The Enemy Within
(Disclaimer: The following article does not express the view or opinions of this station.  It is merely a
therapeutic exercise in venting by the big bald guy with the vein sticking out of his temple.)

It’s Friday afternoon, 3:45 PM.  It hasn’t been a good day, but it’s been the last day of a week chock
full of work related stress.  All that should be behind me now as the engine rumbles to life.  In twenty
minutes, I’ll be at home with my family.  The weekend has officially commenced.  Five minutes later,
as I pull on to the road to carry me South, events are already unfolding to make sure my week-long
battle to fight off stress has one last gasp.  The traffic scurrying out of the parking lot at Plant 3 is
rushing to get out onto the street ahead of me.  As is usual, there is a run of about 5 cars at a time to
fill up an opportunity for about 3 cars to exit.  Not a problem, a quick downshift, signal, and twist of the
wheel and I’m in the other lane.  But try as I might, the gremlins of stress won’t let it go, and the yuppie-
looking Jeep with the driver clasping the cell phone to his ear starts to swap lanes in front of me
without signaling, only at the last minute spying the Firebird in his mirror and changing his mind.  Of
course, this moron is trying to multi-task in rush hour traffic… one of my very worst pet-peeves.  As I
pass I glance into the Jeep, and the pasty wannabe-man driver, cell phone still stuck to his ear, gives
me an angry look… and gives me the finger.

Society has made this sort of behavior all too commonplace.  Our lives have become so complicated
and the stresses that we encounter are too numerous to tally.  Maniacs come in all shapes and sizes,
from the person who’s ready to snap as a result of his boss’s tirades to the trustee in modern
chemistry that desperately needs a fix.  These are the ones who make life hell for the cashier at the
grocery store, or the car in front of them as they drive with their horns.   One would think that what
some of these people need is an attitude adjustment in the form of a good beating… I know I have
subscribed to that opinion more than once (see “jerk in a Jeep” reference above), but guess who’s
going to be held liable in a court of law?  That’s right, the guy that receives his long overdue
pummeling will probably end up suing you using one of the many attorney’s listed in the Yellow Pages
for just such an instance.  If you get carried away adjusting said pest, you might even be rewarded
with an all-expense paid stay at the not-quite-local penitentiary.  Well… so much for that option, huh?

This is why these finger-flipping foul-mouthed jackasses continue to do business in this manner,
because there is little or no threat of repercussions from the person receiving the gesture.  There is
also the feeling of safety and power in a car or worse, in one of the bus-sized SUV’s roaming the
roads.  I don’t know of anyone alive that doesn’t experience some sort of angst on a semi-regular
basis in what should seem like the most unlikely of places… places like the express checkout lane at
Wal-Mart, 20 items or less but the woman in front of you has 75 in the cart.  Oh but wait, there’s more!  
Now she wants to argue about being able to use a coupon for a quarter, get a price check, and then
wait until everything has been tallied before reaching for her checkbook to start writing… all the while
you’re standing there, waiting to buy a pack of gum.  Not there?  Well then how about bumper-to-
bumper traffic on Northbound K-15, right before the 135 exit, when there are cars in the exit lane for
as far as the eye can see?  Wait!  Here comes “Dick” in his smoke-spewing Dodge van to try and cut
in front of you across 2 lanes about 10 feet in front of the exit!  Sure, Pal… I was hoping someone’s
pile of junk would pull in front of me and choke me out for the next ½ mile!   Not there either?  How
about the nice, quiet suburban drive up your 2 lane road to work, when all of a sudden the woman in
the red Lincoln is riding your back bumper so closely that you can’t see her headlights.  Just when you’
ve about had your fill and think about slamming the brakes through the floor to turn her hoopty-car into
a subcompact, she passes you and jams on her own brakes.  Two miles later you understand why she
was in such a hurry, she had to get to McDonald’s and stuff her face before she fainted from hunger!!  
Still no?  How about the Sheriff’s officer that pulls you over on Rock Road and gives you a ticket for
changing lanes without signaling (grand total: $120) when you’re the only one who isn’t speeding!  
What the…???

What is wrong with people?  Or is it just me…?  I think that the toughest battle is sometimes within us
to walk (drive?) away when we’d MUCH rather ground and pound those around us.  

