This week I was in Chicago for an RCT workshop and the extreme traffic I encountered was a daily reminder in perception checking. I trust that I am not alone in suffering from an occasional bout of “road rage” so maybe some of you will recognize yourselves in these words.

First of all, I grew up in a town of 350 people. Yes, three hundred and fifty people. No additional zeros, no thousand to add at the end of that number. Just three hundred fifty people. I’m pretty sure there were more than 350 people staying in my hotel!

Chicago has a population of approximately 2.7 million people. The third largest city in the USA. The Chicago metro area is home to over 9 million people (at least that is what the internet says and we all know that everything on the internet is true).

Now, many people in the Chicago metro area utilize their numerous modes of public transportation (Chicago Transit Authority’s buses and “L” and subway systems, Metra, Pace, Amtrak, taxis, etc.). However, many more people are behind the wheel of their own vehicles. Driving in Chicago was interesting every day. Especially since I found myself trying to drive during what is typical “rush hour” traffic.

Although, the rush “hour” seemed to last more like 3 hours. At any rate, I regularly witnessed things like cars getting cut off; cars blocking intersections; horns blasting; and, lane changes with little regard for who might be in the way. It would be easy to assume people are just being rude and selfish. I promise you those were thoughts running through my head as I gripped the steering wheel tighter and blurted out my angry words. It took some effort to coach myself into believing it is possible that that (jerk) person who just swerved changed lanes swiftly in front of me might be (completely self absorbed) in a hurry to see his kid before bedtime.

It got easier with every car horn blared in my direction to realize that those of us causing another driver some angst aren’t (always) doing so on purpose. Check those perceptions – in at least a couple of different ways. We small town girls driving in the big city will appreciate it.

Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty