Prompts 115-116

Prompt 115. Snakes: interesting or creepy? Why?

I used to think snakes were creepy. When I was a kid I thought they were all like cobras or anacondas and would either poison me or strangle me. Growing up on a farm I encountered plenty of garden-variety snakes and almost always cried when I did.

That fear stuck with me for a long time, but as I got older I eventually came to terms with it. The internet was a big factor in that. Between educating myself on the different types of snakes and which snakes are common to which regions, I realized I was far less likely to be bit by a venomous snake than get into a car accident.

Plus, photos of tiny snakes with hats or in sweaters made even my icy heart melt. And the depersonalization of “danger noodle” made them super cute. A friend of mine has a corn snake and my husband hates how I fawn over it when we’re cat-sitting. He has not accepted our danger noodle overlords yet, but one day.

Prompt 116. What is something totally overrated in your world?

Road rage.

I get it. Someone cuts you off, you wanna ram your car through their backside. You scream and cuss, flip the bird and lay on your horn. You catch up to them at a stop light and stare them down, willing them to absorb your ire and wallow in shame for the inconvenience they caused you.

You’re in the passing lane and the car in front of you is doing the speed limit. You flash your headlights at them, hoping they’ll move. Speed limits are for squares and squares don’t belong in the fast lane.

It’s easy to get mad when you’re in a bubble – a bubble of plastic and metal hurtling down the highway at speeds your squishy body would not otherwise be capable of reaching. It’s easy to insinuate the other driver’s sexual preferences or their mother’s sexual habits. Much like everyone on Twitter, you’re just yelling into the void.

But here’s the thing. You’ve been that person. You’ve cut someone off accidentally (or purposefully, I don’t know, maybe you’re a petty and spiteful person and this post isn’t for you anyway) or you zoned out while driving in the passing lane, not realizing you’d slowed to the point where people are forced to drive around you on the unsafe side.

And while it’s inconvenient or frustrating or annoying, it makes no difference at the end of the day. If you didn’t run into the car that pulled out in front of you, if you still arrived at your destination after being slowed by the snail car in the fast lane, what’s the point in getting angry?

I have this argument with my husband every time we drive somewhere and someone is weaving through traffic at a breakneck pace or poking along in front of him at a pace slower than he’d like. He curses. He gestures. I ask him what he’s so angry about.

“That guy cut off that other car! He could have cause an accident!” Ok, but he didn’t. “He’s an asshole! He shouldn’t be driving like that!” How do you know he’s an asshole? Maybe he just didn’t see the other car or thought he had more room. “Well it was too close!” But nothing bad happened. And it wasn’t you he cut off. “Yeah, I guess.”

I can’t count how many times we’ve had that conversation. There are a lot of idiot drivers in Connecticut. Mostly it sets him on edge because he was rear-ended once by some kid who wasn’t paying attention to the congestion. I stand by my statements though. There’s no point in getting mad about something that didn’t happen, especially when it’s entirely out of your control.

As for the snail cars, my first philosophy is this: we’re all gonna get where we’re going. There’s no need to be in such a rush. In fact we’re all far more likely to arrive in one piece if we stop worrying about how fast we’re going. Full disclosure: I have a lead foot and drive like a bat out of hell. But I don’t get indignant when someone in front of me sets a slower pace. If I’m running late, that’s my own fault and I will suffer the consequences.

My other philosophy regarding snail cars is that I’m right where I’m supposed to be at that moment in time. Call it faith, call it karma, call it cosmic confluence or whatever, but I choose to believe that by accepting the minor inconvenience of being slowed down or cut off, I am avoiding something far worse.

On 9/11, someone’s new pair of shoes gave them a blister as they walked to work at the World Trade Center. They stopped at a convenience store to get Band-Aids. Another employee spilled coffee on their shirt and had to go home and change. Someone else missed their train. A colicky baby kept a new parent home for the morning.

These people all had normal every-day inconveniences that delayed them from getting to work and ultimately saved their lives. I’m not saying every minor inconvenience is sparing you from catastrophe. 99,999 times out of 100,000 (a highly scientific and entirely not made-up statistic) it’s just an annoyance. But that one time is all it takes.

You’re exactly where you are meant to be. You will get where you are supposed to go. We all will. If only we let go of the things we can’t control. Let go of the rage. It’s overrated anyway.

Notes: I wrote this last night and then driving home from work today I had one of those days where every other driver was an idiot so of course I laughed at myself when I realized I was starting to get annoyed.

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