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I'm trying to figure out why my neighbors are still driving fast on the little country road just outside my house despite my signs, and I refuse to believe that they are being intentionally rude. There's something deeper and it usually comes down to anxiety, which if not handled well leads to mental disturbance and illness, feeling like a victim, thinking rules of civility don't apply to them, and lashing out with hostility at those they don't trust.

We all have anxiety, it comes with life, but it doesn't translate to victimhood for everyone. (Even those who think they have it all: a nice home, loving family, and money in the bank, know they’ll lose it all someday.) A victim can be someone who thinks I or the system is “putting one over on them,” and that justifies their anti-social thoughts and actions: they can lie, cheat, steal, and feel completely justified. Trump and his believers, who think the election was stolen, are the current example of victims who are trying to destroy democracy (or the quietude of my road) with lies, along with politicians legislating to restrict voting rights to help them win elections.

The victims driving too fast by my house, generating excessive dust and noise, are linked by strands of anxiety gripping them, putting them in such a state of self-absorption that in my case they don't notice the signs or how fast they're going; and in the other case, they believe the lies of a demagogue who is their leader.

Each neighbor on this hill has had their victimhood and entitlement evolve from their very human anxieties; the younger they are the faster they drive, so let's take a look at them and examine the roots of their disorders:

One couple have been fighting for years with doors slamming and shouts of “Who are you? I don't even know you anymore!” disturbing the peaceful night. They have health crises to deal with as well as alarming conflicts with neighbors, which has led to police visits, restraining orders, and court cases. 

Another couple also fight loudly, often seem on the verge of breaking up, the power person in the relationship neglects the other, and as they're practically living together every day is an opportunity for more anxiety. No wonder they speed past, heedlessly if not recklessly, and drive quickly away from the stress at home with probably not even a glance at my signs, which say please slow down, ten miles an hour.

Then you have the arrogant big grower who everybody on the road hates (except me, but if he doesn't slow down soon...) who must still be making it, evidenced by the international mix of middlemen who regularly show up: Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and others have been seen popping bags of weed into their trunks and leaving packs of twenties and hundreds in return. 

Being in the weed business is the definition of anxiety these days of over-supply and legalization but somehow he has a sweet girlfriend so maybe he's worried he'll fuck that up too? If he has any self-awareness he probably realizes he can be a thoughtless jerk as his conflicts with neighbors never end.

There’s also a single guy with a dog who has the usual worries like money, health, his kids, and the world situation. (He has just enough anxiety to believe that fifteen mph is slow enough and maybe he’s right.) He also has to deal with the thoughtless neighbor who sometimes forgets to turn the water off when he leaves and the whole road is without enough to take a shower for the rest of the day, until he returns. (If anxiety is universal then being a victim is a byproduct of existence.)

So onto the fool on the hill, yours truly, being victimized by all these self-absorbed people who would rather indulge themselves with reflective thoughts and feelings than see my signs and slow down.

Most of us grow out of our victimhood through time, therapy, the distractions of intellectual pursuits and being caught up in life with the complications of family, career, and other diversions from the omnipresent awareness of who we are and where we're going on this spinning ball called Earth.

Living alone in the woods for decades without meaningful relationships was a prime situation, a petri dish, for creating a victim. Smoking weed dealt with the anxiety of loneliness for a golden hour, then was subsumed by the daily habit which led to the munchies, obesity, and the confusing agitation of self-medication.

When I was living in that potent state of anxiety, depression, mental disturbance, and victimhood, I judged the contentment of others as fake, my envy placating years of cabin fever with distressing illusions. 

I drove the winding country roads like it was one Grand Prix, such as the time I floored it in my New York taxi trying to make fourteen green lights on Park Avenue. On our two-lane country roads it's courteous to pull over and let faster drivers pass but I challenged them to take it if they wanted it, earn it, drive like you're on a Mexican highway because I will not pull over for you!

The anxiety diminished, even the depression seemed to disappear, and now I meander slowly down our shared private drive and pull over for faster drivers elsewhere. I do like to speed on the paved roads but never drive fast by houses on a country lane like this.

My anxiety still explodes irrationally once or twice a year, I can't deny it, but mostly I'm content with the recognition that I know, accept, maybe even like myself, and haven't seen my therapist in a few years.

In conclusion: driving too fast past my house means you're unable to deal with your anxiety without annoying others. Yes, my neighbors aren't necessarily thoughtless and rude, more likely they’re mentally disturbed victims. 

(Or maybe they are just damned inconsiderate.)


  1. jonah raskin November 13, 2022

    Thanks for your all around candor.

  2. Jim Armstrong November 13, 2022

    I live on a dead-end county road clearly (and generously) posted at 30 MPH.
    It is fairly narrow, especially at the bridge, and homes are close to it.
    40 and 50 are routine, even by people who have children playing on it.
    Vineyard equipment and workers do it, but worst are a family from another part of the valley who will not refrain from driving their big pickups with cattle trailers well over the limit.
    It is a short road and 75 wouldn’t save a damn minute!
    I’ll have to try and think about their victimhood, instead of mine.
    Thanks for writing that.

    • George Hollister November 13, 2022

      My observation, for whatever it’s worth, is that the way people drive, and behave while driving is a reflection of their personality. It’s inherent. I also have noticed that the people who complain about other people being inconsiderate drivers are inconsiderate drivers themselves. Ask yourself, why do some people have lots of complaints about other drivers, while others don’t?

  3. Laura Cooskey November 13, 2022

    Is “Peter Pan Syndrome” a recognized condition now?
    Or maybe it would more accurately called O.D.D., which i’m afraid is suffered by many people who take to country living. Oppositional Defiant Disorder: an aversion to conformity or cooperation that Peter Pan never grows out of. This particular adjustment problem would explain why the more you communicate your wishes, the less likely they are to go along with them. (If you hear someone muttering or yelling, “OK, i will, but NOT because you told me to!” you’ll know that’s the trouble. Ha.)

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