Of all of my driving pet peeves, the crime against humanity at the top of my list is people who don’t pull out into the intersection while they wait to turn left.
Here’s how it should go. You approach an intersection with a green light. You would like to make a left turn to go home for lunch (and you may be somewhat hangry*). But there is traffic in the oncoming lane. So you pull straight out into the intersection to wait for a break in the traffic. When the traffic clears, you proceed with your turn. If the traffic clears enough, the person waiting behind you to turn left gets to go too. If the traffic does not clear and the light turns red, since you are already out in the intersection you wait for the oncoming traffic to stop and then proceed quickly with your turn. The person behind you may turn close on your heels or wait for the next green, depending on their position and guts.
See how easy that is? What you do NOT do is stop BEHIND THE CROSSWALK to wait for a break in traffic and then timidly take FOREVER to make your TURN. (Yes, I'm yelling.) Because if you WAIT BEHIND THE CROSSWALK and the break in traffic never comes and the light turns red, you AND your left-turn-buddy behind you are STUCK THERE for another WHOLE TRAFFIC CYCLE. There is a sub-set of jerks who wait behind the crosswalk through an entire green light and then when the light turns red, floor it and dart out into the intersection to on the red light. I’m pretty sure my system is legal, and I’m positive that one is not.
So I was sitting behind one of those morons who waited behind the line and then darted out when the light turned red last week and when I finished yelling I started thinking about anger. Sometimes I’m driving along, singing with a Christian song on the radio, and it goes something like this: “If we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren’t His hands healing, WHAT?! WHY ARE YOU STOPPING?? WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU, MOVE MOVE MOOOVE!!!!”**
How can I be so serene one minute and so infuriated the next? I started thinking about all the things that make me angry and the things I’ve noticed make other people angry and there’s a question that applies to almost every situation: How can you be so stupid? Really, how do you sit behind the line at an intersection and then dart out on a red light? How can you be sick for three weeks and then demand a medical appointment right this minute? Why would you buy that kind of toilet paper when you know I like Cottonelle? How can you possibly vote that way? How can you not see this problem? HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID?
I wouldn’t dart out at a red light. I am smart enough to know I’m not the only sick person needing an appointment. I’m bright enough to know my family’s favorite toilet paper. I vote in the best interests of my fellow humans. Why aren’t you more like me?
I’m sure the woman at the gas station drive-up window wondered how I could be so stupid when I zoomed past the sign that read “Stop and order here” and went straight to the pickup window. But she was nicer than I am—she just said “You know you can order back there, hon.” (Oops.)
And that’s the problem. While I’m wondering how other people can be so stupid and why they can’t just drive like they should—like me, obviously—they’re wondering why I’m so stupid and can’t be more like them.
Maybe you don’t get angry. Maybe you get frustrated, or exasperated, or upset. And maybe you don’t think other people are stupid, maybe you think they’re lazy or clueless or selfish. And of course you’re upset when someone gets into the 10-items-or-less line ahead of you with a cart full of groceries. Or when that dear friend you thought you knew puts a sign in his yard supporting a politician everyone knows is crooked (except your clueless idiot of a friend). You’re entitled to feel ang—um, frustrated—at that person. The problem is them, not you! Right? You’re just trying to be normal and reasonable!
Short-term, it feels good to be angry. I’ll admit it. It’s an adrenaline jolt and it makes me feel morally superior. When I catch that guy letting his dog use my front yard for a toilet I fantasize about visiting his house during the night with a load of deposits from our back yard. (We have two dogs, and they’re bigger than his.) He deserves it.
But long-term, anger is draining. It wears me out to be angry. Have you spent any significant amount of time around a chronically angry person? It’s exhausting. And it’s no cuter on you than it is on them. After awhile it’s like bagging up the waste from my back yard and then instead of dumping it at the neighbor’s house (which I am not suggesting), I just lug it around. All the time. It stinks, it’s heavy, and I’m pretty sure it makes me kind of repulsive to the people around me.
I would like people who think I’m stupid to cut me some slack and not expect me to be like them, because I’m not and I can’t be. I’m doing the best I can with what I've got. And in order to lay that sack of crap down, I guess I have to do the same for them.
What makes you angry?
*Hungry + angry
**The first part is If We Are the Body, by Casting Crowns. The second part is all me.