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I don’t have road rage – I just have road disappointment

By Jennie Young

It’s not that I’m mad at you for cutting me off.
I’m just disappointed.
I’m too sad to be mad.
I thought we taught you Gen Z’ers better than this.
As a taxpayer whose hard-earned dollars go to support our public schools, I’ve worked my fingers to the bone so that you could have the best driver’s ed money could buy.
So you could have the privileges that my generation never had.
When I was your age, parents simply shoved their 16 year old in a car, headed straight for an almost-frozen lake, and we just had to figure it out.
I didn’t figure it out, and that’s why it’s particularly problematic for me when you slam on your brakes without warning.
Because of the toes I lost to frostbite and my hypothermia-induced brain damage, my reflex time is severely compromised.
And there you drive in front of me, with all your toes and mental faculties and expert driving instruction, just slamming on those brakes without a thought in the world for how it might impact the toeless, addlebrained driver behind you.
But I’m not going to shake my fist at you or cuss you out – I’ll probably just cry.
As you coast along doing 53 miles per hour in the left lane while leisurely texting and eating a burger, I’ll just use the extra time to focus on how we’ve all let you down by not teaching you to consider the impact of your actions on others.
While you’re swerving all over the road and changing lanes without signaling, I’ll just sharpen my focus to offset your selfishness.
I’ll try to put myself between you and other drivers so that no one gets hurt.
Except me, but I don’t matter.
I’ll be a martyr soon anyway.
Not an angry martyr, just a disappointed one.
Also, when you shine your high beams in my face, it doesn’t make me angry so much as it just really hurts.
It really hurts my eyes.
I’m disappointed that you’re hurting my retinas.
Wait, why are YOU crying?
I’m sorry, but you don’t get to do this.
It’s not my fault that you’re tailgating close enough to read the extreme disappointment on my face in my rearview mirror.
If you feel so bad, you shouldn’t be that close in the first place.
I’m disappointed in your proximity.
I’m not going to call the police on you to “teach you a lesson” or “make you pay” or anything.
I’ll just make brief eye contact and then shake my head sadly when we’re beside each other at the next light.
Probably one tear will slide dramatically down the driver’s side of my face.
I might even reach out my window and pat you lightly on the shoulder while saying something like, “It’s okay. I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”

Jennie Young is a professor and humor writer in Green Bay. Her work can be found in McSweeney’s, HuffPost, Education Week, Inside Higher Ed, Slackjaw, Weekly Humorist, The Satirist, Human Parts and others.

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