I raced down the highway, keeping pace with the cars surrounding me. I was on my way back from watching a high school basketball tournament, and my heart still thumped from the excitement of the games.
Because of the tournament, the traffic was heavy and full of erratic teenage drivers. To my right, a car full of teenage boys sped past me trying to find space ahead of me in my lane. I put on a burst of speed, leaving no room for my opponent to slide in ahead of me.
This tactic made the boys in the car mad, and they yelled at me through the window.
I pretended to ignore them, but secretly I enjoyed goading them. I slowed down just long enough to let them almost get ahead of me, but then I sped up at the last moment to keep them from changing lanes.
As we jockeyed back and forth, pride overcame us as the battle continued. We drove aggressively only to try to upset each other.
Finally the driver of the other car darted into a small space ahead of me, cutting me off. This time it was my turn to be infuriated. I laid on the car horn for a solid 10 seconds and sped up to the point of nearly rear-ending the car.
But my honking and tailgating didn’t have a calming effect on me. My anger had built to the point where I would do anything to get back at them. I looked around in my car for something to throw out my window at the other car. I found a small green rubber ball in my cup holder. It would be the perfect thing to throw at them.
I rolled my window down, again speeding up until my bumper was close to the other car. I hurled the ball with all my might, but because I had only an elementary knowledge of kinetic motion, I didn’t understand that the ball would not have enough force to catch up to the car in front of me.
Instead the ball hit the asphalt of the road in front of me and bounced up, smacking right into my windshield. I jumped back in fright. As I regained control of my car I noticed a small chip in the windshield where the ball had hit so violently.
I pulled over to the side of the road and inspected the window. Other than the chip, everything was all right. I was not hurt, and the chip was small enough that there was no danger my windshield would crack. But I felt foolish and ashamed at what I had done. Why had I been so angry? I was the one at fault. I had put myself and others in danger just to get even with someone I had goaded into cutting me off. What was I thinking?
My anger didn’t do anything to the kids in front of me. Instead it bounced back and hit me square in the face—or windshield, in this case. In that moment I decided to try and let a cool, calm temperament rule my actions, not a hot and angry one.
Since then, I have had opportunities to have the windshield fixed. I declined each time, however, deciding to keep the chip as a reminder that being angry won’t solve my problems. Anger only bounces back.
To learn more about controlling your anger, read these articles in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org: “Slow to Anger” (Ensign, Feb. 2003), by Elder Gordon T. Watts; and “Agency and Anger” (Ensign, May 1998), by Elder Lynn G. Robbins.