Saturday, May 24, 2008

Road Rage ( to protect your low back in a car!)

I am a good driver. Sure, I get a little distracted at times, what with phone calls and speed limits and music selection and other drivers... but I've mastered the basics and I know the deceleratrix from the velocitator. I'm accident free since the last one, and I think that record speaks for itself. More important, I'm a NICE driver. I don't rush since I'm always JUST on time anyway (depending on the grace period), I always signal, and I do the head bob AND the wave to thank people for letting me in front of them.

I am alarmed, however, at the way that human behaviour mutates when perched on four wheels - we become so brave and indignant! Cut someone off on foot and you'll likely hear 'hey! watch it!' (cut off someone's foot - whole different reaction). But behind a windshield, even the most mild-mannered kindergarten teacher is spewing profanities and cursing your existence. IT WAS MY TURN TO GO THROUGH THE STOP!!! STUPID &^#$*&%!!

People, why are we so angry? Why the need for asterisks* & ampersands? Why do we spread such negativity? Why do we become so self-righteous when automobiling that we are outraged when our fellow motorist makes an error? Especially, and this matters, one that DOESN'T HARM YOUR BODY OR YOUR VEHICLE?

I'd like to expound on this last point. Why do we get so mad at being 'almost hit'? Should we not instead thank our lucky stars/chosen deity that we were not, in fact, in a collision? Be grateful for intact reflexes and good road conditions? BUT SHE PULLED OUT AND WE BOTH HIT THE BRAKES HARD AND THEN NOTHING HAPPENED! Really, does this require an extension of the third metacarpal?

Since you are all dying to read my story: I'm driving north of Steeles, and since I misunderestimate the traffic in Northern Ontario, I'm of course late(ish. It is always relative). I attempt to make a right from a designated right exit lane, only to find that the road is closed (perhaps due to a snow storm? I was north of Hwy 7). I must get back into the flow of traffic heading north, so I signal and edge my way in. It gets a little fuzzy here, I don't recall cutting anyone off, certainly there were no screeching tires and I didn't see my life flash before me so I wasn't aware of a near collision - I was just trying to get back into the flow of traffic. I end up behind a car, who slows down to 40. In a 70 zone. Is she confused? Frightened? Is this the custom among the suburbanites? I muster up empathy and deliver respectful tiny toots of the horn to nudge her along. No, this is DELIBERATE. I'm being punished!! For... oh my goodness, does she think that my right hand lane diversion was an attempt to skirt traffic? I'm mortified! I pull around her (she is driving 40, people!) and we have a chance to chat at a light. I'll explain, she'll understand. Hell, if I wasn't late (and driving) we could become friends and laugh about it over drinks!

She is incensed, because I 'almost hit her'.
I don't even recall this near collision! I'm also amazed at the coincidence of (nearly!) running into Northern Ontario's best driver - what are her secrets for never having made a driving error herself? I explain what happened to the vigilante, and suggest that in the interest of preventing motor vehicle accidents, perhaps punishing me by driving 40km/hr was not so safe either, to which she replied, "I can do whatever I want".

And this, I think, is the lesson.

You most certainly can do whatever you want, Lady. We all can.
I want to be a calm, kind, albeit imperfect driver. I want to try to understand that the person who cut me off (insult of insults!) probably did it unintentionally. Maybe they were running late to a job interview, perhaps they just received bad news, or maybe they are just an a$$. But I want to be grateful for all the near-misses, and I want to try to be a more perfect person, if not a perfect driver.
You do whatever you want.

NOW that we all feel better! Let's talk about your lumbar spine while driving.
The secret is preserving the lumbar lordosis, the curve in the small of your back. Most car seats allow you to become 'C'-shaped, causing the low back muscles to tighten up, and putting your discs in a wedged and dangerous position. The solution is to maintain the normal curve - pump up your lumbar support if the car has it, use an ObusForme or other low back support, or in a pinch, put a small pillow or balled up t-shirt in the small of your low back. Also, remove your wallet from your back pocket - sitting on it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and will unlevel your pelvis - sure to cause low back pain when driving.

Drive safely and NICELY, everyone!

*wonderful glyph, even better pluralized - say it!

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