Monday, June 16, 2014

Like Babies on Airplanes

My son insisted that I buy this.  Remember these?  You can style the iron shavings as hair and beard with a magnet-tipped stylus.  It looked fun, so why not?  It wasn't until we got home that he told me why he wanted it - because he thought it looked like me.

I can't see what he's talking about.

My Mom says he's just like me.  Ha!  Joke's on you kid.  As I have mentioned before, I'm a terrible parent.  If you need proof, please refer to my upcoming parenting book.

Anyway, today is Fathers' Day.  Can you guess what I did to celebrate?  I bet you can.

When I ride my bike, I have thoughts.  Usually they are thought about bikes.  But sometimes they are thoughts about other things.

Today, I was thinking about why I get yelled at so much.  Not at work.  And only sometimes at home.  No, mostly I get yelled at in traffic. 

I don't think I deserve it.  Usually I am not doing anything particularly dangerous when I get yelled at.  Sometimes, I have made a mistake, but often, I'm just riding along.

I have often wondered why, but I think I have figured it out.  See, it's like babies on airplanes.  
No, not snakes on a plane
It's all about "triggers."  Basically, something in the present triggers an emotional response (in this case, anger) based upon an unpleasant experience in the past.  That's why, when people are boarding an airplane, they are already angry as soon as they see a baby.  Doesn't matter if the baby is laughing sweetly, sleeping, or shitting skittles.  The only thing the person can see is a baby and babies may cry on airplanes.  Therefore, the person is already angry before the baby has even cried.

What's your trigger here?
On a side note, as someone who has traveled with babies, if you are one of those people who is mad when you see a baby, fuck you.  The world isn't all about you. 

Anyway, people are amazing in their capacities for triggers.  In fact, we don't even need to have experienced the bad past event; it's enough if someone just tells us about an unpleasant event for our trigger to be put in place.  For instance, if you told me that at Cedar Point, there are many "line jumpers" who will get in line ahead of people alread waiting, I would be on the lookout for them next time I go.  And my pump would be primed - I'd be ready to get angry.

Photo from  Worth a browse.
And the same thing happens with bikes on the road.  Folks who have had bad experiences or have heard of others having bad experiences with bikes on the road are primed and ready to yell.  Even if the cyclist hasn't done anything or at least nothing that harmed anyone. My belief is that these "triggers" are compounded when one is driving - so many bad experiences over a long time can coalesce into permanent state of anger on the road.

Get out of the way! I'm trying to get these cookies to the open house while they're still hot!
Cyclists are not immune either - road rage is a two-way street.

What are your triggers?  Can you let go?  What if that mother with a baby on the plane is taking the child to meet his father, who has been stationed in Kuwait, for the first time?  Would that soften you?  Or if you knew that the mother was already exhausted and was flying to help move her mother into a rest home?  What if the guy you flicked off in traffic turned out to be your favorite elementary school teacher?

Beyond basic survival, triggers are just an unnecessary evolutionary vestage.  We don't need the extreme emotional response anymore - there are no saber-tooth tigers chasing you.  So let it go.  I'm examining myself to release some of my triggers.  What about you?

Go be brave, just do it calmly.  And don't yell at strangers. 

Your beer pairing:
Bell's Kalamazoo Stout: A good stout from one of my favorite breweries.

Mainly because, like the fuzzy face above, I have been told that I bear some similarity to the guy on the label.

1 comment:

  1. I've made it a personal goal of mine to give the finger less often to rude drivers. I've been mostly successful at it.