I’ve decided that driving – particularly in rush hour traffic – is an excellent litmus test of character.
I both live and work close to one of the city’s major arteries, just 19 km (12 miles) from one to the other. Six lanes of traffic on a divided highway. Speed limit 100 km (60 miles) per hour.
When I travel to work each weekday at 6:30 a.m., traffic is relatively heavy but moves along briskly.
It typically takes 12 to 15 minutes to get to my destination.
My after work commute is an entirely different story. When I leave work at 4:00 p.m., traffic is ‘stop and go’ most – if not all – the way.
It typically takes up to 63 minutes to get home.
Last Friday, it took 59 minutes.
Not so nice…
I had ample warning. As soon as I started the car, the radio host cheerfully announced that all major arteries were clogged due to various mishaps, and that the commute was going to be even slower than usual.
His advice to drivers?
“Pack some patience”.
I had 59 minutes to consider that statement. Here’s what I came up with.
When you go on a trip, before you even leave home, you carefully decide what to pack in order to make the journey as enjoyable as possible.
No one starts packing in the middle of a trip.
And anyone who’s ever not packed well will tell you that the trip instantly becomes more stressful. Minor annoyances become magnified. Nothing seems to go right. Tempers run short.
It pays to plan ahead.
That analogy carries over to driving in rush hour traffic. You’re going to be on the trip regardless, so it only makes sense to plan ahead to ensure it will be as stress-free as possible.
It pays to pack patience.
I’ve seen perfectly nice, normal people get into their vehicles and then somehow lose their minds behind the wheel. Cutting off people, driving on the shoulder, weaving across lanes, recklessly speeding, taking risky and unnecessary chances, road rage, and more.
You know what I’m talking about…
I see the results of impatience every day. Someone rolls their car after losing control when they sped across three lanes of traffic. A small car sustains heavy damage when a Ford F-150 rams into the back. Multiple car pile-ups. Injury accidents.
What I don’t see very often is patience.
So, yesterday, I decided to be intentional about it. I packed late but at least I packed. I’m usually reasonably patient in traffic but I’m no saint. Things get to me as much as the next person. I can always use improvement.
I can honestly say that it really did help to focus on being patient right from the beginning.
For the most part, I was able to ignore the sometimes ridiculous antics of other drivers, and to stay relatively relaxed as I inched along at a snails pace.
At the 51 minute mark, a small car cut in front of me without warning, and promptly slammed on his brakes. I came to a stop thisclose to his back bumper.
The word ‘jerk’ was possibly uttered.
Ok, probably uttered. But I did only whisper it (true story..).
So… I was less than perfect. But, just imagine if I hadn’t been focusing on patience in the first place.
The bottom line?