Wednesday, January 16, 2013

engaged, not angry

One of the topics that usually get broached in our annual 8-hour HAZWOPER refresher course is vehicle safety. Yes, we work with nasty stuff sometimes, but usually the drive to and from the site is more hazardous than whatever chemicals we may encounter.

Years ago, one of the topics was road rage. Of course, road rage is bad. It's dangerous to everyone around you, raises your own blood pressure dangerously high, and worse, it often doesn't get you where you're going any faster.

The trainer had a list of bad behaviors that indicated you had a road rage problem. Top of the list? Talking to other cars.

That is ridiculous. I talk to other cars all. the. time. Doesn't mean I'm angry or that I'm going to cut them off and cause a horrible chain accident. What I am is engaged with driving. I pay attention. I've lived on tiny urban streets with hipsters and little kids darting in front of me, I've had multiple high-speed rotaries (roundabouts) on my daily commute, and I've driven for hours on dirt roads to get to field sites. I've scolded bike messengers, giant SUV drivers, and a flock of turkeys with about the same amount of heat. I have a particular endearment that I use to address errant drivers/anyone else associated with the road I'm on - "come on, sweetpea!"

I belt out whatever song I'm enjoying while driving. I drive a distinctive car that has an appropriate female name for its country of origin (long family tradition). And I keep up a running commentary on everything that's going on around me, passengers or not. But I'm not angry when I'm driving, other than a brief flash of annoyance at particularly obnoxious behavior. And I pride myself on driving safely and (reasonably) close to the speed limit.

Save your worries about road rage for someone who actually drives agressively.

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