Georgina Guedes

Lose your temper, lose the battle

2012-07-05 11:55

Yesterday evening, on our way home from the park, I dropped my husband off at the shops to grab some supplies for our dinner, while I waited in the parked car with our two kids and dog.

Rush hour outside our local Spar and Woolies is always the cause of much traffic mayhem, and we were lucky to have found a legitimate spot in which to wait.

Soon after my husband left us, a minibus taxi came around the corner, its driver likewise looking for a place to park. He then executed a mindboggling series of umpteen-point turns to wedge his taxi into the non-existent space in front of me, so that it was protruding halfway across a lane of traffic.

This was a man who really knew where the edges of his car were, because despite parking me in with scant millimetres to spare, and adjusting his angle of parking a number of times, he didn't bump us once. Parking achieved, he exited his car, gave me a jaunty wave, and then began a heated conversation with his chinas on the side of the road.

I didn't object to his ludicrous act of driving for a number of reasons, the foremost of which being that he didn't leave the scene of the parking. I assumed that when my husband returned and we needed to exit our space, he would move his taxi.

He was also quite disarmingly cheerful about the whole thing, which goes a long way to defusing a potentially incendiary situation.

When my husband came back, the taxi driver immediately leapt into his car, moved forward to let us out and then reversed into our space once we had gone. We shared a smile and a wave as we drove off.

There had been a moment, quite early on in the proceedings, when a few concerns had surfaced. I was worried he was going to bump my car, I was concerned that he was going to leave me parked in and I was a bit affronted on behalf of the drivers who had to execute a wide arc to avoid the front of his vehicle.

But instead of resorting to the classic South African, taxi-driver-versus-the-rest-of-the-world rage, I let events unfold, and came away from the exchange feeling amused more than anything else.

I'm not always the most Zen of drivers. A horn-blaring, fist-shaking incident can leave me trembling and raging for an entire afternoon. There are instances of stupid driving that thinking about can still transport me to heart-pounding fury years later. “She was indicating that she was turning; that's why I pulled out in front of her!”

But on the occasions when I manage to keep my temper in check and let my sense of humour take over, I always come away feeling more relaxed and happy.

So while I'm certainly not sanctioning the reckless and dangerous driving of many of the idiots on our roads, I do always try to remind myself that when it doesn't really matter, just let it go. And I'm often pleasantly surprised at how agreeable driving can become when I manage to affect this attitude.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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