by Mike Scantlebury

It’s said that some people ‘change’ when they get behind the wheel of a car. That’s true. Some mild mannered souls can suddenly get irritable and aggressive, taking their inner rage out on other road users. Perhaps they realise they are suddenly in the driving seat of a ton of metal and that they can be dangerous for once in their lives. Hamamering the engine, jamming the pedals, racing the revs, they transform into their mad vision of a Formula One racing driver, and weave and dodge all over the road. Later, chastened, they park their vehicle and revert to the innocuous members of society they have always been.

There are two alternatives. One is that the hidden qualities of rage and anger are caused by frustrations in life. Your average dangerous driver is simply that: average. The plain fact is that nothing much is working in their lives, and the highway is the only place they truly feel they can express themselves. You may imagine I’m thinking of bored, middle aged people here, but the same holds true for the youngsters, the so-called ‘boy racers’. Okay, their behaviour on the road is pretty awful, but what else have they got in life? What if they haven’t got a proper job, and finance their car with theft and petty crime? What if they’re still living at home with their parents, too broke to move out? What if they’re in training, paid a pittance with a promise of promotion way off, somewhere far, far down the line? Well then, they’ve got nothing going for them. The next time one of these thugs cuts in front of you or races past you on a dangerous bend, think about it: that’s the best feeling they’re going to have all day. All the rest is mundanity and frustration.

The other alternative is that the road villain is a bully all the time. The person who slams their car all over the road, is then going to park in the Disabled parking space even though they aren’t entitled to it, and rush into the office and shout at a few employees. They’re going to fiddle their Income Tax return and cross the road rather than donate to the homeless guy. Then they’re going to struggle to maintain a relationship, given their innate selfishness. Hey, do you wannna be that guy? Okay, he got in front of you in the traffic queue and was speeding in a built-up area, but again, what’s he got going for him? Not much. Darn little.

But if those mad drivers on the road aren’t impressing as they seek to be, the question for every one of us remains: what kind of a driver do we want to be? The choice is clear. We can live a life of ‘quiet desperation’ and try and compensate by taking out our worries and fears on the open road, or we can take charge of our lives. Then, we won’t have to threaten other people with death and destruction from our badly handled motor vehicles, because we have an inner core of peace and quiet satisfaction that things are, in fact, going our way. To me, that sounds like something better, something to aim for, to be the same sort of driver as the person you are in real life, to be consistent. But to do that, then we have to get behind the wheel of our lives, not just the steering wheel of our cars. It’s not that difficult, it just needs thinking in a different way.

After all, if you were getting into your car this morning and I asked you where you were going, you’d probably be able to answer. It might be commuting to work, or taking the kids to school, or doing a bit of shopping. You know where you’re going. Okay, now I ask you where you’re going in the next week? Make sense? If I ask you where you’ll be in an hour’s time, then, looking at your schedule, you can easily answer that query. If I ask you where you’ll be in a week’s time, it might seem more difficult. You might consult your calendar and see what appointments you’ve arranged. No, I don’t mean that. I’m thinking that maybe you’ll be doing something this week that will move you on, will get you closer to where you want to be in life. Something that will be contributing to the journey you have mapped out and planned.

I can explain that in my own case: I’m sitting here writing this article, and by this same time next week I plan to have written two more. I’ve also just started a new novel and by next week I’m aiming to have finished the first chapter and completed the synopsis. Well, that’s me. I’m a writer and I would say that, wouldn’t I? Of course there are other things, more personal. In the next week I’m helping my daughter to move into a new house and yes, that is a big deal:aa it means I’m getting older and there will be just me and the missus in the house after that, alone together. What will we be like in a year’s time? I can tell you this: I’m going to get behind the wheel and start working on that, I’m not just going to let it happen. I’m not going to let the car have its own way and steer me wherever it wants to go. That’s my choice, my responsibility. If I end up retired and in a Nursing Home, flat broke and dependent on handouts, then it will be because of the decisions I’m making right now. There is an alternative, and I’m taking it. Why? Because that’s the kind of driver I am.


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