x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

When rage is all the rage

Bottled up and buried deep inside, road rage can be dangerous. Allowing yourself to express it in a controlled manner, however, can ease that pent-up tension.

No one in their right minds likes rush hour traffic. And to those of us who have been delightfully cruising the capital's streets, I'm not breaking any news here when I state that the roads are like a fun-filled obstacle course. I have yet to understand what those random wicks sticking out of the tar in front of Abu Dhabi Mall are for. Lines on the pavement not working anymore? Don't even get me started on detours, they seem to spread like a bad virus and show no signs of a cure!

But you tell yourself, rush hour doesn't have to be that stressful. And by comparison to some roads in other congested cities, jams here are not that bad. There is usually a certain rhythm to traffic here. It's a unique, modern ballet of cars, zipping in and out. We settle into the ever fluctuating speed limit, work as a team; it's stress-free, and then, wham! Road etiquette goes out the window and reality hits; you've entered the wild, wild Middle East traffic twilight zone.

Just try changing lanes if you dare without shouting out, "Would it kill you to allow me to enter the lane without ripping my door off?!" You look around at the sea of international driving codes converging. "Get off the phone, you jerk, you're going to kill somebody". You wish a police officer was standing close by, so a fine could be issued. Would it kill people to stay focused on what they are doing behind the wheel? As you venture further, you find yourself rapidly becoming this monster and spouting out things like, "You idiot, get out of the left lane!" or "Do you even know what brakes are for?" or my personal favourite: "Your car has more intelligence than you do."

Oh dear, I've turned into Michael Douglas from Falling Down, minus the shotgun. Bottled up and buried deep inside, road rage can be dangerous. You tend to look -and act - like a pressure pot that spews steam and whistles madly. Allowing yourself to express it in a controlled manner, however, can ease that pent-up tension. Now, do keep in mind that, as a general rule, road rage should never involve violence and one should never try to use one's vehicle in an aggressive way. And for those of you who are used to certain gestures, do resist the temptation because here, more so than foul driving, that can get you arrested.

For healthier, safer and jail-free modes of release, a prescription of yelling comfortably in the private confines of your air-conditioned vehicle would be advised. Normally I would encourage pumping up the volume during your favourite song. However, since the day a man in a car beside me yelled at me to lower my music that he found offensive, I would be very cautious to not trigger alternate road rage buttons in others.

Because we all have plenty of reasons to feel a little stressed out. Personally, I find that expressing road rage can be healthy. To a point. psantos@thenational.ae