I was having a conversation with my family about driving and we were talking about how crazy people are on the freeways. Not just excessive speeding, but downright aggressiveness. I admit that I don’t always obey the speed limit signs, but I keep up with the general flow of traffic and make sure to not be one of the fastest drivers. Typically, that puts me in the left lane on the freeway. I always felt rather comfortable in that lane and usually didn’t feel like I was being pushed along by people behind me, nor did I feel like I was in front of everyone either. But I sure got annoyed when someone slow was in front of me! Not the best attitude to have, but I’m being honest with myself and with you. (Full disclosure: I still have those frustrated moments from time to time. Hey, I’m only human, but I sure try!) My daughter and husband are, unfortunately, witnesses to my annoyance when people were “in my way,” though I would never tailgate or make rude gestures.
I’ve been driving this way for years, and I acknowledge it can be stressful to drive with this mindset. But did I change? No. However, freeway construction on my side of town recently lowered the speed limit by a mere 10 mph and my attitude has started to shift. Slower speed limits in construction areas are a good idea, right? It’s hard to argue against this. There are legitimate reasons why speed limits exist, and it’s not because “they” want to make it longer to get places. It makes sense to slow people down when roads are bumpy, when there are no shoulders and when construction workers and equipment are present. So, whether it’s because I’m getting older or just making better decisions, I have been driving more slowly everywhere, not just in this construction zone. Apparently to some, speed limits are just a mild suggestion you can take or ignore. But TRY to drive the posted speed limit (or even 10 over) and people literally are ready to run you over to get where they are going, and they are staring you down while doing it. I often hear my father’s voice in my head as I think, “This isn’t a racetrack!” By the way, sounding like your parents is a scary moment that comes with getting older, but I digress. Remember that lane I like to drive in? No more! Something in me shifted and I stick to the middle. Not too slow, not too fast. I can only assume that I have become one of those people who seem to have been put in front of others with no other intent but to slow them down. With this realization, I started to wonder, “Am I old?”
Allow me to be stereotypical here for a moment, but the older population has a reputation (whether true or not) for driving slowly. This thought made me wonder whether I am migrating into this category despite being in my early 40’s. But then a recent “Road Rage….INCREASING DRAMATICALLY!” post on the neighborhood website brought the subject front and center. Hundreds of comments about this topic within a few minutes proved that I’m not the only one noticing the crazy driving. There were a lot of reasons debated: no speed cameras, drivers being selfish, the list goes on and on, and age was not one of the reasons discussed. But one comment really stood out to me. The person said, “You can’t change others, but you can change yourself.” It is true in so many ways, and not just on the roadways. We may not be able to control how fast others drive, but we can control how we let it makes us feel and how we react. Move over. Let the others pass you. Don’t feel pushed along. Be alert. Be forgiving. Be safe. Think about that in your daily lives. You can’t control others and how they treat you, but you can control how you react. In fact, you can choose NOT to react but to take in the experience, think about it, and learn from it. Wow, does that make me sound old? If so, I’m OK with that.