Road rage will get you killed. I admit, I had it bad. The kind that makes people not want to ride with you. I’m not proud, but this is one of those ‘please learn from my mistakes’ things. I know so many people killed in car wrecks, I myself have metal in my body because of a wreck. Let’s go over the key points to why it’s a dangerous emotion you should do away with immediately.
1. People are flipping insane. You never know when one is going to lose their shit. And for every smartass thinking ‘what can they do in the middle of traffic?’ it’s time to wake up, Buttercup. Crazy people don’t care about witnesses, they’re crazy. By time they snap out of it they could be in jail for murdering you, but they didn’t realize there would be consequences because they’re crazy. It doesn’t make you any less dead. Here, I’ll give you examples of how I learned the hard way, please, enjoy my pain.
Let’s start with summer after Junior year. On the way to work, I had to pass through a large intersection. I drove through a green light, but saw a truck running the red to my right. I slammed on breaks and skidded to a halt, the beat-up truck missed me by inches. I had a habit of responding to fear with anger, still do, but I’m working on it. As the truck passed, I flipped it off and gave a good, 3 second honk. Pretty standard procedure, she was clearly in the wrong. I drove away and continued singing whatever emo shit I was undoubtedly playing when I saw the truck cut a u-turn. It raced to catch up and rode my bumper. I never saw inside, but it was obviously a truck full of gangsters, and you know they had guns. We don’t really see people when we’re driving. We see obstacles that exist solely to thwart our attempts at traveling.
Looking in the rear-view, all I could see were three shadowy outlines. This was happening as we entered the downtown area. The four-lane was coming to an end and the next red light offered nowhere to hide. I was jammed in with other cars; accepting the inevitable, I made sure doors were locked, and daydreamed worse case scenarios. Securely trapped until the light turned green, a woman who looked like Momma Klump emerged. My assumption about gangsters was a tad hasty. She was wearing one of those moo-moos, and her head was covered in curlers.
I was afraid my window would break if she leaned on it, but she only jabbed it with her finger while cursing me. No one else got out, but her volume increased significantly when I began to laugh. She didn’t understand my relief of not being gunned down in the street. I drove away when the light turned green, wondering if I could get away with running over her foot. At the time, I was stupid enough to think she would regret following me to work. Luckily, she didn’t, but I am disappointed in Past Me for being too dumb to understand there are many, many terrible things she could have done with the knowledge. Alright, let’s jump ahead to after we moved out of that crap town.
The bigger the city you live in, the more likely you are to cross paths with crazy. The turn for a house we rented was off a skinny two-lane. My actual road was a cul-de-sac, but it was long, you couldn’t tell until the end. I hated that two-lane, it was only 45mph without a single place that allows passing. Normally, I didn’t waste a lunch hour trying to drive home, but if I did, I was in a hurry. Once, I drove down the long two-lane and saw a truck pulling up to a stop sign on my right. It never attempted to slow down, it just ran the stop sign and shot onto the road. I was going 51, if you want to say that’s too fast in a 45, whatever, but there was no stopping. I was driving a tiny Dodge Avenger, the truck was a large Dodge Ram, I would have died if I hit it. Reflex and luck saved me. I couldn’t see around the curve, but I swerved into the left lane and passed without wrecking.
I want to point out, I didn’t flip it off or honk. I couldn’t if I wanted, both hands were glued to the wheel. The truck filled my rear-view mirror. When it followed me into the turn for my road, I knew it wasn’t coincidence. I had no clue who was inside, I passed my driveway and kept going. That’s how I learned I lived on a cul-de-sac. The truck pulled across the exit to block my path, but it wasn’t big enough. I squeezed between its hood and the curb, seeing one small woman inside. I decided I didn’t have time to play this game. I drove out of the circle, pulled over behind my drive-way, and got out. The truck stopped dramatically close to my bumper, and the tiny woman came out screaming. She smelled like a distillery. She slurred so bad, I couldn’t make out most of the words.
