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Which came first? Road rage or the speed bump!

In the space of a ¼ mile, there happen to be no less than 3 stop signs and 6 speed bumps.   The speed limit has been reduced from 50 km/h to 30 km/h.   Honestly, I would get there faster on foot and pushing a wheelbarrow and I wouldn’t be nearly as frustrated. By the time I’ve travelled that strip where obviously the message that’s being rammed into your shocks is to slow down, I’m most excited to see that I can do the next ¼ mile without obstructions.   Relief at last!  Of course, I immediately set out to make up the time lost on that last ¼ mile and while I’m at it, I’m going to make myself feel better by revving my engines to work out my frustration.   Yes yes, always a most effective response.  Know what I mean?   Sure, I could meditate or take deep breaths and get all zen, but whatever for when I can engage in a bit of satisfying road rage?

I’m really wondering what they’re thinking…   Those who by their very nature take a Sunday drive will not notice all the bumps and obstructions, and those whom they are attempting to slow down will actually speed up between all the bumps and stops and get worked up to boot.  So does it really solve anything to add yet another speed bump?   Oh, and did I mention that the streets are already designed to slow you down by the simple fact that they are winding roads, somewhat akin to a go-karting track?  But no.  We can’t be trusted to maintain a decent pace so we will respond aggressively to far too many orders to do this and do that and don’t do this and don’t do that.   There are so many signs out there with all that you cannot do that you don’t even notice them anymore.  How often do I go flying over a speed bump only because I slowed down for the first three signs which were merely warnings.  Eventually I give up and put my foot back on the gas, because that’s where it feels good, only to finally hit that speed bump they’ve been warning me about for the last three minutes.

This week I had a most joyous experience.   I just got back from spending a few days in an area where children are not only allowed to, but actually do, roam completely free and without a million adults watching with hawk eyes.   The playgrounds are full of the types of games from back in the 20th century.   The tall slides made of metal and wood, the spinning horizontal wheel thing that you grab onto and run with until it’s spinning and then jump on to eventually fall off.   Seesaws made of metal and wood.  Swings with long chains so you can swing high.  I was watching the kids play.   At one point there were about 30 kids of all ages and the older kids naturally slow down when the younger ones are around.   I watched kids fly off that spinning wheel thing into, guess what…good old gravel and sand.   And they would get up and dust themselves off while the others slowed down the wheel so they could get back on.   There was no crying, just laughter, joy and can you imagine…freedom!!!  It was so very fun to see.  I too felt free.  At first I wondered why I felt so free given that I was merely watching.  Ultimately I realized how liberating it was to see and feel the freedom the children were enjoying.  Who knew that seeing a tall winding slide made of metal where the kids could actually pick up speed rather than those useless plastic things that are only six feet high at best and with so much friction from the plastic that it completely defies gravity and is nowhere near a thrill would provide such a feeling of freedom?  Oh and to see the kids riding their bikes without helmets or kneepads and swimming in a full blown pool without parental supervision.  Fabulous!!!  They were smiling, happy and free.   No crying, no accidents…just joy.

So is it road rage or speed bumps that came first?   My take on it is that all the restrictions cause frustration which needs an outlet.  The more you put restrictions on me, the more I will push and rebel to find freedom again.  How do you see it?

Maybe I just need to learn to park it on the damn bump and be grateful that it’s there.  Yes, someday perhaps I’ll reach that state of enlightenment and become a Buddhist frog.  But for now, I’m enjoying being frustrated that the bump exists…

9 Comments

  1. Wow, you sound like Bob. We just got back from a few days in Ontario………you want to see rules. Practically every sign started with “it is forbidden”

    For the most part, I don’t get upset. These signs do not cause rage…except….when you pay a fortune for a hotel room with a view of the water only to find out “it is forbidden to smoke on the balcony” So much for that idea.

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  2. Great article!!!

    I agree that too many rules and regulations and restrictions cause frustration and anger. Therefore, I believe that the speed bump causes the road rage!

