Vail Daily column: Forget it and drive on
When my Dad’s car was rear-ended just about every member of my family wondered the same thing, “Did Dad provoke the accident?”
Dad was an angry guy, especially behind the wheel. He applied the football maxim “the best defense is a good offense” to his driving. Long before the term “road rage” entered the American lexicon my father was gesticulating and spewing inventive epithets at his fellow drivers as we kids sat silently in the back seat of our Dodge station wagon.
In trying to locate the source of our father’s anger we variously blamed his upbringing in New York City, the Vietnam War and the U.S. Army. But the chance discovery in his high school yearbook of his boyhood moniker, “Fierce Pearse,” indicated his anger was deeply rooted and present from an early age.
When the running craze hit America in the 1970s, my dad embraced it and did not let go until a few months before his death. Hundreds of trophies, medals and ribbons from 10Ks to marathons attest to a dedication to the sport that spanned more than four decades. He was still angry, but perhaps less so for having that physical outlet.
When I was a kid my Dad seemed to me to be an outlier — an extremely angry man in a world of generally more even-tempered people. Today, however, my father’s affliction seems more widespread. A recent Vail Daily article reported a road rage incident on Interstate 70 that culminated in shots being fired and drivers taken into custody. Even in our beautiful, laid-back corner of the world people managed to drag ugliness into it. Lest you think I am blaming out-of-towners, consider that I have been flipped-off, tailgated and had motorcycles pass me on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 6. Luckily these were isolated incidents, but I doubt they were all visitors.
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There is no shortage of anger these days, and frankly many of the reasons for this anger are valid — stagnant wages, rising costs, diminished opportunities, crumbling infrastructure, political gridlock and many other issues enrage people. Some of this anger could correctly be considered righteous anger at injustice, unfairness and corruption. But where to appropriately channel this anger? Unleashing anger at other motorists seems both inappropriate and ineffectual.
As the youngest of seven, I can say that neither my siblings nor I are carbon copies of Dad. But he left his mark on each one of us. My brother Danny turned out the exact opposite of my father and is a totally mellow, unflappable dude. On the other hand, I am a hothead. In my defense, I at least recognize I have a problem and have attempted to mitigate it. I have flunked-out of numerous Deepak Chopra online meditation programs. And while I appreciate the power of deep breathing exercises, frankly, deep breathing is the last thing I remember to do when I get really angry.
There is, however, one thing I have never forgotten — it is the acronym FIDO. Brought to you by the same acronym-prone organization that spawned FUBAR and SNAFU, the DOD, comes the less famous but no less useful acronym FIDO. I learned this acronym from decorated Marine, Vietnam veteran and Wounded Warrior Cleave McCleary. FIDO stands for “forget it, and drive on.” It is a versatile acronym that can apply to more than just driving. Give your heart and your sanity a break. Sure, care about, even get angry about things. Just not too many things. Pick your battles, as they say. For everything else, FIDO.
Claire Noble is the author of “State-Sponsored Sex and Other Tales of International Misadventure.” She can be found online at clairenoble.org or follow her on Twitter @thewriteclaire.
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