I love driving my car – it gives me this feeling of freedom and peace. Once I enter the car, it is only me. I can listen to whatever I want, I have time for my thoughts and I can even sing if I feel like it without disturbing anyone with my lack of talent. When I lived in Germany, I drove to Austria almost weekly – four hours of “me-time” was was exactly what I was looking forward to after a long work week. Not even traffic jams could take it away from me.
I am totally calm in the car. Except for those “rare” moments when something annoys me. If somebody is driving like an a*****e or getting aggressive, I tend to shout back. Of course, nobody can hear me (except if you happen to sit in my passenger’s seat). I yell (usually in Austrian dialect) and complain. Yes, I do suffer from road rage and a friend of mine once said that the moment I enter my car, “the beast is coming out”. But do not worry, it is not as bad as they made it sound. Most of the time, I am pleasant to drive with. And I always keep my complaints to myself and my car. Traffic in Asia has taught me a lot about patience. I was once stuck for over two hours in the taxi in Beijing for a distance which usually took me 20 minutes. While I saw all the guys around me yell at the drivers or show their displeasure by participating in the honking concert, I just waited. I could not change the situation anyways.
Which brings me to the next point: road rage of other people, especially Austrian drivers. Traffic in our capital Vienna is bad according to the majority of Austrians. When I compare it to most traffic jams I have experienced in Asia, I have to smile. A ten-minute-delay is announced on the radio and it is called a “traffic jam”. And even though traffic jams are a relatively minor thing, I see that many Viennese are very impatient and their road rage is even worse than mine. It seems that even a ten-minute-delay makes them lose their patience. When I think about how people drive in Bangkok and how chaotic and difficult it can be to make a simple turn, Vienna is a blissful experience.
I heard from friends that they had incidents with other drivers doing more than just yelling out of their car or showing them the finger. Some people jumped out of their cars at a traffic light and banged against the windows. One person was even chased for quite some time, because the guy behind them thought they had done something to intentionally upset them. (We never found out what it was.) And another person was riding a bicycle and almost hit by a car while the driver yelled at them. As luck would have it, they both had the same destination and when the driver got out of their car, the person on the bike confronted them about the situation. Suddenly the driver turned apologetic – and also a bit embarrassed. They clearly had not expected to ever see that person on the bike again, or at least outside of the car-bicycle context. I found these stories very interesting given that Austrians are not the most outgoing people. Unlike the Italians who openly show they displeasure and who are famous for their gestures, Austrians are more reserved – unless, they enter a car, obviously.
I sometimes wonder what it would look like if these drivers behaved the same way outside of their cars. Imagine you walked into a supermarket and accidentally blocked the way for another customer with your trolley. Would they just kick your trolley away? Or would they approach you and call you names? Every time, I have an irritated and impatient driver near me, I imagine their reaction outside of the car. And most of the time, it makes me laugh so much that the other driver gets even more irritated.
And, because I should practice what I preach, I am working really hard on my own road rage as well. If somebody annoys me, I tell myself that I do not know their story – maybe they really are in hurry, they have a bad day or they are going through a difficult time. (I have stopped driving really slow in front of them to annoy them even more; as you can see, I am improving.) I focus on the fact that this short period of time in the car is my well-deserved “me-time” (given the environmental impact and current gas prices, I do not dare and call it my “car spa”) and enjoy the ride.
Do you enjoy driving the car as well? And do you suffer from road rage? Let me know, I look forward to discussing this topic with you.
Have a great week ahead!