Once upon a time, I too succumbed to road rage.
If someone cut me off, or I thought someone cut me off, I wanted to get them! I’d ride their ass, intimidate them, or get ahead of them and cut THEM off! Ooo! I’m such a big man! King of the road! Woe to anyone who besmirch my king-of-the-road-ness!
Yeah, I was a tool. I didn’t do it all the time, but I did do it, I was a tool for doing it.
Do I still get pissed off at people? Yeah! There are a lot of idiot drivers out there. But is it really worth it to seek retribution? This isn’t Mad Max for crying out loud!
A few months back, I heard in the news about this guy and his family. They were driving somewhere in their minivan when someone in a pick-up truck cut them off. The driver of the minivan was so pissed that he followed the driver of the pick-up truck home. When the driver of the pick-up truck stopped, he got out, grabbed a chainsaw out of the back, and threatened the guy in the in the minivan.
My question to you is, who is the idiot here?
Personally, I’d have to say the guy in the van. He had his family, his kids, with him while he drove after some guy who cut him off in traffic. Sure the guy brandishing a chainsaw wasn’t the smartest, but he didn’t know who was following him. He might have felt threatened and did what he thought was a good idea to protect himself, or hopefully scare off whoever was in the van. The chainsaw part was caught on video and the driver of the pick-up truck was charged, but the charges were later dropped.
My next question would be, was following the guy back to his house worth everything that happened? Was that one road slight, accidental or not, worth having his kids freaked out by some guy with a chainsaw? No, of course it wasn’t.
So often, ego plays into these incidents. Someone cuts someone else off, one person feels slighted by another, or some other equally ridiculous, minor infraction causes the other’s ego to be damaged. Or someone feels so righteous that they must make sure that this person knows they are wrong, even if no one, or even you, are wrong.
Which bring me to why I have brought this up in the first place.
Last Friday, I was driving my work vehicle, a cube van, on a delivery. Up ahead, a bus had stopped in the right lane, just passed a set of traffic lights. Seeing this, I changed lanes, from the right lane to the left/ passing lane. Behind the stopped bus was a line of cars waiting to do what I had done, but they were right behind the bus. As I approached the lights, they turned yellow, but I had plenty of time to get through. A blonde lady in the green Grand Prix either didn’t see me coming, or thought she had time to get ahead of me…
sidebar: I have noticed that, since driving my company’s cube van, or 3-ton truck, NO ONE wants to get behind me. They’ll do any stupid thing to NOT have to be behind me. It is mind-boggling the lengths some people will go to as so to not be behind a cube van or 3-ton truck… but I digress…
So, this lady goes to switch lanes, just as the front of my truck is at her rear driver’s side door. When she realized this, she slammed on the breaks and honked her horn. Moments later, she raced to catch up with me, first on my passenger side, then behind me and up on the driver’s side. She stopped, blocking the left turn lane, as I was in the right turn lane behind a few other cars.
She rolled down her passenger side window and proceeded to yell at me, asking me why I had cut her off, did I enjoy doing that, what kind of person was I to do that to someone, etc, etc. I tried to tell her I was in my lane, that she had tried merge with my truck, but of course, she would have none of it. Finally, I just ignored the rest of her rant.
All the while her husband sat in the passenger seat, silently looking down, probably embarrassed and ashamed to be in such a position. Her son, in the back seat, was oblivious to everything, playing with his phone. Afterwards, after making the turn, I noticed, in my driver’s side mirror, that she had to make a U-turn to go back the way she wanted to go. So she had gone out of her way to yell at me.
Sadly, I have been in her seat before. I have done stupid things that left me startled, maybe even a little shaken, like I’m sure she was. But, instead of just being thankful she wasn’t in an accident, she let her road rage get the best of her. She felt the need to lash out at what she perceived as a slight, a wrong done to her. Her lashing out was childish and stupid. I could have added to the situation by arguing more, being a dick myself, but I didn’t.
In this case, I kept my ego in check, while she let hers lash out.
In cases of road rage, and other such situations where we feel someone is “against us”, they may not actually be “against us”. If we allow ourselves to be goaded into something because we feel the need to protect our egos, then we are no better than they are. There is nothing wrong with keeping a cool head and fighting back, but sometimes, as with this blonde woman, getting pulled into the fight would have meant she had already won.
I felt bad for her, and her poor husband for marrying such a harridan. But it also reminded me that, thankfully, I have matured enough to not let myself do stupid, childish things like that.
Hopefully, anyone reading with will think twice before letting their own road rage get the better of them.