Sometimes counting to ten, taking a deep breath and thinking happy thoughts doesn’t do much to remove the rage summoned by the recent and relentless soul-sucking snowfall.
Snow rage. It’s a thing — or at least it is in Massachusetts as of late. And you know what won’t quell your anger? We are set to get another “long duration” snowstorm this weekend. Oh, joy.
“It seems as though the more snow we get the more patience we need,” said Michael Bronner, an anger management expert and licensed mental health clinician with Thrive Boston Counseling and Psychotherapy. “The sidewalks are blocked, so it typically takes a bit longer to get where we need to go in the conditions we’re dealing with right now.”
When snow-trekking strangers lash out, it may be due to a basic "fight or flight" response triggered by treacherous conditions or an invasion of personal space, Bronner said.
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"These reactions could be the anxiety repsonse to the feeling of being in danger. It may cause you to get defensive, or even aggressive, and that's when someone might go on the attack."
MBTA commuter Catherine D. [who didn’t reveal her last name] has already dealt with other people’s snow snippiness on the T.
“Some lady on a jam packed train at Sullivan station looked out at me and the crowd of freezing people and said 'You’re not getting on this train,’” said Catherine. “And I said, ‘You know what? I am getting on this train,’ and I smashed past her and made her more uncomfortable than she'd have liked. You don't tell people what they can and can't do, privileged lady who’s already on the train.”
Worcester resident Jenna Smith has witnessed some close calls even before the snow fell — while doing her preparatory shopping.
“I was at Shaw’s right before the second snow storm hit and there were lines 30 people long, and two girls tried to cut the line and the ambush on them was insane. Literally 20 people screaming at them like hyenas. Granted they shouldn't have tried to cut, but people were out for blood,” said Smith.
Snow rage has apparently prompted tire slashing in the South End — three reports so far — as well as a snow blower attack just weeks ago.
One Boston cop, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said arguments over parking or snow removal rarely escalates to a physical confrontation.
“When it happens the media is all over it, but it almost never happens,” he said. “Usually you just get a lot of F.U.s between the two people. It doesn't get to the level of a fight.”
The officer estimated that four out of five snow frustration calls are related to parking or where the snow gets thrown.
“We call them referee calls, where a neighbor will want us to referee some dispute,” he said.
Snow rage, however, easily translates to road rage. Snowy commutes mean slower traffic, as well as more dangerous conditions.
Bronner suggests giving yourself extra travel time and trying not to take it personally when someone cuts you off or rides your tail.
And cut back on the talk radio.
“It’s important for drivers to understand how negative talk radio can affect you,” said Bronner . “It can get you worked up.”