Thursday, June 4

Lynn Ruth Miller: Flirting with fury …

- July 15, 2014

Whenever I go back to the San Francisco Bay area, I am immersed in non-stop road rage. Drivers swerve around you, hit the accelerator to get ahead of you, blast their horns to tell you to get out of their way and spew hate all over the highway. I find myself getting just as angry as the other drivers as I try to weave my way through six lanes of traffic to get to my destination. I come home exhausted, despising humanity and hating myself for succumbing to the hysteria that clogs our roads.

It is a glorious relief to come home to peaceful Brighton, where I walk everywhere, smile at everyone and love treading the streets. Humanity charms me when I am here and I find myself enjoying the kindly hustle and bustle on North Street.

I have always thought that road rage was foreign to those who use public transportation in Britain; that they would sooner stage a massacre than be rude to another person. Besides, it is not in the British personality to be rude or overbearing. The people in this country are obsessed with being politically correct.

“Two lovely young men with grandmother complexes bought me a coffee”

Or so I thought! I just spent two weeks in London, living in Stockwell, and taking the tube to Leicester Square. That was when I was exposed to Tube Rage. If I dared to try to tap my oyster card on the entrance gate during rush hour, I risked black and blue marks, mangled hips and fractured elbows. When I approached the escalator, I was so terrified I shut my eyes and prayed to the Almighty that my foot wasn’t crushed, and I was not hurled down the moving staircase because I forgot to stand on the right.

It turns out that all this pushing, shoving, jostling and crushing is not due to rudeness at all: it is the result of poor ventilation. In fact, the director of the British association of Anger Management warns that lack of oxygen is sure to cause uncontrolled acts of aggression.

What a relief! I thought all those people shoving me around were ageist brutes who didn’t care that I am elderly and frail. How wrong I was. When the British push you out of their way, it is a silent cry for air.

Which brings us right back to Brighton where fresh air is always swirling about us, filling our lungs with new oxygen from France. I boarded a train at London Victoria, and two people hit me in the shin in their rush to get to the coach first. One lady smashed her suitcase into my hip and another yanked my shoulder into a vertical position to reach the aisle seat. The minute we all got off the train in Brighton, everyone was smiling, inhaling the lovely oxygenated air and loving one another. A gentleman carried my case to the station, a lady held my arm lest I trip and two lovely young men with grandmother complexes bought me a coffee.

The oxygen cure would not work in America, however. It isn’t the air that infuriates them; it’s the government.

“Anger is never without a reason,
But seldom a good one.”
– Benjamin Franklin

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