The escalator carries a mass of noisy people pushing and hitting each other slowly down the looooong slanted corridor as I take one step after another down the endless stairs.
I've always been afraid of stairs, especially going down, because I imagine a different way to die with each step. But lately I'm more scared of the escalator. Of myself on the escalator. Of the way I want to push people down it because nobody in this city has any manners.
Can't they see that I'm fighting a rage hotter than a furnace that pushes against my chest and the backs of my eyeballs? Can't they see that if they push me on the subway one more time, I might finally break?
I take another step down the endless stairs at Konkuk University Station and try to think of anything other than pushing that skinny girl in kill heels who looks like she forgot to wear pants today down the stairs.
We've all been there: crowded places with people jostling each other; that girl or guy who's just that much more attractive or stylish, smarter or more popular than you; that computer or smart phone that just keeps crashing.
How do we control that anger? I feel I'm uniquely qualified to talk on this subject because I'm always angry and always smiling. What's my secret, you ask? I'M GETTING TO THAT!! By the end of my little anger talk, you will all know a few ways to control anger in the moment and long term.
When I was in elementary school, there was a boy named Rafael who always teased me because he liked me. He sat in front of me in class and always sat sideways in his chair. This infuriated me because I loved rules and it was against the rules to sit sideways in our chairs. One day, he was teasing me as usual and I just couldn't take it anymore. I pushed him! and he fell back and cut his ear on the metal desk. I cried harder than he did because I had hurt someone, and I'm just a nice person like that. :)
My teacher sent me to the principle's office and called my parents, which was like ooooooh, big trouble! The principle sat me down in her office and taught me three techniques for controlling my rage.
First, take a deep breath and count to ten. Second, scribble on a piece of paper. Third, um... actually, I forgot the third. What? I was like 6 years old!
Obviously, the biggest issue with that is that it can look a little crazy to be like, "No, it's not like that you stupd- 1, 2, 3, 4..." [scribble on whiteboard] Aaaahhhhhh. But those techniques are useful to calm an outbreak of rage.
Another problem is that it's just distracting you from your anger in the moment, which lets it churn inside and pickle like kimchi into something stronger. I'm talking about rage of Incredible Hulk proportions.
You know what I mean? Isn't there that one thing or person that just the thought can make you want to HULK SMASH!!!!!?
You can distract yourself from the rage temporarily by counting to ten or scribbling, but what about the long-term, festering rage eating at you slowly from the inside? Managing this is why I called my speech "Anger Management" instead of "Anger Distraction". You can manage anger by removing the rage as much as possible.
Removing the rage is not easy. You could shave your head and live in a temple, but I'd bet there would still be temptations, especially in a co-ed temple. It'd be like holy high school. Temptation and envy lead to anger and anger leads to the dark side. [make Darth Vader breathing sound]
The best way to remove the rage is to figure out where it comes from and deal with that issue.
When I first came to Korea, I saw a 7 Eleven and got really excited because the things that I love so much, that I got in a car accident for and still love, Slurpees, are only available at 7 Eleven. You Koreans who have never been overseas probably don't know what they are because YOUR COUNTRY DOESN'T HAVE THEM!! Anyway, I looked in every 7 Eleven I could find for the first few months I was here and didn't find a single delicious, refreshing Slurpee. I finally gave up. The rage was unbearable and I refused to enter a Korean 7 Eleven for an entire year. But I dealt with that. Now I look forward to Slurpees every time I visit the US.
And, more importantly, I lowered my standards. I don't expect my favorite American things to be the same or even good here. I assume that if I order a Pizza Hut pizza, it will taste exactly the same as a cheap Korean pizza, be half the size and cost twice as much, and come with stinky pickles I won't eat. So, when that's when I get, I'm satisfied. No anger. No problem. I knew that's what I was ordering.
Needless to say, I tend to gain weight when I visit the US because I get to eat all the foods I miss.
How about an extremely common example? Let's say I hate everyone in my office, I hate city life, and I got a parking fine this morning. If my service at a restaurant is a little slow, I'm gonna go Hulk on a waiter or waitress.
But, if I find a new job in the suburbs and have more parking freedom and room to breathe because I move there, too, I won't mind waiting a few extra minutes for my meal. The Hulk won't even try to come out.
Or, if I can't do that, I can start by trying to improve my relationships with my coworkers. Bribes are always good. I take bribes, too, by the way. ;)
So now you have a few tips on how to control anger both in the moment and long-term, and I have a third point. But.... I forgot it again! AAAHHHH STUPID STUPID STUPID!!! [scribble and count to ten] Aaaahhh.
Things like counting to ten are useful, but just temporary distractions. If you really want to manage anger better, remove the rage from your daily life. Every little improvement in the quality of your life helps. Let's remove the rage and cage the Hulk for good.