Five Stages of Driver’s Grief

Bumper-to-bumper traffic at dusk on crowded Long Island Expressway at junction of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with Empire State Building in distant background.New York, NY, US.March 1969 © Time Inc.Ralph Crane

You are driving along and suddenly realize the car in front of you is going too slow. You reluctantly slow down. Then you go through the 5 Stages of Driver’s Grief:

  • Denial: You think there must be a reason for the slowdown, the car in front of you can’t just be going 15 miles under the speed limit in the passing lane for no reason. You are craning your neck trying to see what the problem is ahead. Seemingly there is no noticeable backup, construction, sunshine, rain, snow, meteorite shower or a traffic sign with scrolling text. You check if the driver in front of you fits any of the bad driver stereotypes. Old person? Woman? Asian? Talking on the phone? Eating a burrito? Getting a blowjob? I guess the latter is an OK excuse.
  • Anger: You start getting restless in your seat. The offender does not react to the mental arrows you are sending his way. You start imagining scenes from the movies where cars explode or get run over by a train. You are wishing all of this and more on the offender. Nothing short of bubonic plague is fit for the punishment. That and a case of crabs, and not the eating kind either.
  • Bargaining: You are trying to scheme your way out of this predicament. You promise yourself not to ever speed again if you can just pass this idiot. Maybe you will start listening to NPR if you could get around the car in front.
  • Depression: You realize that you are locked in behind that moron for a while. Other drivers conspired to not let you merge or pass. You are doomed to drive 55 mph all the way to St. Louis. You resign yourself to reading bumper stickers on his car and figuring out what kind of person would do that to you.
  • Acceptance: Finally there is an opening for you to pass or the jackass eventually takes the left exit. You look at the driver while you pass, slowly turning your head as your cars align. If only your eyes could drill a hole in their head. That’s the way Lenin used to look at the bourgeoisie (hint: Lenin hated the bourgeoisie). That person is not even worthy of your middle finger. You turn up the radio. Screw the NPR!