When Our Frustration Gets the Better of Us

By Amy Dickinson | September 27th, 2017

Road Rage

Dear Amy: I just got back from shopping at a big box store. This was after a long week of work, so I was already tired.

In the store, people were pushing the too-big carts around, banging their carts off of each other, and all the while talking loudly on their cellphones. There were long lines at the checkout, and there was a price issue with one of my items.

When I finally went to my car, I found the car next to me had pulled in so close to my car that I hardly had any room to get into my car and unload my groceries. In frustration, I banged open my door, leaving a nick in the side of their car.

I feel terribly that I did that and wonder if it was a sign of my stress and impatience, or was this a character flaw, and perhaps I’m really not the nice person people think I am?

– Wondering

Dear Wondering: Surely you have noticed how sometimes in busy parking lots, one person parking off kilter can throw off the whole line, as people compensate – and perhaps overcompensate – as they pull into a space.

Human nature runs on a similar dynamic. You were having a bad day, so you deliberately gave someone else a bad day. And the person with the damaged car might have gone home and given his kids a bad day.

I think you probably ARE the nice person others think you are. And yes, you are also flawed, just like the rest of us.

Make this right by giving yourself – and everybody within a five-mile radius – a big break. Every person out there has a story, even those playing bumper cars at the big box store. Take a breath. Be gentle. And the next time you are having a great day, spread that around.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers.

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