First Lecture

Day one of specialized courses on human awkwardness and uncomfortable situations.

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Imagine the following scenario:

You're cruising down a quiet, sunny thoroughfare in your Hellfire-red Subaru WRX STI Limited, doing a casual 27 mph over the speed limit and cheerily nodding along to your favorite playlist of Scandinavian death metal. Life, in other words, is chill.

Suddenly, a silver Buick LeCrosse bursts into your lane, directly in front of you. It cuts you off.

Your vehicular boundaries? Violated. Blatantly. But now what? How can you re-establish those boundaries in a healthy, assertive way? Today’s lecture will show you how.

First, separate the facts of the situation from your emotional interpretation.


Technically, this Buick is 75 car lengths ahead of you.

Its driver is 93 years old, and he is going the speed limit.

He activated his turn signal thirty seconds ago.

He has actually drifted quite considerately into the left lane so he can turn into what appears to be a homeless shelter, ready to volunteer some of the precious time he has left in this world in service to the needy.

Emotional Interpretation

That lame “I [Heart] My Great Grandchildren” bumper sticker is actively scraping against your six-star emblem.

This driver is an obvious terrorist, and he is accelerating in reverse.

His turn signal exists purely to mock you.

He swerved in front of you so he can park in the middle of the highway to contact his human trafficking subordinates about tonight’s shipment of Guatemalan children.

Now—discard the facts and double down on your emotions, focusing intently on their physical manifestation. In other words:

Your knuckles go white on the wheel. Your heart pounds—or is that the double bass drum of “Soon to Be Dead” by Swedish death metal band Dismember? Your blood boils and your molars grind. Your throat rumbles with a primal growl reminiscent of Matti Karki, lead singer of Dismember, currently scream-crooning “Soon to Be Dead” through the 31 premium Alpine after-market speakers of your Subaru WRX.

Now put those feelings into words. For example:

The left lane is mine.


Lastly, put those words into assertive action with five simple steps.

Step 1: Speed up.

Assertively stomp the accelerator and release a howl of defiance as the kindly, smile-wrinkled eyes of that casually dressed Santa widen in terror within the rearview mirror of his Buick sedan. Did he seriously think he could just drive around all old like that? Not on your watch.

Step 2: Whip into the right lane.

Just before smashing into the offending LeCrosse, careen assertively into the right lane.

Step 3: Make furious eye contact.

As you pass the geezer by, burn laser holes straight into the pupils of his wizened, laugh-lined face. Imagine you are Nicke Andersson, lead guitarist on “Soon to be Dead” by Swedish death metal band Dismember, shredding that solo while gazing into the blazing irises of Satan himself.

Step 4: Release the metal dust.

When grandpa inevitably pales beneath your furious glare, deliver the coup de gras. Flick your hand theatrically into the air like you have released a cloud of glitter. But it’s not glitter, is it? It’s pulverized titanium, mined from the core of the earth by the deep subsonic blasts of Richard Cabeza, bassist on the track “Soon to be Dead” by Swedish death metal band Dismember. Your gesture will say, What the eff, guy?! He’ll get the message.

Step 5: Whip back into the left lane.

Before fully clear, assertively whip back into the left lane and force that old bastard to swerve if he wants to avoid the sleek back bumper of your sick, sick Subaru WRX.

That’s it. Your job is done. You’ve appropriately—and healthily—asserted yourself after being rudely cut off. Will this retired pediatrician suffer a heart attack now? Is that why he’s clutching his chest? Not your problem. If he wasn’t willing to risk cardiac arrest, he shouldn’t have lawfully entered the left lane while the distant spec of your speeding WRX was vaguely visible in his rearview mirror.

Thanks to your assertive communication, this jackass might never drive again. Think of all the WRX drivers you have spared from similar feelings of frustration in the future. Well done, Subaru samurai—and rock on.