    It’s also the fact that it’s in your face ALL the time… what you can do and cannot do! And as if that wasn’t enough, all the restrictions that the city forces on us, the citizens of our bubbled community insist on taking matters into their own hands too!! Just the other day, I came to a stop sign and there was this huge sticker on the sign that said “STOPPING IS NOT AN OPTION”… I was quite disturbed and angry at the sight of this sign… How dare they? I thought to myself! I continued on my way in total frustration… I couldn’t let it go. I had rage and so much so that I went back to that sign, parked my car, walked up to the stop sign and ripped off the sticky sign in a very aggressive manner! I was perfectly happy beore I spotted that sign and the sight of it completely changed my mood for the day…

    Just reading what your saying about this place makes me want to be there…As you are describing the playground, I’m reliving my childhood and remembering the freedom we had… Those were the days!

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  3. gotta love the rules, somehow they are designed to ‘protect’ us when as you say they limit us … I find it fascinating with all the ‘rules to protect us’ that people have come to believe they no longer need to take repsonsibility for themselves … my mum used to say “if common sense was so common, everyone would have it”
    This is a theme that is constant in my work … makes me delighted when a clients are ‘willing & ready’ to look at how this topic threads through their life.
    cheers Rx
    http://lifecoachingwithruth.blogspot.com/

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  4. Most people know how to behave properly, respect others and act decently. Rules are there for the exceptions, the few that are immuned to social skills and dignified behaviour. Yet, we are all asked to abide by them. Rules frustrate us because we have to stop, read or integrate them in some way, remember them, let alone understand their intricacies (just think of parking signs downtown Montreal) and that is why, in my view, they are frustrating. The speed bump is simply the concrete manifestation of the rule to slow down. It’s not the fact that we have to slow down that makes us angry, it’s that the speed bump doesn’t let us use our judgment; rather it forces us to act in a certain way, taking away our power to decide. Now, that can make anyone angry!

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  5. These are very interesting perspectives…thank you for sharing!! Ruth, your comment about no longer feeling like we need to take responsibility when we are bombarded with so many rules makes a lot of sense. I interpret that as meaning something akin to “why should I bother to concern myself with this or that when clearly it will be taken care of for me”. And then, as Kathleen says, that leads to a feeling of disempowerment which ultimately frustrates and angers us. Just like the examples by Sonya and Sue.

    Yes, these are great explanations of the feelings behind the actions. When I’m driving and I see a radar or a speed bump or even when reading the paper and seeing an article about yet another group of citizens petitioning for yet more “restrictive” measures to be adopted, my first reaction is to feel aggressed. Great point Kathleen about having that feeling that our better judgement is no longer valid. I wonder if all these measures then are not coming from those who already feel completely disempowered for one reason or another.

    I enjoyed the freedom the children were expressing when they were playing and as I continued to think about that experience, I also realized that I felt so much freer being in an environment where I wasn’t seeing parents get up every minute with that fear that yet again a child was about to maybe hurt themselves. There was noone yelling to not do this, be careful of that, and jumping out of their seats to stop another potential accident. I realized that it puts everyone on edge. The kids are on edge and probably therefore prone to more accidents and the parents can’t relax because they’re always watching and anticipating more bad things. No wonder we’re stressed so much of the time. And then after that, you get in your car and it’s speed bump and “it is forbidden” signs and don’t don’t don’t all over the place. Ahhhhh, SIGH!!!

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  6. Definitely Road Rage. But…

    Initially, most rules, regulations and laws are implemented with the greater good in mind. But no individual rule can cover all the possible aspects it’s directed at. So as more and more people bypass or ignore them, more rules are added.

    So, how does one slow down an afflicted driver? Reduce speed limits and add speed bumps.

    Hmm. Ok, that didn’t work to stop their Road Rage. Oh and by the way, it not only increased the angst, but it’s spreading to their neighbours. Hmmm, Ok then. Reduce the limit further and add more bumps… Sounds almost like one of those horror movies where the virus just keeps spreading.

