Is Road Rage Genetic?

If so, it's in my fam. I can almost guarantee it. Both of my parents are notorious for a lot of yelling, hand gestures, and creative name calling. And all for something as insignificant as someone not putting on their blinker, which most likely occurs every other lane change or turn. Obviously, this kind of road rage behavior is warranted for more serious driving offenses that risk lives. However, I usually find that my parents "defensive" driving is a tad on the aggressive side when it comes to their emotional reactions.

I've tried to tone down my own vehicular frustration down since I noticed friends feeling uncomfortable, even in situations where I wasn't driving. Constantly saying things like, "Sorry, I have road rage," sounds kind of like, "Sorry, I have hemorrhoids," and by that, I mean it's kind of lame and something you shouldn't be admitting to people. If you're easily frustrated while driving, take a deep breath and focus on something else (while focusing on driving of course...if you can't multi task, then maybe you should skip this step?). It's kind of like what you do when you run long distances; you know where you're going and when to stop and avoid others around you, but you're constantly in this secondary, auto-pilot zone where you can drift off into other thoughts.

I'm always reminded of my dormant disorder when I drive with my parents. Spending only a mere couple of hours with them on the road and I'm already susceptible to regaining strength in this inherited trait. My mother gets cut off at one point, and starts furiously flashing her high beams at the "asshole" in the beamer in front of us. She then decides that blinding lights in their rear view mirror could never equate to what they did to her, so she thrusts her middle fingers on both hands towards the windshield. Yet, you know you're really in deep shit when she sticks out her tongue and bites down on it, with this sort of animalistic grimace covering her entire face (my siblings and I are familiar with this look from our childhood). I laugh a little, shake my head, and explain that I didn't think her reaction was necessary, which is when she proclaims that it must've been from the head injury she suffered a few years ago in a bicycle accident. I tell her she should really stop using that as an excuse, because I'm 99.9% sure this kind of activity was never any different from how she would act behind the wheel before. At least the a-hole in the BMW got the picture and hopefully won't do it again.

On the ride back, I got to witness the glory that is my father driving. Now, I understand if someone has road rage and drives a Ford F150 or some outrageously expensive or large car. They need to make up for insecurities and therefore can cower behind their gas guzzler while screaming expletives through the four walls of glass and steel that wrap around a car. My father? He knows no such thing as the word insecurity even though no one should feel safe or secure in his pint sized Toyota Yaris. One has never seen a man so proud to be driving such a little and inexpensive car. The guy gives people the thumbs up any time he sees other Yaris drivers...seriously, every single time he sees one. Half the time, they think he's some creep commending their looks or something, but at least the other half nod back in agreement.

Onto the more negative side of his car skills, he also likes to yell at people for absolutely nothing. While doing so, he attempts to incorporate all of the latest "hip" slang, in an effort to practice adolescent jargon in order to impress the senior high school students he teaches. For example, as he drove onto an on ramp a few weeks ago, the car or two in front of him came to a crawl and almost stopped. Now, the first thing you'll learn in my family's driving school is that you never stop at a yield sign. I don't care if there are seven tractor trailers lined up in the right lane of the highway pushing 90 mph. You better make it on there, and it doesn't matter if that means eating up the breakdown lane, or even a lane made of grass and sand. As these cars slow to a halt, my father grips the wheel whiteknuckled, leans forward, and spurts out, "C'mon, peeps! C'MON PEEPS!!" I think he would've continued to express himself wholeheartedly, but I had to interrupt and explain to him that on the streets, "peeps" are more so your friends than random jerks who can't drive. He looked at me as if I had just explained addition to the dude from Good Will Hunting, and I soon realized I had insulted his intelligence. "Of course I know what 'peeps' means, who do you think I am?" I apologized profusely, for you never want all that pent up, motor vehicle fury to be transferred over to you.

The moral of the story is that if you ever catch me cursing while driving, or while in the passenger or back seat of your car, I'm sorry. But it's really not my fault. It's been passed down. Chill on the roads, kids, it's not worth the stress.


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