Last Sunday, I found myself confronted by a long line at the oil-change place in front of Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield. But my car was overdue for an oil change, so I decided to join the wait.
(I know what you’re thinking: A 53-year-old man ought to be able to change the oil in his car. And you’re right, he should. But by taking my car and other Bolejack family cars to the oil-change place, I am helping to provide jobs in a still-recovering economy. I consider that both selfless and patriotic.)
Any way, after taking my place in line, I rolled down the window and waited.
It was a pleasant day, and the outlet center was busy – so busy that one driver occasionally took offense at something another driver did. I could tell this by the blaring horns.
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I empathized, because over the years, I have worn out my share of car horns. As my wife likes to say, the cars we drive must be invisible given how often other drivers pull out in front of us. The worst are the drivers who pull out in front of you and then drive at a snail’s pace. They are, by definition, worse than the drivers who pull out in front of you, only to turn into a parking lot or driveway a quarter-mile later; at least those drivers are out of the way quickly.
But as much as such drivers annoy me, I no longer blare my horn at them, and I no longer subject them to some colorful language that they couldn’t hear any way. These days, if I react at all, it’s usually with a smile or chuckle that’s my way of saying, “Some things never change.”
I can’t recall when I traded road rage for road resignation, but it’s been at least a couple of years now. More interesting, I can’t really explain why I changed my default reaction to the stupid things that other drivers do.
It wasn’t a conscious thing; at least I can’t recall telling myself one day that I was no longer going to lose my cool when another driver lost his mind.
But it happened, and I’m glad it did. And not because I think I am now morally superior to people who lose their cool at driving offenses. Hey, if flipping off a bad driver floats your boat, more power to you. I’m not judging.
It’s just that the older I get, the less I want to be angry, especially at things I cannot control. I have learned not to tilt at windmills, and my life is less stressful because of that.