Down by the strip you can hear the greasers calling me Speed Racer. Well, not all of them…but some do! Ok, no one calls me Speed Racer, plus I’m not even sure I’ve ever met a real greaser. But it would be pretty cool if they did though, right? I mean, I know the cardinal rule of nicknames: you don’t get to choose them. Which is why more people call me Spaghetti Lee (don’t ask) than Speed Racer, but I still think it’s a good fit.
Why you may ask?
Whenever I’m driving, I’m driving, and I mean really driving. Driving is one of the few things that completely clears my head. Now, I don’t want to use the term aggressive, I’m going to, I just wish I didn’t have to. Ok, here goes nothing, well, umm, you see… OK, my name is Ryan Ray and I’m an aggressive driver. Wow. It feels good to get that off my chest, really.
Ironically enough I’m probably one of the least aggressive people you’ll ever meet, just as long as we meet off the asphalt. Although I think that might be the biggest factor in my, at times, excessive frustration behind the wheel. I’ve never been able to bring myself to really yell at someone when I’m mad, and likely never will; but if you’re safely in your car, at a reasonable distance, there’s a good chance I’m giving you some very loud impromptu driving advice. It’s my only chance to actually yell! Plus it really helps let off some steam. Let’s try it together! Ready?
Better? I thought so.
Before I worked in the pizza business making salads and scrubbing dishes, I was working at an entertainment company in downtown Chattanooga. We set up a lot of weddings; when we weren’t setting up weddings we would set up concerts, trade shows, and private parties. It was mostly weddings. The drive to their warehouse in Chattanooga is around 45 minutes from my house, and being the designated truck driver (no big deal or anything) I was driving a lot. Whether on the interstate or cramped downtown streets, some drivers never cease to amaze me.
I’d say I had a fairly normal childhood, just as I imagine you did. I was a pretty healthy kid too, I had the chicken pox and a few colds but that’s it! However, I was diagnosed with chronic road rage, or “CRR,” about 5 years ago: merely days after my 16th birthday. While I’m fortunate for how early they were able to catch it, to this day it remains incurable. That’s right, I’ll likely be dealing with road rage for the rest of my life.
As I said in my last post: I love people. I just hate drivers. Often times I find myself picturing the road in front of me completely empty. No cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, or opossum pancakes anywhere. Trust me, it’s a pretty picture; though all too often it gets ruined by a Honda going 5 under in the left lane. Please, don’t be the Honda going 5 under in the left lane: no one likes that Honda. Collectively, it is in fact the least favorite of all Hondas. Tiny Japanese cars aside, nothing beats the open road. Wind in your hair and bugs in your teeth. It’s calm and relaxing, AND you get to be angry and loud!
Until recently I’ve never thought of anger as a good thing, mostly just destructive or unnecessary. However, I’ve started to think that sometimes angry and loud can be more helpful than calm and relaxing. It isn’t good to keep anger pent-up, it builds and builds until you can’t think straight. Eventually, you’ll make decisions reflecting that.
Want to know a secret? Sometimes I get angry; a lot of times actually. However, I’ve always been pretty good about expressing my anger when it’s appropriate. Something I’ve learned is that we have all of our emotions for a reason, and we need to be able to express all of them, even anger.
Enter road rage.
When I’m driving I get to yell and I get to get angry, which is a nice change of pace. I’m not a very physical person. As often as I’ve grown angry I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to express it with my body, just my words. I have friends who work out to blow off steam, friends who use adrenaline and sweat to express their anger. Not me, I need to use words and I need to use them loudly.
I’m not really trying to say road rage is a good thing. It can be taken way too far way too quickly. I’m mostly referring to my road rage specifically, as my favorite way to relieve some of my frustrations. It works for me; it might not work for you. It might be too difficult for you to not take road raging too far. That doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of your own steam to let off though. It doesn’t mean you don’t need some way to do so either.
You could try exercising or playing music or making art or anything really! But if you’re a word person like myself I recommend I-75 around rush hour, should do the trick.