Okay. I don’t think this actually constitutes as road rage.
But all I can say is: one minute I’m driving down a one-way road—there’s no sign but it’s definitely one-way, I know—and the next minute this lady in a van—blonde hair, like all the mean girls you see in teen dramas—comes head-to-head with me and suddenly, I have entered a game of chicken. You know, like from Footloose. She’s going the wrong way on a one-way road. Like a criminal. I’m staring at the front of her car.
I’m not about to face down her soccer-mom van with my grandpa’s sedan. So, already spitting expletives, I put my car in reverse and inch back. However, I haven’t had caffeine yet so my steering skills are not so sharp. Otherwise, I’m a pro.
I creep into a brambly bush. Branches scrape my car. Expletives abound. Blonde Soccer Mom glides past me. Smiles. Wiggles fingers at me in a wave. The nerve.
Rarely do I feel such strong emotion. I shout at her to do something anatomically impossible. It’s like I’m possessed.
Then the moment passes. I decompress. I’m fine. Probably shouldn’t have freaked out so much. Funny, how we curate our emotions because of social expectations or decorum, or simply because we’re behind the wheel.
Back when I used to go horseback riding, I would worry that the horse would get spooked. So my riding instructor said:
“If you feel nervous, the horse will sense your nervousness and feel nervous too. You need to relax.”
Horseback riding wasn’t just a physical exercise. It involved emotional discipline. I had to temper how I felt in order to make it work. Similarly, in a past blog post where I wrote about being a hostess at a pub n’ grill, I learned how to project certain emotions and stifle other emotions to accommodate the job role and environment (read: customer service).
“Restaurant work involves emotional labor, or ‘the expectation that a worker should manipulate either her actual feelings or the appearance of her feelings in order to satisfy the perceived requirements of her job.’*”
Although in that blog post I frame emotional labor as a good thing, the idea of emotion work still doesn’t sound nice. It sounds insincere. Like suppression. When is it ever good to regulate how you naturally feel? (Besides horseback riding, of course.)
But then I realized I was confusing emotional labor with self-control. The Bible talks a lot about how important it is to control yourself. Proverbs 25:28 says:
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
Damn. In the case of road rage—or whatever lightweight form of road-related rage that manifested in me—holding back, biting the tongue, and drowning out
murderous angry thoughts is not manipulating emotions. It’s controlling them.
You can be in touch with your emotions, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed by them. We can deny our hostile tendencies and seek a more disciplined emotionality. That’s not manipulation. That’s fostering an attitude which glorifies God.
So, perhaps, next time, maybe less expletives.
*Hackman, Rose. “‘Women Are Just Better at This Stuff’: Is Emotional Labor Feminism’s next Frontier?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Nov. 2015. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.