Drive Like Hell and You’ll Get There

Not too long ago, I attended a presentation from an expert on psychopathology who was teaching us about why people do really scary and horrific things. At one point in the presentation, he said something like: “In the United States, you are going to see so many interesting things on the road because we have a random sample of the population. So there are going to be some real nuts out there.”

He then explained more about the phenomenon of road rage and other seemingly “psycho” behaviors we may encounter on the road.  Just our luck, because most people in the U.S. can and will drive a car at some time, we will always be “blessed” with interesting experiences! Some of those experiences will be downright disturbing.

My youngest daughter and I experienced one such incident on a Saturday afternoon lunch date. We were headed to a favorite restaurant together. We had to turn left onto the highway. We pulled into the left-hand turn lane behind a very large box truck. Since we were in my small sedan, we could not see around the truck. Apparently, the light changed as the truck started to move forward. As we approached the intersection, I was unable to determine whether the arrow to turn was still green, so I slowed down to be safe. I allowed enough distance to wait and see whether it was safe to make the left turn. Waiting, I saw the arrow turn yellow and red, so I gently stopped at the light to wait for the next cycle.

Then I looked behind me. In my mirror, I could clearly see the man behind me. He was yelling and pounding on the dashboard. I could not tell for sure since I was viewing through the mirror, but there appeared to be a stream of expletives coming out of his mouth. He then took off his hat and pounded it on the dashboard of his car. He was obviously very angry at me for not making the turn. He pulled his hair, thrashed his body wildly about, and continued to slam his hat against the dash with his other hand.

I became frightened a moment later when he opened his door as if to get out and come up to me. I quickly reached to lock the door and saw him get back in his car with a slamming sound. He continued to rant and rave, alternating between pulling on his hair and smacking the dashboard repeatedly.

Then, when the light changed again, he squealed around me and waved at me with one finger. He then raced erratically onto the highway. My heart was racing with a little anxiety about the circumstance, but I sighed in relief that he was now on his way. Imagine my surprise when just a few moments down the road, we saw him sitting at a red light waiting for it to change. You guessed it! He was still throwing his tantrum. It was just not his day!

I don’t really know for sure, but I think I had just witnessed what some scriptural accounts, describing hell and those sent there, call “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” I was just driving safely on the road to lunch with my daughter. I like to think I was in control of myself behind the wheel of my car. For this man, it was a completely different experience. He was out of control and it showed. He was hijacked by a rage I believe most would consider irrational and unreasonable. He lost it! He could not control his outward circumstances, including the driver and lights in his path on his way. Therefore, his life became a kind of hell-in-the-moment because he obviously could not control himself.

So much about life is beyond our control. Each day, we are all faced with obstacles and events that, if we let them, will cause us stress and frustration.

Many of these are really of small consequence (like missing the green turn arrow). Others may be larger and carry the potential of greater impact. Yet we always retain the ability to control and compose ourselves. We are given the capacity to choose our thoughts and actions. No other creatures under the heavens have such capacity given to them.

It is telling how we respond to these little frustrations and unfortunate delays in getting what we want or where we want to go. It has been said you can tell a lot about someone by how he handles the little things that can frustrate us. Do we respond as the man behind my daughter and I?

What little things upset us and get us to act in hellish ways? If we let it, there is much about life to take us down a dark and scary road, feeling miserable. We also can choose to relax, remind ourselves things will be okay, and go forward with some composure. Surely, the loss of self-control, especially in the most insignificant of circumstances, reflects a lot about who we are and what we value. Truly, the greatest control is self-control. To lose that really seems to produce a kind of hell—a place I want to avoid.


Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R Jacobs is a brave creator who strives to do mighty things! Jim is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator helping others to live more brave and authentic lives! He is the author of Driving Lessons For Life: Thoughts on Navigating Your Road to Personal Growth. Jim speaks professionally, and coaches others to success and living with integrity. He is a counselor, educator, innovator, father, and friend. Please check out Jim R. Jacobs and Driving Lessons For Life and find Jim on social media! Let's connect and dare mighty things!

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