By BEN GRABOW
Scripps Howard News Service
June 25, 2006
A new study suggests that when I beat my head on the steering wheel and tear chunks of upholstery from the passenger seat to throw at an idiotic motorist, it is due to "Intermittent Explosive Disorder." The disorder is characterized by multiple angry outbursts that are out of scope with the situation, and it's estimated that 16 million Americans are afflicted.
Road rage is considered one such outburst. And I will not pretend that I do not occasionally express rage on the road.
If you cut me off in traffic, I will make elaborate offensive gestures at your car that sometimes require both hands or even a foot. Through my open window, I may loudly question the nature of your relationship with a maternal figure or specific barnyard animal. I might even remove my headrest and bang it against the dashboard while foaming at the mouth.
But this is not a rage disorder. This is, if anything, a healthy rage. And this is America, so the real disorder must belong to someone else.
The real disorder here is the intense stupidity of other people.
What we need is a scientific study that explains behavior such as driving at 20 below the speed limit for a half hour, then standing on the accelerator as soon as there is room enough to pass. We need an examination of people who lunge into parking spaces, as though the waiting car's turn signal is an invitation.
Surely, these people could not have earned a driver's license or navigated the bureaucracy of a Department of Motor Vehicles while being so droolingly stupid. Without some capacity for coherent thought, they could not hold down the job that pays the salary that fills the gas tank of the massive SUV driving in both lanes.
The only possible explanation for such astonishing idiocy, then, is a kind of stupidity that shows up only once in a while. It must be some kind of sudden, violent stupidity, triggered by car exhaust or commercial radio. It could only be "Intermittent Explosive Stupidity Disorder."
IESD applies not only to the motorist who jumps on the brakes in the fast lane. People who choose not to shower for three days before using the neighboring treadmill could also be afflicted. As could individuals who cannot order coffee without simultaneously having a cell phone conference call.
If Intermittent Explosive Disorder were the real issue, baristas would be flinging skinny 2-pump hazelnut lattes across the counter and gym patrons would be assaulting each other with bars of soap and spray deodorant. But most of the time, we manage to contain ourselves.
Meanwhile, Explosive Stupidity runs rampant. And while such stupidity is not exclusive to the road, the disregard for both traffic laws and physics at 80 miles per hour is significantly more dangerous than poor gym hygiene. So is it any wonder that idiotic behavior on the highway inspires spasms of rage? It's not a disorder. It's the only reasonable response.
So, when I bear down on you in my little four-cylinder Honda, gesturing wildly with both hands to speed up or get over, don't worry about my well-being. Worry about the possibility of a stupidity disorder affecting far more than 16 million Americans.
And for my upholstery's sake, get out of the way. Goat lover.
Contact him at thinlyread(at)gmail.com.
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