Look out Sheikh Zayed Road, Jenny Hewett is blowing off some steam.
Having manoeuvred Dubai’s main arteries for almost six years now, I am slightly ashamed to say that I have inherited an un-ladylike predisposition to road rage that is going to prove difficult to shake long-term. Before you start dialling the authorities understand that my behaviour is nowhere near the type that would warrant judicial interference. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. It’s come to the point now where every time I get into my car I morph into a potty-mouthed thug braced for combat. The heels come off and on goes the invisible sweary suit, complete with aggressive gesture mode.
In my defence, Dubai has to be high on the list of most stressful (not to mention dangerous) places to drive in the world, even for an extremely able driver. In saying that, for the most part I find the drive to and from work the most therapeutic time of my day. But it’s slightly disconcerting – even for someone lovingly nicknamed Viper from the onset of speech – the seamlessness with which I’m able to flip the crazy switch when a tailgater emerges at my rear.
As a road rager, I go through phases of irritability. I’m currently in the stage where any perceived wrongdoing on my part, no matter how inconsequential – a lane drift, a toot of the horn; literally anything – is an injustice and somewhere inside me is a traffic cop wanting to get out and restore civilian order. There are typically three go-to techniques I want to employ when pushed to the limit. Tapping the brake for tailgaters; a move that is both dangerous and irrational seems like a viable option some days. Speed demons flashing their lights usually get a ‘what for’ in the form of an undecipherable flail of the arms. Meanwhile, those driving slowly or erratically get the passing death stare. Nobody is safe.
As much of a kick as I get out of thinking about this, the utmost care does need to be taken not to offend my fellow commuters, so typically the least menacing and offensive the gesture the better. As alarming as this behaviour has been to the well-raised individual inside me, I’m far from the biggest rager on Sheikh Zayed Road. In a city where aggression and inexperience go hand in hand, it’s hard to lead by example. Until then, I might consider anger management classes or cruising to classical tunes.