Why rage is all the, er, rage
Mad’ is in the air everywhere I look. A litany of recent casual anger: traversing a pedestrian crossing, with a green light, I was nearly flattened by a taxi. I shook my head and tutted as the driver braked. ‘Get a life!’ I heard him shout when I’d gone across. I looked around. He had rolled his window down — ‘Get a life,’ he repeated. The anger shot up through me and I went back. ‘What did you say?’ I spat, gearing up for a fight. He repeated his insult. ‘WHAT? You nearly ran into me,’ I batted back, indignant. Shouldn’t he have been apologising, not giving me lip? And ‘get a life’ — what stupid lip: the adult equivalent of a kid saying ‘you smell’ to another kid, an insipid Americanism off the telly. What about a proper Irish-style insult?
‘May your morning turn to night, your cornflakes to clay, may everything bad fall upon you today, and then get worse... slurry head!’ At least a bit of native poetry; that I could easily retort to: ‘Oh aye, well, may your taxi turn into a cankerlegged ass, as ugly as your face, and may your wallet be ever more empty as the head of an amadán. ‘Get a life’, feck’s sake. What is this — Ireland, or an episode of iCarly? Basically, what I’m saying is: I couldn’t think up a retort, which made me even madder. The lights changed and off he drove with a smug look on his face that said, ‘I win!’ Leaving me with heart pumping — a raging eejit in the fug of his exhaust fumes.
Then more road rage: my friend Sue told me of the shock she got when, stopped at lights, she heard an aggressive banging on her car. She thought a mugger was trying to smash the window. Turned out it was a livid cyclist indicating that her wheels had strayed into the cycle path. ‘He looked like he wanted to punch me,’ she said. ‘I was genuinely afraid.’ She drives a people carrier full of kiddie car seats that, one, is so big she couldn’t avoid a bit of tyre spill and, two, has ‘parent with hands full’ written all over it, so surely the cyclist could have cut her some slack? But I’ve been that cyclist, too, raging at the obliviousness of the average Irish urban motorist to bike lanes or when it’s the cyclist’s right of way or when they’ve just nearly killed you. ‘F***’s sake, are you blind?’ I, too, find myself shouting (embarrassing when you catch the driver’s eye and realise ‘Oh look, it’s someone I know. From church.’
Then coffee: I was having an important meeting in a cool café. We asked for two coffees and
The cabbie drove off with a smug look on his face that said ‘I win!’, leaving me raging in the fug of his exhaust fumes
the barista informed us that ‘today’s coffee is from a smallholding in Guatemala, holding a unique flavour of mango and aroma of local undergrowth’ or whatever… ‘Jesus, it takes him longer to explain the coffee than to get it,’ the busy person I was with snipped, irritated. ‘Ah now, don’t be getting angry,’ I thought. ‘He’s only being nice.’ Till two rounds of the wrong coffees came our way. ‘Two flat whites?’ we were asked. ‘No, two long blacks.’ ‘Cappuccino, espresso?’ we were asked again, several minutes later. ‘No, two long blacks.’ ‘Oh, two long blacks?’ Then the server had the temerity to apologise — but confide that he was out till 3am the night before, and we ended up harrumphing about ‘service’ like grumpy fuddy-duddies, over our excellent eventual coffees.
Then men: I was out with friends and ended up in a protracted chat-up situation with an interesting American chap. ‘I’m an old man, Anne,’ he said at one point. He claimed to be over 60 but didn’t look a day over, say, 57 to me. I was processing the fact that what formerly seemed to me rather elderly is now within my flirt-constituency when he happened to put his hand on my body. ‘Oops,’ he said, ‘we need to lose a bit of weight!’ He was no skinny malink himself. Again, I wasn’t quick enough with a quip. Afterwards a friend said that I should have just leaned into him, tweaked a baggy under-eye and said, ‘Yeah, but I can lose the weight...’ Instead, I think I probably just said, ‘Yeah, I know. Amn’t I disgusting?’
Then my local gym: why do they play that awful loud music? It’s not a teen disco. And what’s with all the faddy exercise — people swinging iron balls around, grunting, gawking at themselves in the mirror, showing off? Why do I find myself wishing the lump of metal would accidentally crash into their knees, and that they end up screaming, ‘Argh, I’m crippled!’?
Then tracker mortgages: why didn’t I get one when I could? The ECB rate used to mean good news to me, too; now it just means I’d happily punch my bank manager if I met him.
Then the Joe Duffy show: still waiting for the day someone phones in and says, ‘Joe, just calling in to say I’ve no complaints. Everything’s great!’
And as you can see from the above, really, I have no complaints. Resolution: to stop being casually angry and project love where’er I go. Repeat to self: ‘I love other road users; I love all my fellow humans, even the numpties; I love my mortg… I love my mortga…’ It’s going to take a bit of work.