Hey Asshole, get out of your car!

One sure-fire way for me to channel my inner asshole is to drive. Clearly, I possess the skills of Mario Andretti (I don’t really know who that is but you probably do sense he was a good driver, yay pop culture) and the rest of you are simply obstacles in my way. I rage at the poor driving skills, the lack of signalling, failure to yield to pedestrians and outright ignorance of proper behaviour at four-way intersections.

Big Loud Mean Voice (BLMV): HEY! I’m on the right, you didn’t get here first! <insert stream of profanities even I won’t post>

Sometimes my window is down, I have no shame. I am a parody of an angry driver. Worse yet, I am a nervous passenger who tramps on imaginary pedals, winces, sighs and is generally unpleasant. I try to hide this from my friends but my beloved partner knows all too well my shortcomings, the facade, once broken, is hard to repair. This, my friends, is the epitome of asshole behaviour I try to mitigate against.

These bad habits are so ingrained, one of the only successful methods I have for changing is to get out of the car all together. I started walking, almost everywhere. The first thing I noticed is that it only took me an extra 20 minutes to get to work. Traffic at rush hour makes the 5 minute drive 15 and since I’ve been walking I’ve even gotten a bit faster, although, even now, I saunter along at a 4km/hr pace.

Suddenly I had time to ramp up for work while going through the park. People smile at me. I know the guy at the Horton’s near the tracks will ask me for change only on the way home, he knows I never leave the house with cash. I see the window displays in the boutiques, I smell the bread baking, bacon frying. I am in the moment and I am ok. Feeling lonely? I pop in my ear buds and call my grandmother or sister or parents and chat about the weather. I never seemed to have the time to call often before. Now, there’s a whole hour a day up for grabs and my extended family is scheduling themselves accordingly. It puts me in a better mood. I still get a flash of anger when splashed by the bus or nudged by a car that didn’t “see” me walking, in a cross walk, with the light.

BLMV: Hey! I pay taxes! yield, you’re supposed to YIELD!

I live in a city and close to work so this makes walking an easy choice. I also moved closer to where both my partner and I work, the extra cost of rent is nothing compared to the cost of paying for parking for either of us or a second car. The moments of mindfulness, living in the moment, have really enhanced my wellbeing.

Now I have my whole family onboard with walking more. On the weekends we walk to the movies, brunch at our favourite restaurant and shop at all the awesome nerdy places, like the comic book store. We play “parallel world” trivia (Imagine a world where dinosaurs are the ruling species. What food do humans eat on their birthdays? Defend) We laugh, we wrestle. I’m a lot less grumpy when I don’t have to look for parking. Such a small thing has a huge impact on my well-being, my budget, my family life and the environment.

What change have you done that had unexpected benefits?