Pages

Sunday, July 25, 2010

People Rage

Ever run late to catch an airplane? You’re careening through airport corridors, stomping your foot impatiently at a family of seven in front of you in the security line, hurdling two senior citizens on your way to Boarding Gate Z, waving your ticket in the impassive faces of airport personnel, and are just managing to climb over the obese guy in the aisle seat when the captain comes on and informs everyone that “due to a problem on the runway, the flight will be delayed. Please stand by.” Makes you want to punch someone.
Now, imagine feeling like that every day. In every line. Every time you step one foot outside to go anywhere.

This is what I call people rage: it is the impulse to shove senior citizens through doorways, kick small children off sidewalks, and push tourists down escalators. Basically, anyone obstructing me from getting to my destination qualifies as a target of my rage. Teenagers walking three abreast should know better than to take up the entire sidewalk. NYC is not one giant game of red-rover! And overly large umbrellas should be banned in crowded cities. I don’t want my eyeballs poked out just because some lady needs to preserve her hairdo. God forbid that same woman starts down the subway stairs in front of me, wobbling on her 3-inch stilettos while yapping away on her cell phone. Someday I am going to snatch one of those things from someone and shove it up their rear end.

One thing is for sure: I am not alone. Just stand in Grand Central station for five minutes at the beginning or end of any workday, and you’ll see thousands of people who operate exactly like I have just described. Watch people catch the subway home. A lesson I learned while living in Queens is that a subway car is never too full; you just have to be willing to elbow your way in and endure standing on top of someone’s toes while smelling another person’s greasy hair for the duration of your commute.

Shared or not, my newfound aggression kind of scares me. I was terrible at basketball because I never “got angry,” and now I’m fantasizing about punching grown men who stand obtrusively on the left-hand side of the escalator (which, for those of you who don’t know, is the “passing lane;” the purpose is to leave it clear for those people who treat escalators as speed enhancers rather than as a carnival ride). Is this the product of living in a city packed with 19,000,000 other people? A form of “survival of the fittest?” Or is it a character trait that has finally surfaced, thanks to a few environmental prompts?

I try to tell myself that there’s no reason for such a big hurry. So what if I miss my train? Another one will come (even thought I will probably have to wait at least 20 minutes, knowing my luck). Life will not grind to a screeching halt if I am five minutes late getting somewhere. (Except in airports—then things get a bit trickier.) Arriving at the gym at 4:55 will not make me any healthier than if I arrive at 5:00, and getting out of the grocery store three minutes faster will do nothing but put me back in my insanely hot apartment sooner. So why, when stuck behind a meandering couple on the sidewalk, do I huff impatiently to myself and step out onto the street?

There is one scarier thought: is this an irreversible change? If I move to the suburbs, will I eventually end up in the news as the lady driver who pulled a Colt .45 on the guy in the pickup truck who cut her off at the traffic light?

So far, the most I’ve done is accidentally bump an old lady with my bicycle on a subway staircase. In typical “enraged” fashion, she cussed me out. I apologized. She ignored me and kept ranting. (But I’d rather have jumped on my bicycle and driven right over her!)

3 comments:

Kristina said...

I'm quite familiar with this, unfortunately. I think it comes from living in New York for a long time: after a while, you start to feel like a New Yorker yourself. Suddenly, every slow-moving man in khakis and a Hawaiian-print hat is a tourist bent on making you late for everything. The person swiping into the subway before you who has to try 10 different cards before she finds one with money on it... those are the people who make me rage, personally.

(I really liked this post!)

Colleen said...

Ha! I feel like that all the time. I have worked hard on telling myself that it's ok and that I'm already late, so getting upset about it isn't going to help. Because, yes, I am always late.

Daniel said...

This is what I call people rage: it is the impulse to shove senior citizens through doorways, kick small children off sidewalks, and push tourists down escalators. Basically, anyone obstructing me from getting to my destination qualifies as a target of my rage.

I know someone you should talk to...