Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Idiots and Anxiety

 Until yesterday I had never suffered from severe anxiety. Well, there was that time during my freshman year in college when I was tasked with finding a date for the Sadie Hawkins Day dance. Naturally I set my sights on a really nice looking junior boy. Oh, and then there was the last moment before a very important occasion when I realized the  dress I had chosen weeks earlier had a broken zipper. But I digress. 

Yesterday afternoon I was making my way back downtown when traffic came to halt. No one was going any where. After sitting in the middle lane on the Ashley River bridge for some time, I realized it was time for plan B. I pulled into the right lane, which was miraculously moving, and made my way across the river. Thank goodness I am familiar with Charleston and her peculiar layout of one way streets. Taking a very circuitous route through the neighborhoods, I found that the traffic nightmare was not limited to the Cross Town. There was traffic at a standstill everywhere. 

While sitting somewhere on Radcliffe Street, I pulled up Google Maps and saw that, instead of the streets on the peninsula being a lovely color of green,  the entire area looked like a basket weave pattern of red lines. On closer look, I saw that the traffic was not just indicated as "red", it was a deep "wine" color that I did not even know existed among the normal green, yellow, and orange congestion colors. This color indicated a large parking lot.

Suddenly I was feeling what I realized was anxiety. I remember reading somewhere that the three most frequent situations that trigger an anxiety attack are: having to speak before a large audience, being in the middle of a crowd of strangers, and heavy traffic. Bingo, C - Heavy Traffic. Memories of Diane, David, and Peter telling us in therapy about the anxiety attacks they suffered. Well now I could relate.

Did my anxiety bring on "Road Rage" (aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle which includes rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver ...) ? Certainly not. I think that only applies when traffic is moving. Right?

And "Going Postal" (becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment). This did not qualify simply because I was not in a workplace. Even in a state of anxiety I could justify not suffering from either of these, if nothing else due to my southern upbringing.

Whatever, these drivers were crazy and stupid. In my mind I became frustrated that I would never get home. I could see getting into a wreck (I failed to mention it was raining.)  I started talking to myself, "Idiot the light is green. Move it, it will not last long." "You have to be frigging me. You want to make a left turn here?" "I know you are not going to block that intersection? Can't you see it is imbeciles like you who are adding to this melee?" "Mister, just have some patience. Yes, I am going to turn in front of you. You don't like it? Fine, take away my birthday."

I needed a drink. That is if I ever got home. In the end, after an hour and 5 minutes for a typical 10 minute trip (in normal traffic), I reached my apartment. Through all this I learned several things (1) anxiety is a real and frightening thing, (2) there are a lot of stupid drivers down here, and (3) the exorbitant rent I pay to live downtown is worth every penny. If I had to commute every day (even without yesterday's nightmare) I would go postal and possibly develop road rage. And it would not be pretty. Then they could add "or heavy traffic" to the definition of "Going Postal".

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