Will got on Google Earth tonight for an assignment. We ended up looking at our home in Topeka. My little car that I dearly loved and that I sold before leaving was sitting in the driveway and I realized that I’ll never ever live that life again. And then I cried.
Thanks for rubbing that in, Z.
Will: this Snapple tea says it’s made from the best stuff on earth. And the best thing on Earth is the internet, so I guess it’s made from electronics!
Years ago I landed my first job for a nonprofit in Kansas City. I continued to live in Topeka. That was 140 miles of driving every day — mostly high-speeds turnpike driving. (I drove into the sun both directions, which adds more stress than you might realize.) That was two hours of intense stress, anxiety and road rage.
I used to speed along, annoyed with anyone who would dare to get in my way and cause me slow down, even for a fraction of a second. Didn’t they understand that I had places to be?
One day, after a particularly stressful drive to work, I was stopped in for a chat with one of my older and wiser coworkers to commiserate the commute. He lived in Lawrence, so he also dealt with a longer commute, although shorter than mine, obviously. He just smiled when I told him about the perceived injustice I had experienced. He told me how he drives slower on the highway because he doesn’t want that stress. “People are so angry, Natasha.” He told me how he would get death stares when people passed him. And he told me all this in such a soothing and calming way, that I could feel myself relaxing. I hadn’t realized how much adrenaline I still had in my system simply because of that morning’s commute.
So, the next day, I tried it. I set my cruise control to just a couple miles over the speed limit. I wasn’t impeding the traffic flow, I just wasn’t setting it either. I felt the glares as people passed me — the same that I had been guilty of throwing at slow drivers. And you know what? I didn’t spontaneously combust because of their hatred. I didn’t cause an accident. I wasn’t late to work; in fact, I arrived at work at the same time as the day before, just without the headache, tight shoulders and pounding heart. It was the best day I’d had at work to that point.
Now that I cycle on the streets, I’m especially cautious driving. I want to set a good example for my kids, who will be the next cyclists and drivers. I want to demonstrate to the other drivers that slowing down for literally two seconds doesn’t make you late, but it can save a life. And as a cyclist, I appreciate the drivers who do the same for me.
Just … slow down. Breathe. Your health and wellbeing will thank you for it. And, you’ll still make it to work on time.
I reflected on my experience today because of this blog post. Please take a minute to read it. I promise it’s worth your time.