There are two kinds of people I keep myself distant from- the weak and the clueless.

Make no mistake, I like people, I even love some of them. But there is also the other end of the spectrum.

I have never hated anyone. It has always seemed too much trouble, besides being a pointless waste of precious energy. I just ‘disconnect’ them. No, that is not right. What I ‘disconnect’ is my awareness of their existence. Its like, I don’t know they exist. Then I never have to deal with them in anyway. It works for me. I find it rather neat in a macabre sort of a way.

The ability to ‘disconnect’ is essential for me. It is a protection mechanism, thus ensuring survival. You see, the one thing I discovered in the past few years is that you need to learn how to apply the principles of being a good driver to your own life.

If you are a good driver, you will drive carefully so that you don’t land yourself in a ditch. Being careful yourself is not enough though. In addition to that,  you must also have the reflexes and the sense to protect yourself from the bad driving of other people.

If a bad driver causes you to go off the road, land in a ditch and break your rear-axel, it wont do you an earthly bit of good to shout after him and fling some potent F-bombs after him. They will never reach him. You have a five mile long trek in front of you, you didn’t have any lunch and night is coming on. That is a non-negotiable fact. Unalterable and in- your- face true.

Mostly, bad- drivers- who land- others- in- a- ditch get off scot free. There is not even a rattled window frame in their own car to show for their lousy driving. This might tempt you to conclude that the universe is a malevolent, cruel jester. It certainly comforts one to think that way. Unfortunately though, that theory never held water in the long term. Dark Empty Road1

They continue on their way blithely, these bad drivers, breezing along the highway, singing off-tune, distinctly ribald songs. While you are compelled to keep a sharp eye out for predators on that lonely stretch of road and wonder why your feet have three kilos of weight tied to them each; they are sitting with friends/ family tucking into a piping hot dinner.

Sometimes, though rarely, your darkly muttered curses do give them a flat tire a few miles down the road. That flat tire wont do you any good.  It will still not cut down on the five miles you have to walk in the darkening gloom- on an empty stomach.

Bottom line is: You have a five mile stretch to walk… for no fault of your own.

If that bad driver is the clueless category, his paradigm will be, “Oh, but I didn’t know my driving like that is going to force you into a ditch..! Honest, I didn’t know..!!” This will be accompanied with a injured, self-justified look of amazement. For all the world they’ll behave like a kitten who is being sentenced to the guillotine for doing what kittens do- play with a ball of wool and get it hopelessly tangled. Don’t you know how kittens look at you when they’ve done that and you try to scold them? Yeah, that look.

If that bad driver is the weak category, his paradigm will be, “Yes I know I promised you I’ll drive carefully but when the rubber hit the road (sic), I just couldn’t keep my promise. I don’t know how to say sorry to you now…” This will be accompanied with a guiltily furtive look, at once abashed and obscurely pleased. Imagine a kitten who has faithfully promised to guard- with its life- a bowl of cream. I don’t have to tell you the rest of the story, do I…? It is self-evident, I am sure.

Does it matter whether the driver was clueless or just too weak to honor a promise? The five mile trek is still irrevocably yours to walk, isn’t it? And if you get eaten by a tiger mid-way (shrug), too bad for you. At best, the weak will feel rather guilty for the space of three minutes. The clueless, of course, will never know you have departed for a better world. Which is all rather perfect, is it not?

So what does one do? My solutions are rather simple:

1. I keep reminding myself that the clueless and the weak are just lurking out there. The reminder keeps me on my toes and I am vigilant to protect myself from their bad driving.

2. I don’t believe in a promise until I see it translated into action. My mother used to say, “Talk is cheap” and I agree with her. Moreover they say ‘What you DO speaks so loudly in my ear that cannot hear what you SAY’. I agree with that even more.

3. Each time I see a speeding driver coming at me from the opposite side, I get off the road and stop my car, waiting for him to pass me by.

4. Despite my vigilance, if I AM forced off the road, I begin my trek with a burning torch in my hand… to protect me from tigers.

5. While on the trek, I focus on the beauty of the night and the brilliance of the stars. I let the muted night sounds soothe me and the balmy breeze play with my hair. I make a conscious effort to enjoy the walk.

I don’t stop going out on the road. I don’t assume all drivers I meet on the road are out to ‘get my blood (rear-axel)’. I don’t get myself over-wrought at the thought of the five mile trek and convert it into a fifteen mile trek in my head. I also don’t assume a peaceful country-side is infested with tigers. We ARE running out of tigers. I believe there are only 1706 of them left in India.

These are the things I do. What about you..?