In the last four or five months I have begun to develop what I can only call a serious rage problem. It usually hits me as I’m driving in to work. I am more or less okay first thing in the morning. First thing when I wake up I don’t feel bad as such, I just feel kind of numb and dull and blank. I do everything on automatic – I hit the snooze button my alarm on automatic, I put the kettle on on automatic, I shower on automatic, I get dressed on automatic, I feed the cats on automatic, I have my breakfast on automatic. It’s the same old thing every morning – always the same old procedure. That cracks me up too when I think about it. How could I have become such a total, godforsaken robot? What kind of a life is that?
Anyway, as I was saying, the rage doesn’t really hit me until I have been driving for ten minutes or so and I run into the traffic jam leading up to Claregalway on the N17 coming from the Tuam side. As the traffic closes in on me and progress slows down to an intermittent crawl the numbness starts to wear off and I gradually come to a bit. That’s when it hits me. I cannot begin to express just how bad I start to feel then: The power of narrative completely fails me at this point. I just don’t know how to do justice to what it is that I start feeling when the anger hits. All I can say is that an immense bubble of pure undiluted white-hot rage rises up from somewhere deep inside me and explodes in my head. It leaves me feeling so powerless, so choked, so horribly, appallingly bad inside that I just want to smash my head against the windscreen until I go unconscious. And that’s only the start of it…
Every day is just as bad as the rest. Every day is hell. Only today, for some reason, its worse. This time I feel as if I really have reached breaking point. I sit there looking at all the cars stretching ahead of me – the lorries and vans and buses and the endless saloons and estates and Toyotas and Renaults and Fiats and Nissans – and I am gripped with overwhelming repugnance for everything to do with the road transport system. “Just where the hell are they all going?” I ask myself incredulously. I look at the drivers in the vehicles near to me and I am instantly filled with hatred towards them. I can see their ridiculous mannequin faces in perfect detail. The dumb bastards, turning up again every morning to go through the same old nonsense – are they for real or are they just wind-up clock-work toys? Do they have no sense at all? How stupid must they be to keep going through with this farce, day after day, week after week, month after month. What does this say for the human race? I wondered, gripped with a sense of exasperation and disgust so intense that I can taste it in my mouth.
If this is all the human race has come up after so many millions of years of evolution then we all deserve to die. The sooner the better really. The poor much-maligned amoeba has more dignity, more cop-on than we do. Was there ever anything in the universe as pathetically, grotesquely useless and foolish as human beings with their so-called progress? And what really gets me is that we take ourselves so seriously. Look at them all. The idiots. The poor fuck-wits. We keep on telling ourselves how important and meaningful our lives are. How very serious and urgent our affairs are. How important it is that we should go to wherever we are going, to our next appointment, to our next business meeting, to whatever. How important it is that yet another goods vehicle should be in time to deliver its banal cargo of consumer crap to the appropriate retail outlet so that it can be sold to morons in yet another offensively bland and characterless shopping mall. It’s all so pointless. We kid ourselves that it is all so bloody great yet anyone with half a brain can see it’s all a load of crap. It’s a joke! The whole thing is just one big sorry joke and we’re too vain, too ridiculously self-important, to up our own arses to see it.
The traffic, if it was bad before, is a damn sight worse now. I never knew so many cars existed, certainly not in the west of Ireland. The sheer volume of traffic is a marvel to me. Why are they so many cars? What is it all about? My attention turns towards the nonsense of having a busy road like the N17 going through bottle-neck like Claregalway, and the ineptitude of the planners and administrators in coming up with any sort of solution at all. What good are all those bureaucrats in the council, what use are the local politicians? Local politicians are in fact a pet hate of mine. As soon as I think about them I wish I hadn’t because I become so infuriated. They all look the same to me – they are middle-aged, have big flabby, clammy hands, fingers like bananas, and faces like big white stupid-looking puddings. They all wear the same obnoxious suits with big thick necks that bulge out over their white shirts. And they all talk bullshit all the time, to a man. The old joke – how do you know when a politician tells a lie? His lips move.
The traffic, which had been moving very slowly, suddenly stops. Caught up in my own thoughts, I almost don’t notice in time: I stamp hard on the brake and narrowly avoid running into the car in front of me. I glare at the back of the driver’s head as if he was personally responsible for everything. I feel as if I could leap out of my car and reach him in one bound. I imagine myself putting my fist through the guy’s side window, grabbing him by the throat and pulling him right through it. The pure white-hot rage running though my veins makes me feel – in my imagination at least – that I have superhuman strength. There is no limit to the malice I feel towards my fellow motorists: I imagine myself sixty feet tall, stamping on the cars with vengeful, unrelenting ferocity. Crushing them all into the tarmac.
After a minute or two I come back to reality and groan in despair. I’m going nowhere in a hurry. I’m my normal size and I’m powerless. Gradually, very gradually, the line of traffic starts moving again, painfully slowly. Sweat comes out in beads on my forehead as I realize that I am going to be late for work yet again. I’ve been late every day of the week so far and I swore to myself that today I would be on time. In fact I promise myself that every day. This is nothing new – this is just another day, same as all the rest. I will get to work about half an hour late, arrive in the office stressed out and out of breath as a result of running from wherever I had desperately managed to park the car, and then things will start from there.
Every day is the same. They all merge. Every day goes by in a blur and then I’m back home totally exhausted, totally shattered. My evenings – like my weekends – go by in the blink of the eye. They don’t seem to count as real time, just a sort of intermediate period between getting back from work one day and going in again the next. And then, before I know it, here is where I will be: slowly, agonizingly coming to my senses in the traffic jam coming up to Claregalway. How I hate that wretched place. Of all the pointless, crappy little towns in the world, this has got to be one of the worst. I now see my situation with perfect clarity: I am caught in a circle, a time-loop, a freeze-frame. I never actually get anywhere – I’m just forever running on my wheel like the frenetic human hamster I am. A human rat in an inhuman rat race. Of course, I usually manage to kid myself that one day it will be different, that things will change. I tell myself that I will find time one day to do all the things that I want to do – all the things that really matter to me, all the things that I keep putting on hold. The truth is that this is the reality of my life and it’s not going to change. This is as good as it gets, as Jack Nicholson says in the film.
I want to scream, but as usual it just turns into a bad taste in my mouth. I am struck by the horrible awareness that my life is slipping away through my fingers. The days, the weeks, the months, the years are all just flying past, faster and faster and all I can do is look on helplessly, stupidly – the impotently furious witness of my own pathetic futility. I know now that whatever promises I may make to myself, whatever hopes I may have of things changing, are simply delusions that I choose to believe in so as to make my life bearable. Only now I can’t believe it any more but I can’t carry one without believing it either.
It’s all just pointless suffering, over and over and over – it’s a joke and I am the butt of it. Someone must be having a bloody good laugh. Aren’t I the fucking eejit. Aren’t I the fucking moron. A jolt of electric insight suddenly hits me. The dumb pathetic moronic bastards in their stupid fucking cars with their stupid fucking mannequin faces and their stupid fucking lives that I hate so much – I hate them so much because I am them. That’s me. Their immense stupidity is my own immense stupidity. How did I not see that? I hate them because I hate me…