When she finally paused for a breath I let out all the anger built up from running and watching the clock. “Are you done? I could see you run your stop sign clear as day. How early you start drinking?! It’s like 11:30 and you reek! Do you understand I would have died if I hit your dumbass in that huge truck?!” I did my best to make the Look.
“You ain’t see shit, you the bitch speeding!” She wobbled like a bobble-head.
“Oh bite me I was going 51. Fuck off, if you pull this shit again I’m calling the police.” I turned to walk away, wishing I had a something to use for a mic-drop.
“I wish you would, bitch! I’m friends with all the cops!” I could hear her feet dragging as she followed me.
“Yes, I’m sure you do think that. And I’m sure the ones your thinking of super appreciate you driving plastered under their protection and harassing people. Bravo, next time, try a cup of coffee before you drive.” I locked myself in, pulled my camera out, and showed her it was recording. She tripped getting back into her truck, but I never saw her again. I want to point out how lucky I was; I stopped because I saw a small woman alone, but only later did it occur to me she could have easily shot me if she had a gun. I could have done a million different things to resolve it, but road rage clouds your judgment.
Hubby has far worse road rage, and the inability to learn from mistakes. Yes, it’s a deadly combination and why there’s metal in my body. Seriously guys, please learn. If I ever speak of the car wreck it won’t be anytime soon, but there’s plenty more where that came from.
Not long after leaving our hometown, we were out learning the roads, trying to find a route to work I could drive without having a panic attack. I don’t know what these guys did to start a war, probably nothing significant. If a car pulls out in front of Hubby, he behaves like they spat on him. Had we lived in the age of dueling, he would have died before 20. Anyway, these guys did something he considered offensive which meant revenge had to be swift and painful.
Hubby sped to pass them, grabbed an empty Sprite bottle, and threw it out the window. It hit them on the driver’s side. That seemed to piss those guys off a lot. They sped up to pass us, which was scary in itself. In the middle of heavy traffic we’re all bobbing and weaving to do these ridiculous stunts. They one upped Hubby by throwing a full Sonic drink. Sticky coke splashed all over our windshield. There really aren’t words in our language to properly express my anger. I’m not sure which hurt more, the anger at Hubby for starting it, or the anger at Hubby for being too stupid to understand I was angry with him, not the idiots in the other car. FYI – coke is horrible to clean off, but after it cooks in the summer heat and turns into syrup, it’s torture.
A few weeks after that incident, the sharp pains of anger still burned in my chest, but I was hiding it better. Make no waves, suffer no tsunamis, it’s a great life motto, I wish I remembered where I got it. We were on the main highway when a mini van cut us off. It was a bit of a dick move, but worse happens all the time. Hubby zoomed up next to it, flipping the guy off while screaming “fuck you” out my window.
Guys. Inside the mini van, an old man who looked like a serial killer was gripping his wheel so tight I could see the veins in his hand. He was medium built, had wild gray hair, but clean shaven, and had the stern face one associates with dads who force kids to choose the belt they’ll be spanked with. If I had mastered the Darth Vader strangle hold, Hubby would not be alive today. Be sure of that. I made him turn off the highway at the next light.
“Fine, if it’ll make you happy, I’ll circle through that neighborhood.”
“If that guy follows us I’m letting him kill you while I escape.” I warned. Sure enough, serial killer followed us. “Surprise, surprise asshole!” I was terrified, I used angry sarcasm to show it.
“I really don’t want to hear it.” Hubby grumbled.
Hubby drove through the neighborhood, serial killer on our ass. He turned at random, and of course, it was a dead end. Not a cul-de-sac with the turn-around loop, a dead end. The mini-van pulled across the road to block us in, driver side directly across from us. He glared at us with a ‘wish you were dead’ look I couldn’t help envying.
“Shit, what do we do? Should I get out?” Hubby asked.
“I’m tempted to let him kill you, but if you open that door I’ll kill you myself. He probably wants you to get out.”