    Laws are being created and imposed by people whose jobs are more akin to a popularity contest then anything else. And it’s easier to appease those who complain the loudest with minor rules, then implement what I feel should be done. Don’t P… off the general population by tightening the noose for everyone, just increased the severity of the punishment.

    I had heard a saying once, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. This same concept can be put to many situations. The people who demand lower speed limits, more speed bumps, or the banning of Bert and Ernie on TV make up a very small portion of the population. So why are things done to accommodate them? Because they are the only people demanding change. Can we blame the lawmakers? Not all the time in my opinion. The decisions are made by popular vote. ‘All the ayes raise your hands. Now all the nays’ but if only the aye people are there…

    Ok, so it’s more of a rant. But I fully felt your frustration at those speed bumps. I’m just as guilty as the next. I’ve fallen into a Road Rage once or twice myself (weekly).

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  7. When it comes to children, I find it interesting how in the last few generations, we’ve gone from letting children learn wisdom through their own actions and discoveries to being extremely protective. I used to play street hockey using old boards with nails through them and broken bottles for the nets and lines, but now reprimand my own kids for playing with things they pick up off the ground. Played hide and seek in old abandoned buildings, but tell my kids to use the other swing set in the park, because this one is kind of rusty.

    I think the problem is that we allow things to go too far trying to protect and shelter instead of addressing situations directly.

    Most children will self-regulate in time. When the carousel goes too fast, the kids who can’t get on will eventually do something else and the one who wouldn’t let it slow down will end up alone. Let a parent step in to force them to slow down, well that will just fuel the speeders own form of environmental Road Rage, and vent elsewhere.

    Take bullying. It’s a terrible thing for anyone, child or adult, to endure. But I don’t feel all the steps being taken are the appropriate ones. A bully is a bully, regardless of the rules. And they will continue to do so and just hide it better. But doing things like limiting certain activities we all played at as children is silly. Yes being picked last for a team during recess was disappointing and left one feeling singled out. But how is teaching children that nobody can create teams on their own because not everyone is as good/fast/strong… You’ve only increased the number of people who will point the finger at the weakest link.

    There’s often a bad apple in most barrels. We need to stop throwing whole barrels away.

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  8. I enjoyed reading these thoughts Sean. Great point about the squeaky wheel getting the grease! I never liked the idea of having to squeak and squawk for what I always figured was common sense to prevail. Alas, a few years ago I finally decided to try the squeaky wheel method, and it worked. Like you say, if you’re not there to represent your perspective, only the other side will be heard and catered to.

    And another point that you made that made me smile…”we need to stop throwing whole barrels away”. Yes…that’s a great way of putting it.

    Do you think that there is an underlying feeling of being out of control that provokes this “need” for over-control?

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  9. Hmmm, that’s not an easy question.

    First you’d need to decide what is out of control.

    I’m a firm supporter of laws/rules/suggestions made in order to prevent harm. But that by itself is difficult to level out. Some are easy as they are based on proven facts and/or logic. Like drinking and driving. Yes the act of drinking doesn’t harm anyone (not taking into account excess of course) but the potential that you could harm yourself or another if you drive is undeniable. So I vote Yes to the drinking and driving being bad. The same logic goes for anything else. ie speeding, stealing, abuse…..

    But what about the things that don’t cause direct harm. hmmm those grey areas are hard to discuss because each person lives by what feels right for them. ie Bert & Ernie living together = Good or bad? I won’t go there, but you can see when one person sees something bad and acts, someone who doesn’t needs to take the other side or lose.

    As to feeling out of control? What is that feeling realy. Is it the person who feels within a loss, or is it something outside that tells them they are out of control.

    Ok. Married person, Mid life crisis, gamble and cheating = to me, will more then likely be causing themselves and others harm, so I would say they are going out of control.

    Married person, mid life crisis, takes up adrenaline pumping activities. ie skydiving. Might cause harm to themselves, but I don’t see them as out of control. But some would. “Oh my, have you heard about so and so. Doing all these things at their age, they’re just going out of control”

    Next thing you know, enough people feel that way, TADA Skydiving is now age limited to people under X. or just banned completely because not enough people stood up to keep it.

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