I have a car commute to work and back; about 25 minutes to get there and 35 minutes to get back in the afternoon, give or take fifteen minutes of local hijinkery on the home side. Like all semi-regular commuters, I know the ins and outs; when to get in the left lane to avoid having to merge at the last minute, when to get into the right to avoid those pesky left-hand-turners who hold up traffic. (Is there anything better than knowing a route so well you can navigate it like you’re playing a video game, shaving two whole minutes off your travel time? THERE IS SOMETIMES NOTHING BETTER THAN THIS.)
I go against rush hour traffic, which, next to the benefits and pay, is the best thing about my job. It puts a solid check in the PLUS column when you are always seeing people lined up, not moving, going the other way, and you’re doing 100 km in a 60 zone*. It’s a pathetic sort of winning, but it’s winning.
*It totally does not need to be a 60 zone.
Last Friday I was driving along, in the left lane because it was left-lane-time, a number of cars around me. Suddenly, a Jetta in the right lane went sweeervvve into my lane, in front of me. Not just a “whoops forgot to signal” move but a “I don’t even see other drivers because I am THE BEST!” move. I nearly hit it. I made a face at that Jetta and said,”You are VERY LUCKY I did not hit you.” I scolded it with my face.
At the next light, the guy driving the Jetta looked in his sideview mirror at me. He was kind of smirking or maybe smiling in an apologetic way. Hard to tell. I decided I would not give him the pleasure of my anger.
So, instead of following too close, glaring at him, and wishing him ill, I gave him lots of space and smiled.
I’ve been practising doing this, smiling at people when I want to kill them.
And not the sharky, I-will-eat-you smile, either. A real smile.
It works. Or, it worked in this situation. Maybe because it was Friday and I am very relaxed about work now that I don’t have to care any more, or because the sun was out and my parents had the kids so I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it worked because I was in a good space, or maybe it worked because I gave myself the space and then put myself in it, refusing to get into that guy’s space and be manipulated by his bad behaviour.
I stayed in my own lane.
Eventually he was gone, and I went back to my sweating and singing along to the radio.
This may seem obvious to some of you, but it is a reminder — much needed, repeatedly — that not everyone thinks the way I do, that I can only control my own reactions and behaviour, that I am only responsible for getting me from point a) to point b), and that I can do that by staying. in. my. mother.effing.lane.
Don’t swerve around and get up in peoples’ grills. Don’t shake your fist at them at the stoplight. Don’t waste time wondering why they are doing that cockamamie thing, because it’s none of your business. It works for the road, the Internet, conversations with strangers and acquaintances. It works for swimming laps! Stay in your lane.
Next to “I may not be a great CMA* but I’m a kickass human being,” “Stay in your lane” may be the best simple motto I’ve come up with in 2014.
Months to go yet, though. Months to go.
*that’s my job title
HOW IS SUMMER WRITING CLUB GOING?
Here, in my lane, I am sticking to my fifteen minutes a day, which I’d been doing after dinner anyway so the kids being all up in my face, all over this place all day doesn’t change my schedule any. I would like to add a bit more time during the day and it seems likely that we will implement Summer Quiet Time (no stickers. Just do it.) in the afternoons. The children can and will read quietly and independently and I think fifteen minutes is not too much to ask.
Those of you who requested stickers, your stickers are in the mail.