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Are You Insane?

Time is our greatest asset but it is not necessarily our friend.

We’ve passed through three states now and we’re nestled into Casper, Wyoming for the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo. The show lasts a total of 9 days, the first 3 days are exclusively the carnival and then the rest of the fair begins with the rodeo activities on the weekend.

Like everywhere else in the world, we’ve run into some truly kind people and then again we’ve ‘encountered’ some ghastly ugly souls with nothing better to do than complain or make trouble.

We stayed the first two night in Casper in the Walmart Parking Lot while I got things organized. We usually park our 34′ motorhome near an island in the middle of the lot to provide ‘some’ amount of security. Pulling out of the parking lot can be a trick. A 34′ motorhome doesn’t exactly turn on a dime. Luckily the lot was nearly empty so I could use two lanes to turn the motorhome around. I got the beast turned around without taking out any lightpoles and was at the end of the parking lot when a big black pickup truck comes racing up and turns right into my lane blocking us from leaving. The lady in the truck starts pointing her finger and screaming inside her truck. I can’t hear her of course. She rolls down her window and screams, “You’re going the wrong way!” and she won’t move.

The entire parking lot is empty and this lady decided to make a point because I was going the wrong direction in the lane.

I’m penned in now. Hil’s behind me in the suburban and this lady won’t move. I get out of the motorhome and walk towards the lady saying, “Lady, do you know how hard it is to turn around a 34′ motorhome in a parking lot?” The lady looked at me like I was insane for getting out of the motorhome and literally jumped the sidewalk curb and raced past me and the suburban bouncing over the median and curbs as she went.

What was the point?

Sometimes I think people should take a “How to be a Nice Person Class” followed by, “Commanding Common Courtesy”. We all fall into the river once in a while and let forth a salvo or two of profanities inside our rolling bunker along the bi-way. It’s human, not the better part of humanity, mind you- but it is human.

I begin to wonder if maybe there’s some kind of common thread that could explain a collective social insanity when more than two human beings are in the same atmosphere? I know there’s just some crotchety bad apples out there raised by goats, but let’s assume they are the exception to the rule and the rest of the folks out there have a heart and compassion deep down inside. Certainly outside the protection of our moving castles we don’t display the same type of aggressiveness towards complete strangers (at least I hope not).

I have a theory.

Sadly, most of us drive all day alone in our car. We drive our big honkin gas guzzling trucks and SUV’s completely empty around town like moving barricades. With an average weight of around 2 tons (4,000 lbs) we launch our uncertainty, doubt, and discomfort on the road to look for an opportunity to release pent up rage towards anyone we can find.

I think there are two parts to this theory.

One, alone in the car our mind starts to talk to our consciousness and slowly drives us crazy. Maybe we don’t talk to ourselves out loud (or we do) in the car but that inner voice keep a running monologue going and it’s looking for trouble. Timid little housewives, bean pole paper pushers to former real estate developers (Yes,Yes, me too) step into their suits of armor everyday looking for a confrontation to release the pent up anger built up by the inner voice.

There’s the second part of the theory. People use their vehicles like suits of armor to protect them from the ugliness of face to face confrontation. What happens if you walk right up to a big fat trucker and start yelling at him and pointing your prime importanto finger in his flabby chest? Why he might just pop you one in the nose. That might hurt. But if I’m inside my 4,000 lb cage with the windows rolled up and the AC on high I can shout and exchange forms of signs language with relative impunity.

This theory goes to pot when the other driver pulls out a gun and shoot right through your protective vail like on the highways of California (and elsewhere not to single out California).

What do we about this conundrum? Besides the obvious answer of scrapping the whole system and starting over (I don’t think that’s really the answer, I’m sure people got road rage in carts and buggies). I think we can attack this issue on two fronts, quieting the inner voice and then expressing compassion and courtesy to others on the road.

The inner voice is really the root of the problem. Dissatisfaction is the fuel to the fire. A side step would be to keep the body busy so the mind can rest. The real answer of course is to do things that make you happy. Not so easy. To move towards happiness is both a trial and error process and takes real effort. I’ll tell you a secret through (shhh), it’s the action of working towards happiness that brings the happiness- not the end result. LIfe is dynamic not static. Things change every day. There is no one happiness, only a momentary happiness.

I have a miserable friend that hates his life but when I suggest he drop everything and basically redesign his life to find happiness he emphatically tells me he can’t and he says that sometimes in life you have to do things you don’t like. I agree- but to what cost? Your life?

To me, taking out the trash is one of those things you’ve got to do. Earning a living (of some kind) is another. Suffering every day of your life in not one of the mandated items we are burdened with from birth (some people think so).

If someone yells at you what would be your first gut reaction? Defend yourself. Self preservation kicks in and you do what comes naturally. People expect that. What if instead of responding defensively you wave and smile and maybe even say “Sorry”? That would really throw people off wouldn’t it?

Of course to do that would require some kind of vigilance on your part. But the reward would be to dispel some of your rage and possibly do the same to others. Maybe even avoid getting shot.

Just a thought.

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5 comments to Are You Insane?

  • BrokeNotBroken

    have a miserable friend that hates his life but when I suggest he drop everything and basically redesign his life to find happiness he emphatically tells me he can’t and he says that sometimes in life you have to do things you don’t like. I agree- but to what cost? Your life?

    I have found that most people will not change their situation unless an external blow forces them to. It is almost as if they need a catalyst, something big enough to shock them out of their status quo, death of a close friend, divorce, loss of job, etc. Then they’ll start seriously reevaluating their direction. Until then, most will just keep on keeping on no matter how miserable it becomes.

    Where then did the weakness lie, the weakness that forced you to give up ten or twelve of what might have been the most vital years of your life? It lay, did it not, in the fact that you were flawed. You were big and strong on the surface, but something was wrong inside. You were strong enough to rebel—not strong enough to revolt.
    –Wanderer, Sterling Hayden Pg 142

    Most of us spend a life time rebelling.

  • Hola amigos!
    I’ve just been catching up with your website.
    Down here it’s not too hot actually and there’s been no rain or lightning storms at night.
    Standing by on 16.

  • big cheese

    Hola Maria-

    Have a cold cervesa and a fish taco for us!


  • big cheese

    Broke not Broken-

    It’s true, the human condition at it’s finest.

    Especially as a parent, I hope to teach by example and show them that life is rich and full of brilliant experiences and places to be seen and absorbed. I’m not sure I can overcome that very instinct you describe, however. Really the only way to overcome this dilemma is to live a “Do or Die”, “Make it or Break it” lifestyle. Failure is guaranteed on some level and the opportunity for reflection and re-awakening MAY follow.

    This is of course, completely contrary to the “play it safe” strategy which is both pragmatic and reasonable- but in the end not very interesting.

    In the end, the lesson is- take risk.

    Very good to hear from you.


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