I live about a five minute drive away from work. That is five minutes at about 3 o’clock in the morning, when the roads are perfectly clear. I set off for work everyday, between five-to and five-past eight, and usually arrive in work at about 8.10 – 8.15am. I usually arrive at that time.
Yesterday, I arrived in work at 8.50am. Today I arrived in work at 8.33, and pretended not to notice. I don’t know why, but the traffic of late has been far heavier than usual. The reason for my being late yesterday was due to a road being closed in another part of the town due to a serious road traffic accident, and everyone in the town were having to find an alternative route, but this doesn’t explain the other days.
Unfortunately, this accident yesterday, caused a few motorists’ tempers to flare. Being stuck in a traffic jam, when you are against the clock, could be described as ‘stressful’ by quite a few people. I’m not over-keen on it myself, but you can only move along when the car in front can move. Everyone is in the same boat, so the easiest way to handle the situation is to sit back and breath. Relax. Allow things to move in their own time. You’re going to be late anyway, so what is the point in stressing about it? This will only make things worse, and you’ll feel as though the day is ruined by the time you arrive at your destination. Let it go. Be late. It’s fine.
I mentioned in my previous paragraph that you can only move when the car in front can move. The car I was behind yesterday had other ideas. Well, the driver did, anyway, cars don’t think. He (the driver – I’ll call him Fred) was stressed out. Fred was shaking his fists inside the car – I thought at first that he was car-dancing (like I do occasionally to Shakespeare’s Sister), but I soon realised that he meant business. I was trying to send some relaxing vibes to him, to try and calm him down, but this didn’t work. He’d made his mind up to be stressed, and everyone else on the road was going to know about it. He had a captive audience as the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. To make things worse, the car was a hire vehicle, the sticker was on the back bumper, so he wouldn’t have treated it as though it was his own. Fred didn’t respect other people’s property.
The vehicle in front of Fred had moved forward about three or four car lengths, but Fred was sitting where he was. I don’t think he was watching the road, as he was shaking his fists. Fred suddenly realised that he could move, and screeched his way forward at such a speed smoke appeared from the tyres. I tootled forward slowly, and pulled up behind him a second later. Fred’s head was in his hands one minute and banging his steering wheel the next.
We had now approached a junction on a roundabout, and it was obvious that we weren’t going anywhere fast. Fred tried to squeeze into another lane on the roundabout, realised that he couldn’t so manoeuvred back to his original place in the queue. His frustration had now boiled over, and he honked his horn.
Horn honking in traffic jams to me doesn’t really help any situation. Horn honking to me is a way of letting other people know that we are there. We all knew that Fred was there – we could smell his burning rubber. And horn honking didn’t relieve Fred of his frustration. He slammed his car into gear, and sped off onto a road on the left that looked as though it was clear, but this road arced around and re-joined the road we are currently on further along – at the next roundabout, so the traffic would be backing up there too. I felt sorry for the next people who would be subject to Fred’s tantrum.
I know I’m making light of what was possibly a very volatile situation, I don’t know where Fred was going, what was on his mind or anything about him, but he was lucky that he didn’t cause another accident himself by the way he was acting. If he’d just sat back and breathed, he’d have realised that all of his actions were futile. The traffic was moving slowly, so he would have reached his destination eventually. I did, although it was twenty minutes later than I should have.
This morning, I didn’t see Fred in the traffic jam. Either he had set off earlier, or was stuck further back. As long as he wasn’t around me, I was fine.
Unfortunately, there had been another road traffic accident on a different road this afternoon, and this road was closed too. This meant that the roads were congested on my journey home from work today. Before I had heard about this accident, I had made a decision to go a different way home. I managed to sneak through the traffic at yet another roundabout, and every road I took on this route was clear. I was home within ten minutes. I had to travel a little further, but sometimes the most direct route is not the quickest. Staying calm in the heavy traffic allowed me to have the foresight to plan my alternative journey.
I’m going to remember this lesson in future. I usually feel flustered at red traffic lights. They have been a bane to my existence ever since I learned to drive back in 1180. If I simply sit back and watch the world wait with me, I’ll be moving again in no time. If I sit and honk and wave and shout, I’ll find more time to do that, and won’t move anywhere fast.
That’s how the Universe works. We get what we are paying attention to the most. The pleasant journey… or the frustrating one? I know which one I want to be on.