There’s atleast one instance each day where I find myself attempting to understand other people’s thoughts and actions.
I’ve found out, through multiple self assessments and personality tests, that I’m the type of person to analyze other people, particularly in the sense of attempting to uncover what makes their inner workings tick. Why do they react the way they do, and what provokes them?
You can call me a judgmental person, but honestly, when I observe an individual I don’t necessarily judge them, I try to understand their (sometimes semi-retarded) thinking.
I’m my experience, people normally react differently in situations than I would choose to react, whether consciously or subconsciously. I’m not saying that how I act is always right, it isn’t, but I definitely have a different approach to handling situations than the people I come into contact with. I think this radical difference between myself and others, is the root cause of my overwhelming interest.
For instance, this past Thursday, while running late for work (yet again) I found myself behind a pick up truck cruising past an elementary school at a whopping 20 mph. First, let me explain to you how frustrated it makes me when people drive at, or below, the speed limit. In my opinion, the posted speed limit is a suggestion. Usually, I’d say 5-12 mph above the speed limit should not only be acceptable, it should be legal and preferred by all drivers. Anyway, back to my story. As I’m driving behind this fella, I realize that I only have five minutes to get to my bus stop before my ridiculously punctual driver leaves two minutes early for NYC. This presents a real problem because if I miss this bus, there are none after it. Once the situation is understood, I proceed to tailgate the man in front of me, hinting that he is driving too slow for my liking. Since we are now way past the elementary school and the orange-vested crossing guards, I would expect the driver to pick up the pace a bit. Not surprisingly, he stares at me in his rear view mirror and I can see the menacing glare in his shadowy eyes.
What happens next is the fascinating part. The driver looks away from his mirror and hits his breaks. Now, I can totally understand slamming on the breaks if you are driving at or above the speed limit, and someone is annoyingly riding your ass. But, when the speed limit is 35 and you are going 28, why shouldn’t other drivers ride on top of you? It should be perfectly acceptable to tailgate a person who is driving below the speed limit. The close proximity ought to wake them up, and maybe they would realize what speed they were going, instead of drifting off into la la land and staring at the blossoming cherry trees on the side of the road.
The part of the story that doesn’t make sense is when the man initially decides to slow down. I’d like to know the point of making someone else, particularly a stranger, purposefully mad or frustrated. If this driver had one speck of brain cells in his mind, which I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he did, then he knew the speed limit and he knew he was traveling below it. The only point of slowing down even more was to make me angry. He knew I had somewhere to be, and he wanted me to succumb to his driving preferences for the sole purpose of defining his power on this one-lane street.
My understanding of humans in this particular case: some people get joy out of making others believe they are in a position of power, where only they can make the decisions, and all others must follow without question. If people considered others as equals, and empathized more, than we could avoid many instances like this one.