Our cycling group were sitting outside on the footpath of our regular haunt, tucking into coffee and breakfast this past Saturday morning as is the norm. This is a central location from where we all reside and one of the more salubrious suburbs in town. A lively discussion was being had regarding misleading media headlines and how manipulative and provocative the media was when ‘reporting’ a particular vehement view under the guise of objectivity. This lively discussion was interrupted by ‘a stream of colourful abuse’ and we turned around to see a male person hanging out of his stationary car hurling abuse at the car in front. “come on get out of your car you f….b….gutless f….. p…..” the other driver responded with the finger gesture which served to wind the abuse hurler up even more.

We saw that the boom gates were down for a train and that this situation could get messy. The cafe was packed with families and there were a group of elderly people walking along the street. Silence descended and the trepidation was palpable, given the abuse being hurled was far louder than the clanging railway warning bells. Thankfully neither of the perpetrators alighted their vehicles, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when the booms raised and the bells stopped. That was not the end of it, as the first car driven by Mr. Middle Finger proceeded, he did a massive ‘burnout’ filling the air with putrid black smoke which blew over us, rather than who we assumed was the intended target, Mr. Get Out of Your F….. Car behind.

We were dumbstruck as was everyone else, what on earth was the point of all that? Human’s and their behaviours are increasingly unfathomable, as these types of incidents which are increasing cannot be explained in any rational way. What could possibly be that important to promote such a tirade of vitriol? The reality is there is not one iota of rational thinking involved with these incidents. It is pure out of control animal rage, self-control is out the window as is any capacity to see the consequences. These situations cause the survival instinct to kick in with those witnessing it, all of us on the footpath and in the cafe, and for good reason.

When people are out of control their ‘physical strength increases’ and this situation which could easily have spilled out on to the road and become really ugly. Had this occurred, most of us on the footpath would have retreated somewhere ‘out of the danger zone’. A few bold males may have stepped in to ‘calm them down’, but given the level of lack of control they would most likely have also retreated, or moved to protect the vulnerable.

The whole situation was quite surreal and played out over about 4 minutes, where ironically the perpetrators were completely out of control, yet the witnesses were on high alert and in complete control. A further irony is that both groups the ‘road ragers’, and the witnesses, were both operating from polar opposites ends of ‘animal or survival’ instinctual behaviours. There was little if any ‘rational’ thinking going on with either group. The ‘road ragers’ were in fight response mode, and the witnesses were in flight response mode.

This situation was a classic example of Busy Brain Syndrome at play, where access to rational thinking with the ‘road ragers’ was completely absent. It was Saturday morning, virtually no traffic and a relatively quite road, what could possibly have precipitated such a reaction. The answer is probably nothing. BBS causes the stress response to become locked on and therefore people ‘react’ rather than stop and think, which is why we are seeing an alarming increase in these sorts of incidents.

The situation put a dampener on everyone’s Saturday morning, and it could have been much worse had they actually got out of their cars. These behaviours detract from the greater good and serve to make people more distrusting of ‘others’ as there is no rhyme or reason for such behaviours.