On the frailty of traffic jams - Ed Brock

There is a rule of interstate travel.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam on the interstate, it will last until you get to the next exit that would allow you to escape, at which point traffic will begin to flow freely. Also, there will always be an exit at or near the beginning of the jam that you won't take because you will decide it'll probably clear up and the side roads will be just as bad.

Sitting in a holiday traffic cluster just north of Montgomery this weekend, I had time to realize this rule as I repeatedly cursed and spat out "Should've taken that first &*$@! exit."

My wife, by the way, is vowing never to ride in a car with me because I have a habit of, shall we say, expressing my frustration with the utter incompetence of every other driver on the road and with things beyond my control, such as traffic jams.

But it's the things I can't control that I find most frustrating. Isn't that true for many of you? After all, if it's something I can control, then I'll control it and my frustration will be cured.

If it rains, I'll turn on the windshield wipers so I can see. If the tire blows, I'll change it.

But if some chucklehead wipes out on the highway during the busiest travel day of the year forcing thousands of others to crawl along at 5 mph with no end in sight, there's nothing I can do about that except scream. Or take the first exit.

I guess that's just something I have to work on. Coping with the frustration of not being in control. After all, there's a great deal of life that is beyond our control.

That's where religion has a certain appeal. People with faith, when faced by a situation that is beyond their control, simply "Give it up to the Lord."

The down side of that approach is some people may give up too much to the Lord. They fail to take action when they can and instead just pray for a miracle. The extreme version of that has led some people to refuse medical treatment for their children and to pray for God to cure a disease that is well within the power of man to cure.

Those people should memorize the Russian proverb "Pray to God, but continue to row for shore." I think most religious people do.

Unfortunately, I'm "faith impaired." I have a hard time thinking somebody or something else will just take care of things if I can't. And I would never think to invoke the Supreme Being to part the traffic jam and set his people free.

That's just too cliched and I don't think God likes people who pray in cliches. If you want his attention you should pray for something original, like "Could you put my hands on backward so I can scratch my back better."

Well, maybe that's not so original. Anyway, back to the point.

Things get beyond my control, and what can I do? Perhaps I'll try the whole "Just take a deep breath and count to 10" approach.

It's just that when I've done that before I end up with 10 seconds more of anger and frustration to vent. Maybe I should count to 20.

I'll work on it.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .