But then I realized that I hadn't encountered any terrible or super aggressive Detroit driver over the past month or so. Usually I'll run into (or avoid running into) a handful every week along my commute into and out of Detroit. Over the past month, zero.
Thought for a little while, and think I found the answer. Check out my back bumper:
About a month ago, a visitor decided to drive forward into my car instead of backward into the street when leaving my driveway. My car received a love tap and a cracked back bumper. The damage is only cosmetic, so I've taken my time getting it fixed until I have some extra cash available for repairs.
How does this relate to a dramatic decrease in scumbag-driver encounters? Let me share one of my high school friend's favorite sayings to explain:
The nicer car always blinks first.
My friend was a wild driver who thought speed limits and stop signs were for other people without important things to do. If he lived around Detroit, he would probably be one of the drivers my friend from the beginning of this post regularly complains about. He is also 100% correct with his statement.
If you're driving a Ferrari, you're always going to yield the lane when a broken down station wagon tries to merge into you. In a game of chicken, the person with the more expensive ride will back down first. When my back bumper cracked, my car's status changed to not-nice, and I now have a subliminally protective force field around my car.
|Let this guy pass.|
They see this, they think this, they yield the right of way.
|This is what I've become.|
(No complaints here)
Thinking Further About Perceived Status
This made me think about how perceptions can be artificially tweaked or modified to reflect an inaccurate reality.
Body language is an obvious one. If you carry yourself with confidence and swagger, other people will assume you have both (even if you don't have either). Amy Cuddy gives a great talk around this if you're curious (See above video).
|These will be in the thousands when I need a job...|
Since I followed OkCupid's advice and optimized my profile, I've consistently gotten 10+ job offers per week. Before I made any changes, I was getting maybe 2 in a month. Modifying perception works. Anyway, here's my point:
You could be awesome.
You could completely suck.
None of that matters when you are perceived differently in the eye of the beholder.
There are benefits to tweaking how other people see you. If you can control their perception, then you can use it to your advantage. Might as well make this perception work for you, instead of against you. At the very least, this is how I justify not fixing my bumper for another month.