Rush hour traffic…I fucking love it. I love it nearly as much as driving in silly season traffic. And what’s not to love about that? Hot days and balmy nights (here in OZ), sexy young girls wearing string bikinis on the beach, booze flowing freely night after night while you throw another prawn on the ‘Barbie.’
And don’t forget you-know-who. No, I’m not talking about whats-his-name-from Harry Potter. I’m talking about the Grinch who stole Christmas. That fury, fucked up, maniacal Bond villain wannabe.
But I digress…
Having spent God only knows how many hours stuck in rush hour traffic in my former life as an ‘on-road’ sales manager, I know a thing or two about it. In fact you might even say I am a stuck in traffic hour expert. I’ve even coined the phrase Stuck In Traffic Syndrome (SITS). Symptoms may include:
- Paranoia (that clicking noise is a sure sign your car is going to break down at any moment)
- Asthma flare up
I think it’s safe to say many of us experience some, if not all, of those symptoms every time we drive to and from work, on school runs, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so to speak.
External factors such as:
- Flies sticking to your eyes heat
- Biblical sized down pours
- Can’t- see- a –thing- in front- of -you-sun-glare
- Dickheads trying to run you off the road, or cutting you off and…
Your whinging, whining, crazy ass missus annoying the fuck out of you to the point you want to die blissfully in nicotine poisoning, shave your head off with her stupidity (I actually saw someone trying to do this once), or punch someone in the face.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the short and long term side effects of SITS for me included:
- High blood pressure
- Body aches and tension
- Weakened immune system
During the holidays, these symptoms grow bigger than Ben Hur and heavier than hypochondria in a nursing home (I’ll probably get in trouble for saying that, but…).
Here’s 3 ways I stay cool as the Fonz driving in rush hour traffic.
The first, and by far the most important thing to do is get your thinking right. For me, writing the following note and whacking it to the glovebox of my car so I could read it every time I drove helped:
Rather than seeing rush hour traffic as an ‘oh no, here we go again’ moment I do what Fonzie does and stay cool, calm and in control. As far as I’m concerned it’s another way to become a better man by remaining calm in a stressful situation. When I start to get angry or pissed off in rush hour traffic I take a deep breath and tell myself over and over that I am cool, calm and in control. I can handle this.
Make The Most Of Bad Situation
In the past, whenever rush hour traffic came to a stop for lengthy periods, I would either get really angry, or anxious, or have mild panic attacks. Now, I put myself in a meditative state by focusing on the sounds around me, checking in with my how my body’s feeling, and do correct breathing exercises. I then use the ‘downtime’ to catch up on my favorite podcasts or porn.
Laugh Out Loud
To keep things interesting I sometimes record myself having a pretend conversation between me and a co-worker, or act out one of my favorite James Bond scenes– I always have a good laugh every time I play back what I’ve recorded. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine, and I definitely find it helps take my mind off being stuck in silly season traffic and remain in control.
Bonus: the look on some motorists’ faces when they see me re-enacting the opening scene from Diamonds Are Forever is priceless!
I still punch the steering wheel, huff and puff, and curse (under my breath) from time to time when I’m in rush hour traffic, and I’m OK with that. Mastering anything new takes time. Besides, letting off steam is therapeutic. Ditto being authentic with how you feel. I don’t deny driving in rush hour traffic makes me angry, isn’t stressful, frustrating, or tell myself it’s something I enjoy.
I can’t control external factors like the weather, reckless motorists, and I can’t make the traffic move faster or disappear, but I can control my emotions and how I respond to what’s going on.
This is an edited and updated version of a post I wrote for The Self Improvement Blog called ‘How I Improved My Relationship With Rush Hour Traffic’ – Ed.