I drove to work this morning and was passed on the way by a colleague who furiously fought traffic to gain any advantage he could. He seemed to be late for work. I drove much more patiently, doing my best to obey the traffic laws and using intuition to gain slight advantages on the road. We both arrived at work at the same time–he just a bit ahead of me. After he parked, he nonchalantly walked to our work building. He no longer seemed to be late, but rather, it appeared that he was intent upon driving like a Korean during the morning rush hour.
This is not the first time I’ve seen colleagues do just about anything to gain an advantage on the road. They are no different than Koreans who drive to the point of recklessness in order to obtain any edge on the road. I ask, why? More often than not, I tie or beat these drivers from point to point. I’ve memorized where the bottlenecks are and skillfully avoid them without acting reckless. I’m pensive, trying to anticipate heavier traffic and avoiding it. On occasion, I have to dart between cars when I spot a window of opportunity, but I do my best not to drive haphazardly. It reminds me of something I read once while in the U.S.–the shorter lane isn’t always the fastest. Everyone would get where they were going faster if they would just obey the rules of the road–stop cutting people off, speeding, running red lights, and turning shoulders into makeshift lanes. In Seoul, during morning rush hour, the street lights are timed so that even if you zip past one light, the people behind you are bound to catch up. That’s why, time and again, I beat the speed demons to work while I drive like a tortoise, because I’m pensive, patient, and find gaps that they miss. At the very least, I’m right on their tail.