Caffeine Cranky: Bad manners or Economic Anxiety Disorder?


Driving through my local Starbucks yesterday, I happened on a caffeinated rage between two drivers. Apparently, a female driver had turned in front of another car "skipping" him in line. The man in this car, a regular customer. immediately became irate and yelled obscenities and vulgarities out his window at the woman. This rant was picked up by the drive-thru microphone and broadcasted clearly both inside Starbucks and to the outside seating. The woman who had done the skipping quickly jumped into the fracas with her own string of foul language and obscene gestures.

Sigh. Now, I'm just trying to get a cup of coffee. I like my peaceful mornings. Is there really that much time difference if one car goes ahead of you? Does such an offense really require this much energy and emotion? It got me to thinking that maybe this is part of the fall-out from a sagging economy and growing anxiety. It is Economic Anxiety Disorder.

People are anxious: about money, portfolios, jobs, and mortgages. They are watching their hopes of an early retirement vanish along with the equity in their homes and their health care benefits. Our culture has morphed from one of pride to one of anxiety and blame. We have gotten crispy and cranky, ready to explode with the smallest frustration.

Originally published