Pasty-girlie man in the Jeep would have been bad enough all by his lonesome, but when I hit the
brakes to invite him out of his vehicle to discuss matters, the guy behind me in a Chevy truck starts
honking his horn!  All I could see was the front plate on the truck, something about “Big Dog” or “Fat
Ass” or something… I was on the verge of having a stroke at this point and didn’t remember much.  
But SURELY this red-necked porker could have seen that I was in the middle of an aneurism and now
I was really, really wanting to have an impromptu session of Bull In The Ring right in the middle of
Webb Road.  I’m sure my impression of Yosemite Sam was never better than at that point in time.

Not very martial of me, huh?  I’ve often said that while I like to read and understand Lao Tzu, I am
genetically much more Tony Soprano.  I’m Italian, and carry the short-fuse gene that we’re so famous
for.  I’ve been lucky to actually avoid any sort of a real fight for almost 10 years now, but there are days
I think I’d feel much better if I ended that streak.  Unbecoming of a martial artist, yes?  No, it’s a matter-
of-fact unavoidable circumstance for a human being; and I am just as human and imperfect as they
come.  I work at a high-stress job with a total of one person on my staff that I trust.  My job is in
constant jeopardy as a result of perpetual budget strain, the car won’t quit leaking oil, the cable bill
keeps going up, the grass needs mowing every 3 days, the guy that owns the building where the
school is wants to raise the rent, the price of gas is going up, American’s are being killed senselessly
in the Middle East, the neighbor’s dog won’t shut up… my goodness, where does it end?

Well, although I tend to lose my cool often, most of the time I have a pretty good antidote to the poison
that is stress.  It’s 1 part humor, 1 part exercise, 1 part martial thinking and training, and 2 parts big-
picture point of view.  Couple that with “customer support” in the form of awesome family and friends,
and most of the time I’m just fine.  In case of emergency, break glass, grab remote, watch cartoons.

I let my sense of humor diffuse most situations that anger me.  If I had Harry Potter’s wand I’d surely
wear it out, suddenly stringing up high-tensile strength fishing line about 10 inches off of the floor in my
office door, so when my disgruntled guest leaves they’d have a nice trip and I’d have a nice laugh.  
The bozo in traffic would take time out to look in his rear view mirror to see a Grizzly in the back seat
of his car (where did that come from?).  Yeah, now that makes me smile.

My Friday drive ended with me pulling up in the driveway still smoldering even though my beautiful
wife was sitting on the porch waiting for me.  In the end, Pasty girlie cell-phone-in-the-Jeep man didn’t
want to play, he was trying to state his case but I couldn’t hear it over the Pork belly Boy’s horn.  After
changing lanes to deal with idiot #2, he evidently realized his error and refused to pull along side or
make eye contact, and seemed not to be in a hurry any more.  Without a proper means of venting
stress, I drove home thinking about pulling Pasty through is Saran-wrap Jeep window, feeding him his
cell phone and throwing him into oncoming traffic, and then turning my attention to the big pig in the
truck.  I gnashed my teeth all of the way home knowing that these two guys had gotten away with
enraging me, and in doing so they’d gotten the best of me.  My wife has known me 14 years now, and
knew as soon as I stepped out of the car that something had gone awry. I think that is what bothered
me most of all, having finally made it home and no smile to show her how happy I was to see her.  
Bless her heart, she and my little girl turned on some classic Looney Tunes.  It’s funny how Foghorn
Leghorn deals with his nemesis, the dog on the rope.  Maybe I’d feel better if I just took out Pasty’s
tongue out and painted it green (“Boy, I say Boy, put down that phone!”) and strolled away singing “oh
dah do dah day!”

One never knows when the guy he flips off just might be a flesh-and-blood nightmare just waiting to
happen, 225 pounds of potential killing machine, well tuned, well trained, but ill tempered and out of
balance at the moment.  Tonight before I go to bed, I’ll ask for forgiveness for my weakness in
character and lapse in judgment.  I really hate doing that, because it means that I acted in a manner
that I would not approve of in my own students.  I will then express thanks that the situation did not
escalate; God forbid I use the art improperly.

Just in case Pasty or Porky happen to stumble across this article… keep your *&$% in the stupid lane
and out of my way.  You might want to say a prayer of your own, expressing thanks that I didn’t go
Wolverine on you.  Piss me off again, and you might go home with a green tongue or a watermelon
smashed on your head.  (“Do dah!  Do dah!  Oh dah do dah daaaayy!!”)

Peace, love, and lots of high-tensile strength fishing line,
(No, seriously, God Bless!)
Cousin Vinny

PS.  Hey, it just dawned on me that Foghorn is a Rooster… just like the one on our crest…
coincidence?
PSS.  I feel MUCH better now.