of the worst.
So, where is all this road rage coming from? My only explanation comes down to this simple but frightening past time, church ball.
Oh yes, only in Utah does MMA Fighting stand for Mad Mormon Athletes (and their parents) Fighting. My own experience with the sport and those who praise it left me severely scarred. I would rather face the Spanish Inquisition then again explain in priesthood why I missed that shot.
I’m afraid the Utah culture and its pursuit to create the world’s largest ‘bubble’, has left us so tightly wound that we have to find an outlet or risk implosion. Well, you can’t (shouldn’t) let it all out at home. Work is a definite no-no (need that pay check for tithing). The death and destruction in video games would be good if our kids weren’t already on slaughtering zombies (with disturbing accuracy I might add). So where do we strike?
The cultural hall and freeway of course.
Church ball’s good because you can get away with a lot. I mean come on, Brother Barry from Elders Quorum is the ref. The guy still shows up to church with a snap on tie. Then after its over, we say closing prayer and ask God to forgive that left elbow we threw Brother Stout. Amen.
But the asphalt…that’s even better! On the freeway all responsibilities seem to go out the window, because no one knows you. Your a license plate number no one takes time to read. As long as the cops aren’t around (thank you radar detector) you can go as fast as you want, put a Daytona driver to shame with your passing, and still have a moment to tell your competition how you feel with a single gesture.
And still no one knows you.
I believe this is exactly why at the end of every General Conference we’re told to ‘obey all traffic laws’ and ‘treat other drivers with respect’. What they’re really saying is, “We didn’t just spend eight hours teaching you how to be a better person so you could go out and blow it all on the freeway!”
To this day I have yet to be cut off or gestured at by a General Authority. That must be saying something.
So what do we do with all these people determined to bring fear and chaos to our roads with their aggression? We could fight fire with fire. Perhaps follow them and key into the side of their car What Would Jesus Do. Or we could just do what I did when the second of the two things hit me…
I’ll just talk to him at my Elder’s Quorum class this Sunday. Have a good day Brother _!