sitting in traffic: road kill

The concept of sitting amongst interminable traffic is so widespread and familiar as to make regular clichés seem like fresh air in Beijing. How we respond can make the Wait Lossdifference between being impatient and forlorn for the entire day or at peace with productivity in light of what cannot be changed.

Do we curse or listen to an audiobook? Do we throw up a thin body part in a form of gesticular cancer or do we put on a foreign language-learning CD? Do we feel stress to the point of needing a heart stent or do we call ahead and let them know that we’ll be late?

As with most negative circumstances, how we deal with the inevitable daily pitchforks inherent within automobile transportation reveals much about us. In addition to the above options, perhaps we’ll take that unanticipated extra half hour forced to lick the pavement and call a parent, a sibling, a friend in need. Perhaps we’ll take some quiet time—away from distractions as plentiful as they are unproductive—to carefully think about a child’s needs, a pending surgery, a particular career challenge.

In yet the latest high-profile instance of road rage—as common as the color red on stop signs—the neighborhood-watch volunteer from Florida, George Zimmerman, just missed getting shot on the road last week in an incident tied to a previous encounter. While thankfully most road-rage incidents do not involve players like Zimmerman who have had run-ins with girlfriends, an ex-wife and strangers, and who have killed an unarmed black teenager, how can any of us know that the tailgater behind us or the weaver in front of us will not cause broken ribs, a concussion or worse upon the body in our own driver’s seat?

Whether trolling the Northeast Corridor on I-95 as one of countless hot, packed French fries or stuck in a construction backup on the most local of roads, why not take a pedal-step back and go the productive, peaceful route? Must the experience take its toll? Why lose limb, or worse, life? That can readily happen when watching our wait all too closely.