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From road rage to budget impasses, how come we're all so angry?
Some thoughts collected between here and Maine

  Richard Amrhine's archive
  E-mail Richard Amrhine
Date published: 7/16/2006


AS WE NEARED my sister's home in a pleasant New Jersey suburb of New York City, I drove relatively slowly to avoid missing the left-hand turn onto her street. We get up there only once every year or two. Despite the Virginia tags that labeled us out-of-towners, the driver to my rear was unsympathetic and chose to tailgate our jam-packed minivan. As I made my turn he blew his horn, and I glanced to the right to see him bark some choice words, I'm sure, through his window and present the usual obscene gesture.

Having already driven some seven hours that day--the next-to-last leg of a vacation trip that took us to Maine--I was more or less numb to this one-sided incidence of road rage.

But for some reason it has stayed with me because it showed such an utter lack of patience for an obvious situation of a visitor trying to find his way. This driver was provoked, after no longer than a minute or two, at having to drive a few miles per hour under the speed limit along a tree-lined street with only one lane in each direction. I fear for the poor soul who accidentally cuts him off.

It is hardly fair to draw conclusions from the actions of one idiot driver in New Jersey, but it would seem to add to the pile of evidence that America is in serious need of a course in anger management.

Workplace shootings seem to be a weekly occurrence, and some morons apparently believe that running their vehicles into crowds of people offers a solution to their problems.

Lawmakers in Virginia and the aforementioned New Jersey faced historically contentious budget showdowns this year. As we traveled through New Jersey, highway signs flashed the news that state parks and other services were being shut down as of July 1. (In New Jersey, oddly enough, it was Democrats, who control the legislature, who were steadfastly against a sales-tax increase proposed by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine to help close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. After a weeklong shutdown, the governor got his penny increase on the sales-tax--from 6 percent to 7 percent.)

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