Friday, October 23, 2009

My Own Personal Psychological Problem

Over the past several weeks I've had a handful of people tell me that I seem changed since my return from the Middle East. At first I didn't see it, but I was told that I just don't seem as happy as I used to and folks keep asking me what all I went through while I was at war.

The short answer: not much. I was close enough to hear a handful of explosions, but never saw any. I was in a plane that someone shot an RPG at, but I didn't hear about it until after we landed. I got stuck inside a secure compound for a few hours because a riot had broken out on the street outside, but I spent the duration watching movies in the exchange food court and waiting for the all clear. I can't in any way say that I had a hard time there, so no, I am not suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

I've been trying to maintain the assertion that nothing about me has changed, but I finally noticed a subtle difference Friday morning when I was driving to the union hall and nearly killed a jaywalker. She'd decided to sprint across Howard Street, a somewhat busy four lane road in San Francisco, against the light and without checking for traffic. For those of you who don't know, I drive a somewhat conspicuous car, so I'm usually taken by surprise when someone doesn't notice it. This particular someone dashed out in front of it and came so close that I overreacted, locked the brakes and came within inches of clipping her off at the knees. Then she froze, staring at me for what seemed like forever before shuffling the rest of the way across the street at a snail's pace.

I nearly killed her. Seeing as how I drive a small car, I'm confident that the collision probably would've just maimed her. When I say I nearly killed her, I mean that when this fuckwit hapless pedestrian decided to make me stop because she was in a hurry and then made me wait while she ambled away, it was all I could do to restrain myself from getting out of the car and bludgeoning her to death with her own shoe.

This is not normal for me.

Still, if I do have something clinically wrong with me then I'm convinced it's something new. Given the way my last year went, I can't complain about post traumatic stress disorder. Instead, I've decided to call my problem "post inconvenience stress disorder."

Don't worry, it won't have me climbing a clocktower with a high-powered rifle anytime soon. I don't need medication or lengthy counseling sessions. What I do need is to be left to my little bubble of whatever-the-hell-I-want-to-do. I'm certain that given a little time, I'll be able to reestablish my usual degree of patience and zen. Then, the next time someone tries to commit suicide by running out in front of my car, I'll be able to just smile and wave again.

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