Hubby is useless in a crisis. He can get you into one faster than teenagers on acid, but once it starts, he’s only capable of making it worse. You have to remove him from the equation immediately or his panic will hinder you every step of the way. “Just sit still and be ready. If he gets out, run him down, I’ll say I was driving and panicked.” I wasn’t sure if I was telling truth, but hoped it wouldn’t matter.
I turned on my phone’s flash and took several pictures. I hoped if I had pictures, he would leave; criminals tend to be camera shy. If he got out of his van, I planned to scream he was live on Facebook. After a minute of constant flashing, he drove away. I’m not sure if he even blinked while we sat there, but when he was out of sight I made Hubby drive the opposite way. Did this teach him a lesson? Hell no. I won’t speak of him often, but when I do, never, ever make the mistake of thinking he learned anything.
2. You aren’t saving time. Most rage stems from being in a hurry to get where you’re going. Have you ever done the math on how much faster you arrive when speeding VS driving the speed limit? For daily commutes you’re talking an average five minutes or less, totally not worth the hassle.
Here, let’s put this one in perspective. When we first started driving, Thelma and I had vastly different reactions. I believed I was an invincible race-car driver, and Thelma believed she would die if she drove over 40. I once made her cry hitting 80 on the bridge. It boiled down to me not having patience; driving is boring, I’d rather get it over with. In this one instance, Thelma had the right idea. Thankfully, she’ll never read this to know about it, alcohol erased it from her memory years ago.
To prove how much time her driving wasted, I proposed we race from school to her house. I planned to arrive long before her, but I only won by two minutes. I sped, bobbed and weaved, cut people off, but she caught up at every red light. When I turned off the highway I finally pulled ahead, but a two minute lead didn’t grant much bragging privilege. Unless you have serious distance to travel on open roads, there’s no argument for taking the risk. Plus paying tickets are expensive and dealing with insurance sucks.
3. It makes you look like a proper ass. Sure it feels justified in the moment, but have you ever seen someone else with road rage? Have you seen their beet-red faces lined with bulging, purple veins? Spraying the windshield with spit, making excessive hand gestures as if their words aren’t sufficiently expressing their displeasure? They look kinda foolish don’t they? Are you ready for a shock? It looks the same when you do it. I know, it’s hard to accept, but dig deep, you know it to be true.
No one plans to have a wreck, they happen when you least expect. They can change your life forever in an instant. A trip to the gas station can kill a loved one. Most people need a close call for this kind of life change, but it’s not necessary. Life doesn’t give you a sign in the sky saying, “good job, if you had cut that guy off, you would be dead right now” it shouldn’t have to. Yet if someone suffers through a terrible wreck and 6 month recovery, they start driving differently. You don’t need to suffer to learn, just learn. If it isn’t important enough to use your hazard lights, it isn’t important enough to risk driving erratically.
Look, I’m not exempt from this. I feel terrible about what I did to the poor man on the bicycle. I mean, to be fair he shouldn’t have been riding it there in the middle of 5:00 traffic. We were on a two-lane road out in the country, nowhere near civilization. There’s no bike lanes in places like this! And this guy is riding his bicycle in the right lane knowing full-well myself and a line of 10 cars were stuck behind him. A chance to pass finally presented itself, but when I got next to him (ok yes, I was too close to him) I held the horn down. His entire body, bike and all went straight up, and over. If the cars would not have already been behind me, also passing, he would have been ran over. Sure I wanted to punch the guy in the face for being a jerk, but I damn sure didn’t want him dead or crippled. Did everyone laugh like it was a big joke? Yes. But he wasn’t injured so it’s ok.
I know this isn’t the kind of stuff I usually write, but this crap is important. It’s not just you. The road rage between you and one other vehicle can kill kids in the car behind you. The car neither of you realize is there because you’re behaving like idiots. I don’t care how angry you are, no one wants to be that asshole. Karma is a crafty bitch, do not give her a reason to cut you.
Ok, thanks everyone.
Oh, one last order of business. I sincerely hope my imaginary groupies are enjoying their new lives, perhaps the break has absolved me from any… unsavory presumptions. I think it has. Alright, good day.